Dancing With D.E. Shaw and Drinking With Barneys

Santa
Photo: Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue;
Photos: Getty Images (santa), iStockphoto (suit)

Did anybody watch Matt and Meredith play Guitar Hero on the Today show? Did it make you want to kill yourself? If so, you now know exactly how you will feel if you try to make it through your office holiday party without getting shitcanned. As your co-workers get increasingly merry and begin acting decreasingly pubescent, you have a choice: either get in there and do the Cabbage Patch or run home to your new Battlestar Galactica DVD set. Fortunately, you're only required to go to one company party. We, on the other hand, have been crashing as many as possible. Last night's events included the Details shindig at Bowery Bar, the Domino party in some editor's apartment, and the fabulous annual Marc Jacobs costume extravaganza. We didn't go to any of those, but we did sneak into the Barneys New York hoedown at Bar Martignetti and the sumptuous D.E. Shaw extravaganza at Cipriani. After the jump, who parties better: finance geeks or fashionistas?

D.E. Shaw & Co. This science-oriented hedge fund throws legendary holiday parties. One year, Cirque de Soleil performed just for the staff. Another year, the company took over FAO Schwarz. So it was with great delight that we slipped into this year's fête at Cipriani 42nd Street. Upon entering, we were completely overwhelmed. Giant snowflake lights streaked across the marble columns. Music thumped from a D.J. booth behind a huge stage. A waiter took our coat immediately while another handed us a Bellini. We were already in love. In the side alcove of the ballroom, we found a wide array of delicious foods to choose from and were particularly besotted with a veal ravioli with a toasted cheese crust. The food buffet changed throughout the night (appetizers, entrées, more entrées, dessert) so we basically didn't stop eating the whole time. We even discovered a hidden cache of pigs in a blanket behind the stage. Not long after we arrived Blue Man Group performed. It was their usual shtick, but the Shaw kids really ate it up (OMG he caught a gumball in his mouth and then he spit paint out!!!) We noticed a celebrity in back, Jack Mackenroth from Project Runway! He told us he's been to the D.E. Shaw party for a few years now because a friend works there. We noticed he disappeared around 8:30, not the only time last night he left the party too early. We left not long after that, just as the scientists and hedge-fund gurus were really getting into Rihanna's "Pon de Replay." And by "really getting into," we mean throwing their hands in the air, shaking asses, and forming dance circles. Feeling the weight of Cipriani's generous cocktail pouring, we decided that we'd have to leave if we didn't want to find ourselves in the mix with them. Plus, we had to go home and watch our new friend get kicked off a reality show.

Verdict: Food: 5 (the Cipriani catering, as always, was flawless); drink: 5 (we had at least that many); venue: 5; debauchery: 4; exclusivity: 3 (employees were each generously allowed a guest, and they weren't checking names at the door).

Barneys New York. "What is she wearing?" a nasally voice pierced the air at the holiday party for Barneys corporate at Bar Martignetti, and our heads swiveled toward it in alarm. Oh no, we were so busted. But wait — she wasn't talking about us. Relieved! Deciding what to wear to blend in with the Barneys people had been a harrowing experience. Even after deciding on basic black, we felt like an ostrich in a crowd of swans, surrounded as we were by complicated silky tops and handbags sporting absurd amounts of hardware. Happily, most guests looked through us as if we were made of air, and so we had free rein to observe the goods: bartenders pouring whatever you wanted; a back-room buffet with huge steaming trays of macaroni and cheese, among other things, plus trays of sliders and passed hors d'oeuvre. A waiter passed by with bruschetta topped with eggplant; we grabbed one. It was good, and crispy enough so it didn't collapse all over you the way bruschetta can. But oh, the garlic. We covered our mouths casually and turned to the dapper-looking older gentleman next to us. He was wearing a pin-striped suit. "Whagt roo whairhng?" "Valentino!" he said, sounding surprised. Of course! We should have known. We chatted up a men's-shoe buyer; he was wearing Dries Van Noten. Turns out Barneys gives its employees a 35 percent discount, in addition to yearly "wardrobe-building" discounts. Who's the office bitch?, we asked him. He wouldn't tell us. "Is this office, like, competitive, fashion-wise?" we asked a woman in an unintimidating outfit. She narrowed her eyes. "Who are you?" she said. "You're asking the wrong person. I'm in marketing." Then it was time to go.

Verdict: Food: 5 (good, and there was nothing on sticks, which we really appreciate since we still have some in our bag from the last party); drink: 3; debauchery: 3 (it was from seven to eleven, and we did hear someone say, "I've got to pace myself, after last year"); exclusivity: 1 (Us: "I work at Barneys." Doorman: "Okay.")