Neither rain nor heat nor NASDAQ downturns dampen the spirits of the dot-com crowd -- they just give them other excuses to party. Now that Website-launch events are beginning to thin, the latest reason to network and talk e-shop over a cocktail or two is the weekly Pink Slip Party thrown by Allison Hemming, president of the Hired Guns, a company that finds freelance professionals for start-ups.
Although Hemming says she started the parties this summer to help downsized dot-commers achieve "closure," the atmosphere last Wednesday at Chelsea's Rebar was more college mixer than encounter group. Gesticulating with $3 Bud bottles to underscore points about face-to-face and b-to-b, about 60 guys in sport jackets and women in sensible skirts compared war stories, job offers, and the bygone perks of a more optimistic Alley. "Did you get free soda in your office?" asked Steve Granados, a 33-year-old marketing consultant with an M.B.A. Around nine o'clock, six partyers draped in Mardi Gras beads rolled in from a HotJobs.com event and started a drunken dance circle in front of the D.J.
"What better way to look for a job than by having a couple of drinks?" said Susana Saja, a 27-year-old marketer who just got laid off from Orientation.com. "Being out of work is not stressful at all: I get to eat ice cream on the couch, watch movies, go to the beach. I'm not begging for a job; they are begging for employees."
They were there, too, purposefully drifting from clique to clique. "There's no stigma attached to people who have been downsized," said Reuel Ghosh, an information-technology specialist and recruiter for Bon-Accord, as he slipped a business card into his coat pocket. "I can't find people on the job boards, but at these things, someone always knows someone else who's available."
Accustomed to being wined and dined by prospective employers, most of the partygoers were less interested in importuning corporate suitors than in evaluating them. "Just because big companies have a lot of money, it doesn't mean they're any good," says Nicolas Lee, a 25-year-old new-media marketing strategist. I'll never just take a job again."