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At Sundance, it’s all about the parties

The Beastie Boys provided entertainment at the MySpace bash
/ Source: The Associated Press

If Groucho Marx were at the Sundance Film Festival, he might be moved to say: “I wouldn’t want to attend any party that would have me as a guest.”

Park City is a place where publicists say that everyone invited to the plethora of parties is a VIP. But those in the know understand that VIP in this case means “Variety of Invited People.”

The real VIPs are kept far away from the masses, ushered by security directly to a private area, while celebrity watchers and other often-unrecognizable folks are forced to wait outside in the cold for at least an hour, in the hope they might get inside to check out the hip and famous.

Despite the high number of parties that take place during the 11 days of the festival, the majority of them with celebrity access — mostly tossed by the movie companies — are small and exclusive. The larger parties, each generally with a combination of sponsors, allow for a little more room on the guest list.

Hitting a party at the film festival is all about who you are or who you know, but those who make it in can glimpse stars, sip free beverages and sometimes see a good show.

Monday night’s party was just such an occasion and featured a floor-shaking performance by the Beastie Boys.

According to organizers, 1,200 people were invited to the party. Invitees to major parties at the festival are generally a mix of entertainment industry and media people and whomever else organizers are able to get “on the list.” Of course, big names are invited too, but they don’t have to cool their heels outside where there are countless photographers eager for a moneymaking shot.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Gina Gershon were among stars attending the MySpace party at Park City Mountain Resort’s Legacy Lodge. But all notables were shepherded from a press photo area to the exclusive top level of the room, which looked down on the stage.

In an hour-long set, the Beastie Boys and DJ Mix Master Mike powered through 12 songs and a one-song encore. An enthusiastic mob gathered around the stage jumping up and down so hard the floor of the room, which is probably usually used for meetings and company retreats, was shaking violently. The show was a success, especially when you consider that it’s not uncommon at Sundance parties for a major artist to be performing before a crowd of industry-types more interested in networking than listening to the music.

Harry's hot nightsThat’s been the case on more than one occasion over the years at Harry O’s, the largest club in Park City, which serves as a hub for Sundance parties.

The first five days of this year’s festival, Blender Magazine transformed the space to resemble Tao Nightclub, a Las Vegas club in the Venetian Hotel.

Blender’s parties have been a staple at the festival for the past four years and have featured performances by Beck, Snoop Dogg and Liz Phair.

This year, each of the five nights of parties the magazine presented were hosted by a big name: actor Gael Garcia Bernal, socialite Paris Hilton and actor Wilmer Valderama, to name a few. Musical performances included Metal Skool, Broken Social Scene and reggae artist Damien Marley.

“We want to do it differently every year and keep it new and fresh,” said William Gaseperoni, Blender’s marketing director. “Last year was Snoop Dogg. This year was Damien Marley and next year we’ll look for the right theme and who’s hip.”

The Blender parties are invitation only. Gyllenhaal, rocker-turned-reality-TV-star Tommy Lee and Nick Nolte were among those who partied in Blender party’s VIP section — also located upstairs in the club.

Planning for next year’s events will begin almost immediately, Gaseperoni said.