By Shanley Knox and Coco Jones (WJC Spring 2009):
Scene: "But I'm moderate!" I yell across the dance floor.
Paul, the Republican from Ohio who has so recently offered me a dance and drink, is halfway across the room.
"We'll dance when you change your affiliation!" he yells over his shoulder.
Welcome to partying during CPAC week, where political affiliation is a dividing line on the dance floor.
Disclaimer: In our observations of the events below, we, in no way manipulated, fabricated or fallaciously added to the text of what we witnessed and participated in. This is, by no means, a reproduction of Stephen Glass’ work. With that said, we shall report to you on the story of partying with Young Republicans in Washington.
Thought: Should we pretend to be conservatives all night and see how it goes?
Whispered conversation: Should we have code names? Where should we say we’re from?
Interruption: Tall conservative asking me why I’m not dancing.
Location: Hawk and Dove, Pennsylvania Ave., Eastern Market.
Scene: Business suits everywhere—clean cut and freshly shaven.
Tip #1: When partying with conservatives, understand that the appropriate clubbing attire looks a lot like a casting call for “The Office.”
Moment: With a mouth full of Fish and tartar sauce, I survey the outfits around me. Take a drink of coke. The woman at the bar is wearing a high-collared shirt and small sandal heels. The men in ties to my left. The boy in a polo and khakis handing the bouncer, dressed in a black t-shirt and distressed jeans, his I.D. The woman in pearls and an argyle sweater smiling on a bar stool to my right. I giggle, and lean to tell Coco to catch a glimpse of someone behind her.
Thought: Why are they not dancing?
Moment: Walk over and post up along the wall on the dance floor. Observe a small group of people trying to dance…they can’t really stay in rhythm with the song. Make eye contact with Shanley with raised eye-brows. Something out of the corner catches my eye. Two guys—crew cuts, t-shirt and baggy jeans, typical military look—are staring at us. They are making hand gestures towards us and begin to walk over. I look toward Shanley. Taller guy asks if we want to dance. I look at Shanley. Have fun! Shanley looks at me with impartial look. Guy directs her to dance floor. I watch them, make sure I don’t have to intervene. Five minutes later. S.O.S. sign on Shanley’s face.
Tip #3: Honkey-tonk music can take a dead room and turn it into an instant party.
Thought: These people started moving so fast there must be a safety hazard – and the fire alarm sounds a lot like “Get out the way of Cotton-Eyed-Joe…”
Moment: Sipping on my coke and giggling with Coco, I look out over the quiet awkward people, and moved my head to the beat. Before I know it, Cotton Eyed Joe has started – there’s screaming, yelling, everyone gets into line and starts dancing like crazy: people running into each other, laughter. Mayhem. The awkward silence is over. The party has begun. An hour later the cupid shuffle comes on to keep the party going strong…and everyone breaks out of their bump and grind routines to begin the two-step.
Tip #4: Forget stilettos and your favorite eye-liner, you don’t need to be beauty pageant material to win a partner, you just have to love Sarah Palin, or, perhaps, look like a hockey mom.
Paul (OH-R): “You guys here for CPAC?”
Shanley and Coco: Yes, of course!
Paul (OH-R): Bull S**t
Shanley and Coco: Well, actually, we live here. We’re interns on the hill.
Paul (OH-R): Bull S**t. I don’t believe your names. You have false names. Let me see some ID. Shanley and Coco: *Shrug*, pull out IDs
Thought: I can’t believe I’m showing Paul (OH-R) my I.D. to prove my name.
Paul (OH-R): Okay, fine. So you guys are here for CPAC.
Shanley and Coco (business lie – different than a normal lie): Now we are!
Moment: Feeling emboldened (and a little bored) I tell Paul I’m not a Republican. “WHAT?” Paul takes his hands off me like a baby off a hot stove. Paul abruptly walks away from me.
Thought: He’s joking.
Second thought: He’s definitely serious.
Third thought: This is ridiculous.