The Date: June 11, 2008
The Venue: Ziegfeld Theatre and Remi, New York
The Crowd: Pre-tweens, tweens and teens galore flooded the streets between the movie's premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater and the after-party at Remi across the street. But the underage guest list carried on throughout the party, where Disney execs, affiliate clients and celebrities celebrated with their easily excitable offspring. VIP guests: Actor Stephen Baldwin, ESPN president George Bodenheimer, ABC News' Deborah Roberts, reporters Bob Woodruff, Martin Bashir and Bill Ritter and NBC's Chairman Jeff Zucker. And let's not forget the movie's stars, teen megastar-in-the-making Demi Lovato and pop heartthrobs the Jonas Brothers. Ear plugs would have come in handy whenever they were within eyesight.
The Food: A tween's summer barbeque dream. Hot dogs, corn dogs, pasta and salad dominated the prominent picnic tables. Even more impressive, however, were the dessert tables, which were decorated with rows upon rows of pink-and-vanilla-frosted angel-food cupcakes, peanut-butter cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries and bananas. It was more than enough sugar to keep the kids awake until the movie's official premiere on the Disney Channel next Friday, June 20.
The Drinks: Even though virtually half the guest list was 15-and-under, that didn't keep Disney from keeping the adults well-lubricated. Three open bars scattered across the venue offered up all the wine, beer and mixed drinks the adults could quaff. In true barbeque fashion, they even had a cooler stocked with bottles of beer, complete with a handy opener for guests to share. Freeloader also sipped on the party's special Pomegrantini, which packed a surprisingly strong punch. When it comes to throwing a party, Disney officially does not half-ass anything.
The Swag: A ribbon-wrapped package of two copies of the "Camp Rock" soundtrack -- one was the actual CD, the other made of chocolate. Both equally sugary sweet and guaranteed to keep children awake all hours of the night.
Summer is here
How does Freeloader know summer has arrived? You mean aside from the 105-degree weather on the first full weekend in June? Well, we knew the new season had officially been ushered in when we heard the familiar shrieks of tween girls outside the after-party for "Camp Rock" at New York's Remi restaurant Wednesday. It's a sound you'd recognize from red-carpet award-show footage and Miley Cyrus concerts, but you tend to forget how ear-piercingly loud it is in person. Unknowing passersby might have thought someone had just passed out from the heat wave New Yorkers had endured all week, but alas, it was an even hotter summer phenomenon: a Jonas Brothers spotting!
That's right, Freeloader put shame aside and hoofed it over to Disney's "Camp Rock" after-party, where food, live tween music and unexpectedly powerful booze awaited. One thing that was immediately apparent upon entering: this was not your mama's summer-camp party.
Something for everyone
The bash was one part adult block-party, two parts family picnic and three parts rock concert, with picnic tables, open bars and beer coolers all taking a backseat to the towering stage that was about to host Demi Lovato, the rapidly-rising star of the made-for-TV movie. Freeloader couldn't decide what non-existent aspects of our childhood to harbor false nostalgia for first: summer camp (never went -- we don't do outdoors) or screamy teen-dream pop concerts (we favored Lilith Fair and Celine Dion in our youth, thanks.)
Nevertheless, the party was a mega-hit with Disney's core demographic, who basically owned the place. While waiting in line for our Pomegrantini (take it easy there on the vodka, Disney bartenders!), we watched as three pint-sized partygoers got served what we can only assume was virgin cranberry juice. Had it been our own party with kids ordering drinks without supervision we would've asked for ID ... except these tykes weren't old enough to have one in the first place.
The new Miley?
Thank goodness we were sufficiently liquored-up when the shrieking resumed, right on cue as La Lovato's name was announced over the blaring loudspeaker. She strutted on stage, with the confidence and swagger of a more mature Miley Cyrus (and by that, we mean she's four months older than her), plunging into a turbo-charged teen-pop/punk song. Maybe it was the instant energy, the throngs of screaming girls or the less-than-desirable sound system, but Freeloader couldn't make out a word. It wasn't until the end of the second song, a revved-up take on "That's How You Know" from Disney's "Enchanted," that we could decipher any of Lovato's performance at all. And that's only because her rock-star phrasing on "That's How You Know" made Freeloader conjure visions of "Enchanted"'s Amy Adams skateboarding through Central Park in an Avril Lavigne T-shirt with arm bracelets and Chuck Taylors.
But the big finale, both for the adoring crowd and Freeloader, came during Lovato's closing performance of "Camp Rock" showstopper "This Is Me," which doubles as a duet with her swoon-worthy co-star Joe Jonas. Although the song started out as a solo performance, the Jonas boys appeared halfway through, guitars in tow, and re-created the movie's climactic duet, amid thunderous applause and wails.
No freeloading off Freeloader
The young, silver-topped fan watching near Freeloader, who couldn't have been aged more than 8, was so overcome with excitement she nearly fell off the picnic table she'd been jumping on. Freeloader just sipped Amstel Light and reminisced about the similar joy we experienced during our days of surprise Lilith Fair duets (OMG! Sarah McLachlan and the Indigo Girls just sang "Closer to Fine!").
But the tween energy didn't end there, of course. Almost immediately upon exiting the party, Freeloader was bombarded by young Disney fans who couldn't get into the party and had made offers to buy our guest passes on our way in. "Excuse me, can I have your CD?" asked three over-eager tween girls. But Freeloader didn't budge. We've been doing this for years, girls. It's going to take a lot more than your polite pleas to make the Freeloader become the Freeloadee.