The Date: Aug. 20, 2007
The Venue: Daryl Roth Theater, New York
The Crowd: A mix of Del Monte friends and family, cat lovers, press and a few cool cats including supermodel Rachel Hunter and "Sopranos" star Vincent Pastore aka "Big Pussy."
The Food: Grilled paninis and an array of fancy finger foods for the humans and a buffet of Meow Mix's finest goods for the felines.
The Bar: Most of your basic cocktails and beers. But the night's popular thirst quencher was the Ocean Explosion -- a blend of tea, ginseng, vodka and cranberry juice.
Cheerleaders, a marching band, orange carpets and a cat-shaped car said it all. The Back to School Party at the Meow Mix Acatemy promised to be one of the stranger bashes on the circuit this year, and Freeloader was not going to miss it.
Walking into the Daryl Roth Theater on Union Square's East Side felt like stepping back into high school. Upon entering the building, visitors registered for school, took a picture for an orange paw-imprinted ID and received a class list. As you cruised down the hallway of orange lockers, waiters served sparkling water with a twist of lime and the night's signature drink, Ocean Explosion. "Students" tried their turntable skills with the DJ Scratch Academy in homeroom or exercised their feline reflexes at the human-size kitty condo in the gymnasium.
But with all the feline-friendly stuff, one question still remained: Where were all the cats? Unfortunately, only about 10 of them could make it out to the event.
Still, the event was lively with people noshing on mini cheeseburgers (though we saw no LOLCats proclaiming "I Haz Cheezburger!") and parmesan pudding, and taking photos with the Meow Mix cat. As the night rolled on, the venue filled almost to capacity. Crowds became more congested when America's Next Top Model winner CariDee English and "Big Pussy" from the Sopranos arrived. Cameras flickered paparazzi-style as they made their way through the party into the Cool Cats' Lounge (VIP for all those uncool cats).
But most people were really waiting for Kat DeLuna, singer of the summer groove track, "Whine Up." Many didn't know what she looked like, but most had heard the hit song at least once. As guests gathered and waited for the concert, DJ Cassidy spun a number of dance hits to get the party moving.
The beats were so infectious that the Meow Mix cat and Iron Chef America's Cat Cora started dancing, causing everyone to circle around them on the dance floor. This was the perfect moment to bring the singing Kat onstage.
Dressed in denim short shorts and a white tank, the petite songstress caught everyone's attention with her soulful voice and sultry moves. The choreography was so intense that most of her jewelry had flown off by the end of the set. (Not to worry: No one was harmed by flying accessories.) She even serenaded a little boy who was either overwhelmed by the gesture or too young to realize what was going on. By the time Ms. DeLuna sang "Whine Up," the acatemy had transformed into a club with everyone holding their drinks up high and shaking their hips. At this point, Freeloader decided we were too cool for school, and slunk home.