You would not have recognized Tony's Wednesday night as 350 invitation-only guests poured into the swank restaurant for an evening of food and drink and casino-style gambling for what had to be one of the premiere events of the Offshore Technology Conference.
And that was just one of the parties that are keeping convention-goers entertained after hours this week. Though nothing can compare to the OTC parties of yore, before shareholders and political correctness stepped in to tone things down, there have been a few mega nights that attendees won't soon forget.
The wine cellar dazzled with ice carvings, a lobster bar and an 8-foot high seafood tower.
Tony's, for example, took on a Monaco vibe in a transformation that began Tuesday night and wasn't completed until guests started arriving early evening on Wednesday. For starters, the circular drive became an outdoor lounge complete with wall panels wrapped in faux fig ivy and with over-stuffed furnishings and mood lighting. Just right for smoking the cigars that were hand-rolled on the spot for guests of the oil services company.
Red velvet draped dining room walls and where dinner tables once stood, casino tables beckoned and three bands performed. (Alas, no photos allowed.) Against the kitchen window wall (covered in black velvet), an elaborately decorated whiskey and scotch bar offered premium aged labels, think Macallan 18 and 25. The wine cellar dazzled with ice carvings, a lobster bar and an 8-foot high seafood tower. Aerial dancers performed beneath the Three Graces sculpture. Champagne flowed throughout the night and guests crowded around the slicing station for been tenderloin. Ka-ching!
Ranking high on the best parties of OTC list is the Federal Reserve rooftop bash, hosted by an international engineering firm, that was a major hit for its location alone. Five hundred guests, five bars (emphasis on margaritas) and a Cinco de Mayo theme set the pace. Guests are still raving about the Tex-Mex buffet, the downtown views and the mariachi music. Adding to the festive nature of the night were colorful party favors — beribboned floral wreaths and Mardi Gras-style necklaces of blinking jalepenos.
For a Nigerian oil company event at the St. Regis Hotel, they presented The Lion King's "Circle of Life" complete with parading air-brushed "animals" and a Broadway singer.
Few hotels have been without big parties this week such as the Royal Sonesta, which hosted on Monday an oil supply company's bash complete with massive ice sculptures depicting barges and rigs and a menu of American and Asian fare that included a sushi bar. The following night an authentic Korean menu was called for by another host company.
Over at the Westin Galleria Hotel, Keppel Corp. pulled out the stops with its night of wining and dining that featured at least six bars and lavish buffet tables that had one guest declaring the party "nothing less than spectacular."
Even The Tasting Room in Uptown Park has cashed in on the OTC windfall. UHY's global energy team invited some 200 guests for an evening of food and wine pairings, representing the various countries where UHY has offices. Tops on the list was the nod to Ian Williams of Scotland, UHY Campbell Dallas chairman, for which Belhaven Scottish Ale was paired with smoked salmon with cucumber-dill creme.
Not all of the events have been purely promotional. Energy XXI, United Vision Logistics and Dupre Energy Services took over Hughes Hangar Tuesday night for a 6 to midnight bash benefiting the Coastal Vision Foundation. That evening featured Grammy Award winning accordion sensation Wayne Toups on stage.
J&D Entertainment has had its talent working overtime this week as the firm has provided "towering divas" (9-foot tall glamazons), aerial artists, champagne chandeliers and costumed characters for all manner of OTC parties. For a Nigerian oil company event at the St. Regis Hotel, they presented The Lion King's "Circle of Life" complete with parading air-brushed "animals" and a Broadway singer. And, yes, the signature "naked" girl in the bathtub filled with olives has been spotted as well.