Apparently the best way to get to Coco de Ville, the location of this month's Digital Drinks @ Digital LA, is to “just look for the paparazzi out front and you'll find it.” When you spend most of your time at networking events it's very easy to forget that “the paparazzi” exists. I have never been to Coco De Ville but judging by the description on the invite it's ultra chichi so off with the flats and on with the Vera Wang heels. I wonder if it'll be the kind of L.A. club where breast augmentation is a prerequisite to get in.
My instinct on the fancy shoes is as right on as the paparazzi tip (there's not much one can do about implants on such short notice). Digital Drinks at Coco De Ville is as glamorous as you can get for an industry get-together NOT powered by Google – it's the sexiest party I've been to in the tech trade thus far, and the only one with a velvet rope. “It's obvious,” expresses Kevin Winston, founder of Digital LA and a Sales Developer at MySpace, as he looks around the plush, lavishly decorated bar, “somebody paid money to be here.” More than 400 “somebodys” is more like it; technorati from MySpace, FOX Interactive, NBC, the CW, Disney, Yahoo!, Warner Bros, William Morris, CAA and UTA (as well as the aforementioned Google) are all representing, and looking smoking hot while they do it.
Social dynamo Winston started the event one year ago with 10 friends in attendance. Now more than 400 of his nearest and dearest meet monthly at the Hollywood “it” bar of the moment (past events have been held at Skybar, the Roosevelt, Les Deux, and the Green Door) in order to network in style and enjoy Digital LA perks like free giveaways and discounted drinks. New media glitterati looking for non-party related sustenance can attend industry themed panels like the upcoming Digital Music LA on February 2nd.
Alexandra Mokh co-founder and community director of Girl Gamer was more than effusive about Digital LA's convergence of Hollywood swank and tech, “I love this!” she exclaimed and she sat outside with friends on the dimly lit patio, describing Digital LA as “the best event of the month.” In terms of pure unadulterated fun, it's true. I am having a raucous time, and business cards are being lobbied at me left and right. The cards are heavily entertainment slanted, although I do talk with developers, start-up founders, and am pointed in the direction of a “lady who does real estate.” I even get a few dinner offers. Winston confirms, “In a town where who you know matters, Digital LA is the place to get to know them.”
And you can take your pick; Coco De Mer was so packed at the beginning of the night that Mike Prasad, CEO and co-founder of Girl Gamer and Director of Marketing for Kogi BBQ (a.k.a the taco truck that Twitters) heard that people couldn't get in at first. I meet Mike because he approaches me and pulls the “don't I know you from somewhere?” line. Except it's actually true. We've been inadvertently following each other online and laugh over the fact that small talk is now passé -rendered obsolete by whatever app you're using to update your status. We become fast friends by the end of the night and at some point he even saves me from falling down the bar's staircase in my oh-so-high heels. The power of people helping people is nothing new; technology (and Digital LA) simply makes it easier to zero in on the ones that seem cool.
One attendee expressed the true spirit of Los Angeles as he looked around the brightly colored environs and into the neighboring STK dining area, “Isn't it amazing?” he smiles, “I used to be waiting tables and now I have a job.” In a city where one can go from pauper to paparazzi magnet overnight it makes sense that media startup culture has taken the bull by the horns and run. Sometimes all it takes is a little star treatment to remind us of how far we've come and what we're striving for- and sometimes it's just rad to have an excuse to wear nice heels.
Tickets $10 – Check Digital LA site for location and date updates.