DJ Jeremy Sole at the California for Obama victory party in Century City. Click image for entire slideshow. (All photos by Timothy Norris)
Driving down Sunset Boulevard west toward the California Obama for America victory party, National Public Radio is confirming a new reality. States are tipping. The entire northeast for Obama. South Carolina’s gone red, Virginia’s too close to call but teetering toward Obama. North Carolina is neck and neck. And what of Ohio? “It’s becoming ever apparent that the numbers are not going to add up for John McCain,” says the anchorman. Down the dial, Darren Revell on Indie 103.1 is rocking Radiohead’s “Electioneering.” “When I go forwards you go backwards,” croons Thom Yorke, “and somewhere we will meet.”
The Century Plaza Hotel is on Avenue of the Stars in Century City, right across the street from the new Creative Artists Agency headquarters – known to Angelenos as the Death Star. Makeshift merchandisers are hawking Obama buttons and T-shirts to the lines of revelers headed inside. A guy walks along the sidewalk and screams, “They just called Florida for Obama!” to hugs and hollers. Inside the lobby is every Huckabee’s nightmare: Thousands of Hollywood Liberals shoulder-to-shoulder, smiling and gliding down escalators toward their victory party in Gomorrah.
Rodney "On the Rock" Bingenheimer. Click image for entire slideshow.
In the main room, which plays host to awards shows on other nights, DJ Jeremy Sole of KCRW is pumping a Stevie Wonder big-beat remix to the shoulder-to-shoulder thousands. A net of red, white and blue balloons compete with the crystal chandeliers for overhead attention. “You can feel it all over,” sings Stevie. (Later Sole will tell me that he picked songs from across the globe for his set, wanted to deliver “the universal rhythm” to the revelers.) Wolf Blitzer’s on an even bigger screen here, and he’s talking to a holographic image of Black-Eyed Peas producer will.i.am. A line of Latino women passes, all of them wearing T-shirts which boast, “700,000 Calls.” Fifty-five percent Obama’s phone bank efforts originated in California.
When the victory announcement arrives, the thousands scream and hug and kiss and do what giddy people do. That part of the night can’t be put into words. One of the huggers, a woman, captures President Elect Obama’s – and America’s – most pressing question: “Now what?,” she wonders to no one in particular, and a few people smile and nod.
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Victory. Click image for entire slideshow.
Across town a half hour later at the Echoplex dance club in Echo Park (I had to leave before Z-Trip took over at the Century), Diplo is holding court on the turntables to a vast conspiracy of twenty-somethings – the youngsters who helped deliver victory to President-Elect Obama. It feels like New Year’s Eve, and as he drops M.I.A.’s horn-heavy anthem “XR-2,” the rhythm hits like a train: “Where were you in ’92?” rhymes M.I.A. Unlike at the Century, the joy here is sexualized. Couples are full-body hugging, and making out. It feels like that famous photo of soldiers returning from World War II and getting wet kisses from ladies in New York City. Every contact feels extra honest, like we’ve just been through such an ordeal that we long for real comfort. Diplo screams into the mic along to the rhythm: “O-bam-a! Oh my god! O-bam-a! Oh my god!”
(Query: There was a rumor going around that Daft Punk was going to celebrate by spinning at Cinespace last night. Did anybody go over there? If so, let us know in the comments section.)