When Richard Branson comes to town, you naturally want in on whatever he’s got up his vast sleeves. And when Richard Branson throws a party, you know it’ll be the kind that has you twirling through the night, permanent smile affixed on your lips.
Upon receiving an invitation to the Virgin Atlantic launch party, while listening to Sir Richard’s inspiring words at the Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon, there was no debating my response. In like Flynn. My accomplice for the evening was Cassia*, a woman who puts sass in every action she takes and in every word that escapes her mouth. Clearly the perfect partner in crime for this evening… or any evening.
We were greeted at the grand entrance to the Commodore Ballroom by a brilliant red carpet flanked by Virgin flight attendants in their smart crimson and purple uniforms. Beauties straight from the 1970’s. The Commodore has the best entrance in town. Anticipation mounts with each climb of the lengthy stairs, music getting louder and louder the higher you go until you turn the corner and are rewarded with a scene sometimes comparable to Studio 54. In this case, a scene that could heal the sorest of eyes.
The centerpiece of the room was the massive open bar taking up most of the legendary dance floor, which was topped with a chandelier of union jack decorated umbrellas, and surrounded by tables of sushi, shepherd’s pie and a number of British culinary delights. VIP guests, such as Sarah McLachlan and Cory Monteith, were welcomed on the red carpet by Lainey Lui of Lainey Gossip and eTalk Daily. But the women getting the most attention were the beautiful acrobats dangling gracefully by their legs from the ceiling, filling glasses to the brim with bubbling champagne.
We spied Sir Richard making his rounds amongst the crowd quite freely and without mobbing. It was wonderful to see that he could mingle without consequence and it made him all that much more accessible and humble. While I didn’t have the opportunity to chat with Branson, the few seconds of eye contact and smiles that sparkled between us were hopefully enough to borrow some of his magical entrepreneurial spirit. I’m running with it.
Continuing on our lap of the ballroom, we came upon a set of seats for Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy and Upper Class. The legroom in Premium Economy made my long legs sing as they stretched almost fully out into empty space. Bliss. Upper Class, on the other hand, turns flying into a hotel room with its luxurious bed compartments. That’s the kind of flying I could get used to, champagne glass in hand. And did I mention that all Upper Class fliers have access to a bar? I sense a tales from a Virgin bar stool in my future…
A party isn’t a party without music and this soiree was not short on talent. Beginning and ending the evening we were treated to DJ Aimee Hawker, who got everyone on their feet dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Her fervent sets were broken up by a brief introduction to the party by Sir Richard (honestly, I had half hoped he would rappel in through a window), a performance by Britain’s answer to Justin Bieber, Conor Maynard, and an energetic show by Virgin’s house band, SWAY.
Women old enough to be Conor Maynard’s mum flocked to the stage with more enthusiasm than the young ones to hear him sing. It certainly was a sight to behold as he sang his lines, “Girls, girls girls, I just can’t say no” to all these mature ladies. My knowledge of pop stars and teen heartthrobs is not what it used to be in my 20’s… I didn’t even know who Cory Monteith was when we briefly chatted. I was simply enjoying the company of a tall, handsome man. Can you blame me?
As soon as SWAY hit the stage, the dance floor heaved with shimmies, shakes and spins. Cassia and I were recruited rather forcibly by two older ladies who grabbed us to storm the d-floor. I adored their passion. No holding back… they were having the best time of their lives. Later in the evening, we watched with dropped jaws as they carried out body shots with their partners with the kind of expertise that dictates it wasn’t their first rodeo. Gotta love free spirits. Secretly, I wished I had indulged in a body shot myself. Where was Cory Monteith when I needed him?
A highlight of my evening was watching the rubbery and rhythmic Spandy Andy destroy the dance floor and put all of our moves to shame with his elastic body. He needs to be a fixture at every party. Always. Does that guy ever have a frown on his smiling face? I’m quite sure the man has a heart made of candy.
Shoes littered the room as half of the women dancing needed full movement of their bodies for the damage they were doing on the floor. Inhibitions were in coat check and worries had floated up to the hanging umbrellas. I’ve never before seen a room of such blissful people. My eyes were drawn to a ruggedly handsome British man who moved without an ounce of pretension in his body. I imagined him to be a pilot in my fantasy world, but ever got the chance to ask. Cassia and I stuck with a bunch of feisty New Yorkers for most of our night, gravitating as usual to those who weren’t from our own city. In addition to Virgin bar stools, I see a trip to NYC in my future.
With only a few us remaining tearing up the room, the evening wound down for most, while some of us continued on for an after party. But those details I will not divulge…
Lessons from the Virgin Atlantic Party:
1. Introduce yourself like this to get a reaction: “My name is Ryan*, it means lightening in French”.
2. No one is ever too cool or too old to dance. And if you think you are, I’m dragging your ass to the d-floor.
3. Men from New York and London have fashion sense that trumps all the rest. Observe and imitate.
4. Body shots are never out of style. It’s all about how you carry them out. More Point Break than 9 ½ Weeks when in public. Behind closed doors… you know what to do…
5. Virgin Atlantic is the only airline that flies to London from Vancouver (well, in my mind).
*Names changed for obvious reasons