I've got to say that I walked into Monday night's Ideal Bite party in midtown Manhattan with absolutely no idea of what to expect.
I knew that Ideal Bite was a new daily e-mail list that specialized in "light-green living"--you know, a sort of DailyCandy for eco-yuppies. The event, titled "Garden of Hedonism," promised "a night of total titillation that's both decadent and green," and that it would be held at--Johnny Utah's!?
New Yorkers who follow restaurant openings and closings are undoubtedly familiar with Johnny Utah's, an "upscale-cowboy" theme restaurant and bar across the street from Rockefeller Center. It's also home to one of only two mechanical bulls in Manhattan, and apparently, the rationale for holding a vaguely green-related party there is that the bull is solar-powered.
Al Gore would be proud.
Unfortunately, I didn't ride the bull; I had some reconnaissance to do because I still wasn't exactly sure what the event was all about. Ideal Bite, as I soon learned, is the newest offspring of Pilot Group, the on-the-down-low media investment group run by MTV co-founder and former AOL Chief Operating Officer Robert Pittman.
Pilot Group, as some better-informed attendees told me, currently has stakes of varying degrees in locally run e-mail newsletters DailyCandy and Thrillist, as well as music blog Stereogum. I also heard that there's a connection of sorts to elite social-networking site ASmallWorld.
This, of course, means that Ideal Bite is a well-moneyed start-up. As a result, the launch party featured an open bar with organic signature cocktails (like the "Forbidden Apple," consisting of vodka, apple juice, lime juice, apple brandy, sparkling cider, and mint leaves), scantily clad dancers wearing faux fig leaves, and well-stuffed swag bags.
The crowd was very Midtownish, very BlackBerry-friendly, and suspiciously good-looking for a dot-com launch party--thirty-somethings, mostly, the men in suits and the women wearing outfits strategically assembled to bridge the gap between office life and nightlife.
I ran into some of the folks behind Thrillist and DailyCandy--Thrillist co-founder Adam Rich reminded me that his start-up is having its own soiree later this week and asked, "What's with all these parties suddenly happening all the time?" Really, you'd swear it were, you know, Silicon Valley. Except we're cuter here.
Also around: Blip.tv co-founder Dina Kaplan, Flavorpill co-founder Mark Mangan, the team from events start-up SpongeCell--as well as two of the guys who run the Webby Awards, who have been very kind to CNET in the past.
Not spotted: anyone from TreeHugger, which presumably offers a less sassy shade of green than Ideal Bite. (TreeHuggers, correct me if I'm wrong, and you actually were there.)
One male attendee eagerly pointed out a couple of Ideal Bite's female writers. "They're hot!" he whispered to me. "I thought they'd be, like, crunchy!"
Pittman was there, but he was naturally mobbed by guests all night. The person I really wanted to talk to was Jason Rapp, senior vice president of mergers and acquisitions at InterActiveCorp, whose company had just made a five-way split earlier that day. Rapp was receiving congratulations aplenty, perhaps for his company's candor in admitting to press and investors that its sprawling scope was a disadvantage.
Rapp was upbeat when I asked him how the outlook was for IAC. "We're doing great! Did you see the stock prices?" True, IAC shares did leap up a bit after Monday's announcement. Before I could grill him any further, someone else snagged him and presumably started asking the same questions.
So, the people were pretty, the conversation was good, and the drinks were free. The only problem, really, was the star attraction: the solar-powered bull. My only real familiarity with mechanical bull-equipped venues was when I was in Los Angeles in July for E3, and attended a party at the Sunset Strip's pseudo-legendary Saddle Ranch Chop House. Let's just say the ferocity of the bull at Johnny Utah's paled in comparison to its West Coast counterpart, which I pointed out to an anonymous observer.
"What, do they want to f***ing break the spinal column of some senior vice president at AOL or something?" He had a point.