Saturday, June 23, 2018
Politics

Glimpse the late-night RNC party scene in Ybor City

Scenes from Times reporters as they roamed the streets of Ybor on Monday night to check out RNC party action.

Ritz Ybor: On Ybor City's Seventh Avenue, the hottest ticket Monday night was a private concert by the bands Blues Traveler and Big Head Todd and the Monsters at the Ritz Ybor. Only a select few delegates, lobbyists and guests were lucky enough to bypass the heavy security and reach the lavishly decorated club, which was booked for the week by a group called Magnum Entertainment. The Ritz Ybor was scheduled to host live music all week, though as with every other party, it seems Magnum's having to scramble to make sure thinks go off without a hitch. On the tickets to Tuesday's concert, the headliners were listed as the Drive-By Truckers and Robert Earl Keen -- but the Drive-By Truckers dropped out of the convention three weeks ago, and as of Monday evening, Keen was stuck in Texas due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

Honey Pot: It was trimmed in pink and white for the feel of a swanky South Beach nightclub — albeit one whose menu includes popcorn and white chocolate-covered raisins — for "The White House Party," a joint effort by center-conservative womens' groups RightNOW! and VIEW PAC. Guests included RNC Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day and Congressional couple Mary Bono-Mack and Connie Mack IV, who snaked through the room of folks mostly clad in "summer chic" white dresses.

Amphitheatre: The Michigan GOP delegation moved their party from hipster haven Czar to dance mecca the Amphitheatre, whose rotating dance floor fit the headline entertainment, classic soul group the Spinners (I'll Be Around, The Rubberband Man). As logos of Michigan's pro and college sports teams flashed behind the stage, Great Lakes Staters noshed on a decidedly un-sexy dish: Domino's Pizza (Ypsilanti's own!) while VIPs smoked boxes of cigars on the upstairs balcony.

In the street: The most surreal scene may have come around 11:30 p.m. Monday, when dozens of chanting protesters carrying a golden elephant coalesced near the heart of Ybor. They marched west on Eighth Avenue, then back east on Seventh, filling the Ybor strip with their bodies and chants. The whole way, RNC delegates and visitors dressed for a night on the town held their iPhones aloft to capture the scene. As the mass approached the Michigan party at the Amphitheatre, a man shouted down from above: "Is this a protest?" From the street came the reply: "It's a revolution!" Only when the mass reached Gaspar's Grotto did it momentarily stop. As a band played for patrons on Gaspar's open-air patio, the protesters co-opted the music as their own, and danced in the middle of the street.

Jay Cridlin, Laura Reiley

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