Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

RNC's Warehouse Party 2012 gives Tampa's Kress building a fantasy makeover

It was billed as perhaps the swankiest, sexiest party series of Tampa's RNC week: A week of invite-only events in the historic 800 block of N Franklin Street in downtown Tampa.

And while tickets were tough to come by, once partiers got inside, the soiree was pretty slick.

The "Truly Legendary" Warehouse Party 2012 transformed the S.H. Kress, F.W. Woolworth and J.J. Newberry buildings into a bright, live music hall that combined the tropical, the nautical and the fantastical into a setting a world apart from most RNC affairs.

Organized by D.C.-area party planner Joyce Gates, a former chief of staff to John Boehner, the party space required upgrades to the buildings that reportedly cost at least $660,000.

The party was divided roughly into thirds. The main hall featured a central bar constructed like a carousel — the liquor shelves in the center actually rotated — while the east end featured a huge dance floor and music stage built to resemble a pirate ship. There were waterfalls, elaborate sea-creature statues and flat-screen TVs imploring patrons to tweet about the party with the hashtags #warehouse2012 and #trulylegendary.

Another quadrant featured a dimmer, more intimate cafe-style jazz lounge; a beachy setting where patrons could pose for photos in a swath of sand; and an area where partiers could snap a souvenir green-screen photo of themselves superimposed alongside a baby circus elephant. And in a top balcony was a VIP lounge.

The clientele spanned all ages, getting younger as the night went on. Some patrons bounced from party to party around Tampa.

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