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People heard the radio advertisements, but they didn't believe it could be true.

They'd been let down before by party promoters promising the world, taking their money and refusing reimbursement when the "special invited guests" didn't show.

But not on Friday.

The promoters, Need Promo and Autographed To You (, were true to their word, and the 700 to 1,000 people who showed up at the Marriott Waterside in Tampa were able to revel in the presence of some of the world's most popular entertainers: R&B star Usher, rapper Kanye West and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

This was the official afterparty, the reprise to the positively energetic Usher concert at the St. Pete Times Forum. Though the afterparty's attendance was smaller than projected, and the chandeliered ballroom dwarfed the well-dressed crowd, many fans who came say they got their money's worth.

"This was off the chain," said Semilya Edwards, 25, of St. Petersburg. "This was unlike anything else in Tampa."

Edwards referred to the leather couches dotting the room, free liquor compliments of Level vodka and the hour-long hype session by Usher _ who addressed the crowd, hugged the girls and joshed with the DJ.

"We finally have arrived," said Tony Costa, a multicultural manager for Southern Wine and Spirits of Central Florida. "Usher coming to town has proven that fact. It's unbelieveable."

It was an intimate setting, not unlike an unplugged, acoustic concert, and something to be expected of a Super Bowl and Stanley Cup type of town, said former NBA star Matt Geiger.

"The young crowd has always enjoyed the nightlife in Tampa," said Geiger. "It's only going to get better from here."

Geiger, who had his own suede couches and cocktail table near Usher's private area, was in the VIP section. Tickets there cost $60. Regular partiers paid $30 to get in.

It's steep, but worth it, said Maurice Evans with Need Promo.

"It's a little difficult in this area because you don't have a lot of discretionary income," he said. "But this raises the bar. I hope it sets a precedent and encourages people to come out, dress up and boost the economy."

Usher's camp said it was one of the nicest afterparties they've seen on their multicity tour, which is now heading to Tallahassee.

West was just glad to be able to visit Tampa and see it in one piece, given the hurricane activity.

"I'm so happy to be a part of this," said West, who stopped to shake hands with guys and girls alike.

Adrienne Samuels can be reached at (727) 893-8398 or at