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Monday, September 3, 2012

In Charlotte, Convention-Goers Find Inspiration After Hours


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - “Would you like a roasted oyster?” asked the server in black, bouncing slightly to the throbbing bass, as guests entered the StartUp RockOn party. “They're an aphrodisiac.”

The Party

Capturing the scene at the Democratic National Convention.

(Pork sliders and fried chicken skewers were also passed, but only the amply stocked open bar seemed to promise an evening of similar potential.)

Nonetheless, some hundred-odd revelers on Monday evening ventured to Amos's Southend, a warehouse of a club in the Southend section of town, for a performance by the Roots and Allen Stone. Before the main event, guests sipped drinks, waved their arms to a “Call Me Maybe” remix, and buzzed about Will.i.am, who was also slated to perform.

StartUp RockOn, a group of three start-ups that joined to promote - what else - start-up culture, drew a trucker-hat and fedora-wearing multicultural crowd. Politicos like David Sutphen - a partner at the Brunswick Group and brother of Mona Sutphen, the former White House deputy chief of staff - glided across the room and reconnected with old friends. And celebrities like Rosario Dawson and Jon Hamm were also on the list, though as of press time (i.e. when your moonlighting party-reporter decided to sip in the scene elsewhere) they had yet to materialize.

But despite the comely crowd that could have been taking in an up-and-coming act at any cozy venue, signs of that trademark Obama earnestness best associated with his campaign four years ago did seep through. Organizers wore shirts emblazoned with eithe r “Innovate,” “Create,” or “Inspire.”

And Steven Leyh, a member of the Maryland delegation, offered - largely unprompted - that he had ventured down to Charlotte this week because “that's how you change the world.”

“Politics is about inspiring people,” he said, gin and tonic in hand and shouting to be heard over the din. “The real reason why we're here, the reason I'm a Democrat, is because we're a party of inclusion and what better way to do that than to include people from all over the world.”