Conventions are for politicians what St. Patrick’s Day is for Irish people.
“They’re a chance to let your hair down and party ’til 4 a.m.,” said John Feehery, president of Washington-based Quinn Gillespie Communications.
For Republicans this week, that means two-stepping with country crooners, singing along with Journey and getting splashed by a frisky dolphin with a man-made tail.
Journey, whose 1981 hit “Don’t Stop Believin’” is about a small-town girl, smoky rooms and a boy from Detroit, will headline the entertainment industry’s Creative Coalition gala. Country-music star Sara Evans will perform for Got Your 6, a nonprofit that supports military veterans.
American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard is hosting a “Fueling the Future” party with the country band Zac Brown Band, known for hits such as “Chicken Fried.”
The musical themes don’t surprise Feehery, a spokesman for a former House speaker and a Republican who has been attending nominating conventions since 1992. Republicans tend to prefer “retro and country,” he said, while Democrats have a better time attracting the “hottest acts.”
Away from the music, corporate logos will be evident, reflecting company efforts to reinforce brands for the captive and influential audience.
‘Apps & Drinks’
Microsoft Corp., Facebook Inc., Visa Inc. and Tumblr Inc. are among the sponsors of StartUp RockOn, a series of music events and panel discussions about entrepreneurship.
Techies will unite at Facebook’s “Apps & Drinks,” for application developers and journalists. The “Innovation Nation” reception, co-sponsored by Facebook, the TechNet coalition of executives, Oracle Corp. and other technology companies, will salute pro-tech legislators.
Google Inc. gets the last word at its closing-night event at the Tampa Museum of Art, following Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. The party features locally grown produce, “quirky” American innovations and unsung artists and designers.
Microsoft is the sponsor of “Conversations With the Next Generation,” focusing on concerns of youth about job creation and education. The discussion will be moderated by Chelsea Clinton and hosted by the Atlantic and National Journal.
The series will further amp up its youth quotient thanks to George P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and partner at Pennybacker Capital LLC, and Representative Aaron Schock, the Illinois Republican hunk, and the House’s youngest member.
Billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez are among speakers at briefings co-sponsored by Bloomberg Government.
Bank of America Corp. is backing two media events: Politico’s daily “Playbook Breakfast” and the Atlantic and National Journal’s “Path to Power Luncheon.”
Politico’s nightly lounge will feature cocktails named after its corporate partners, such as the “Intel Fusion” of Ketel One vodka, blueberries and club soda and the “BAE Systems Countermeasure” of Johnny Walker Black Label, amaretto and orange juice. If you are a teetotaler like Romney you can quench your thirst at the Coca-Cola Refresh Station.
Visitors to the Huffington Post’s Oasis Lounge will be treated to yoga classes, facials, massages and reflexology. Are you feeling the Zen, yet?
Inner children will come out to play at The Entertainment Software Association’s video-game lounge at night. By day, guests can tag along with the Florida delegation on a lunchtime excursion to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of the famous dolphin Winter. An evening trip also is planned to Busch Gardens.
The Podesta Group is joining with Warehouse Productions on the “Warehouse Parties.” Joyce Gates, a former chief of staff to Representative John Boehner before he became speaker, has a history of converting large warehouse spaces into rollicking good times. Her 1996 Republican convention bash was known as “the best little warehouse party in San Diego.”
The nightlife continues at The Honey Pot club for gays and lesbians with “Homocon 2012,” a dance party organized by GOProud, a political action committee for gay conservatives. The theme is Studio 54 and guests will leave with disco-ball key chains.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)