The Gate Crasher: My Very Own VIP

The Gate Crasher stumbles upon a VIP party at Planter's, and finds out how "very important" it is

“Are you here for the VIP party?” asked the lady behind the Garderobe at Planter’s, a 1st District lounge bar, padded to perfection in brown leather and dark wood.

Well, now I am, I thought to myself. “I’ll just join my friends inside.” I smiled. Once a gate crasher…

A friend of mine had raved about the place, and wanted to show it off to me and a visiting friend. Although we had planned to meet there, we hadn’t known about said VIP event going on in the back room. Under my jacket, I could feel my muscles flex. Ready to pounce.

I entered the front room and surveyed the dimly lit interior with classy patrons settling into the cushy, high-back fauteuils. Above, a gallery of shelves wrapped around the room like a library – only these were filled with bottles instead of books, which suited me just fine. Too dark to read anyway, I told myself, and went off in search of the so-called Very Important People in the brighter back room.

At the entrance, a tuxedoed bouncer guarded the way, like Cerberus at the Gates to the Underworld. Hmmm. I thought about the old distraction gag (“Look over there! Arnold Schwarzenegger!”). Then I got a better idea.

Behind him, a barrier wrapped around toward the bar on the right side, behind which was the entrance to the restrooms. Nice set up. Just do as nature intended and access to the VIP party room was mine!

The first time was easy; the bouncer gave me a nod, and indicated the restroom. I followed, craning my neck to see who was there. Many of the patrons were dressed nicely, looking like they were enjoying their apparent fame. But I didn’t recognise anyone. However, the camera crew of Puls4 network apparently did reccognise someone, as they filmed a gleaming woman with jet-black hair in mid-interview.

After doing my duty, I returned to the bouncer and asked whose birthday was being celebrated. “A former Miss Austria…” he revealed. I turned back and saw her, standing in the spotlight of the camera lens, her smile gleaming as she spoke to the reporter. But it seemed the bouncer was on to me, and I slipped back among the VOPs (very ordinary people), like me.

Some minutes later, the strains of “Happy Birthday” wafted back through the door, and I returned to the VIP threshold to my “friend” the bouncer. Who was she?

“Tanja Duhovich, Miss Austria in 2003.” She was turning 30. First her mother spoke, gushing about how great the past 30 years have been, followed by the lass herself, announcing how much she was looking forward to the next 30. Here, here!

I re-joined my company in the front room.  But time crawled; ten minutes later, curiosity lured me back once again. And again, I said I needed to visit the lavatory. He nodded again, this time with an incredulous smirk.

Then, finally, I recognized one of the glitterati: Austrian footballing legend Toni Polster! As a football fan myself, this was a guy I wanted to talk to. Returning from the restroom – ok, I only walked in and walked back out – I waited for the right moment and walked up to him.

He greeted me cordially. “Two of your compatriots (Landsleut’) played at Vienna Viktoria,” he said. That’s the club where he is currently the manager. He was very down to earth. I was surprised: If he was a VIP, he sure didn’t act like it. Which made it all the nicer.

There had been other worthies there I found out later, ones I probably should have recognised: pop singer Missy May, TV cook Bernie Rieder, swimmer Fabienne Nadarajah, and the 2007 Miss Austria, Christine Reiler.

But for me, there was only one that mattered. And I got to meet him.

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