Sundance: The Top Parties, Swag, and Scenes for 2014 (Updating)

A handpicked (and constantly updated) guide to the best parties, free stuff, cheap Uber, endless vodka and every bit of non-cinematic fun in Park City

Last Updated: Thursday, January 16.

Welcome to the off-screen scene.

For those with a film, a friend with a film, or just a smile and a plane ticket, there’s tons of fun to be had in Park City that has nothing to do with independent cinema. It’s Hollywood, and the entertainment marketing industry’s field trip to the snow – the opening days of the Sundance Film Festival 2014.

Also read: Sundance Film Festival by the Numbers: Why Fox Searchlight Makes the Best Bets (Infographic)

While there’s no immediate “oh-wow” party that has emerged at this point, as compared to the U2 or 50 Cent affairs of years  past, a few known quantities are trying on the host role for the first time, freshening up the social scene.

Nikki Beach Pop-Up Lounge & Restaurant At The Re:Treat - Day 1 - 2013 Park City

Jennifer Hudson at the Nikki’s Beach space at Sundance 2013.

Having already circulated his famed “Sundance List” to his choice of the top 200 media and publicists, producer Christopher Ryan had 800 unread emails requesting access to the secured info just last week.

“Even this week, people are scrambling to put together parties,” Ryan said. “It’s all coming together too late.” He got his booking done early, with the TV production company behind Discovery’s “Flip Men” sponsoring the “Power and Industry List” itself.

Also read: Sundance: Bryan Singer, Tracy Chapman, Leonard Maltin, ‘Prometheus’ Writer Join Juries

Stella Artois Hosts Press Dinner For James Franco At The Stella Artois Cafe At Village At The Lift - 2013 Park City

Sundance Festival Director John Cooper, festival regular James Franco and Sundance Director of Programming Trevor Groth huddled up last year.

Here are my picks for the top places to swag, sip, and socialize your way through Park City in four categories: Nightlife/Parties, Swag, Free Eats, and Cast Party Clubhouses.

Updates to come here and in real time on the pop-up instagram/twitter feeds, @SundanceParties.

Also read: Will Sundance Movies Elect to Screen on Vimeo First?


Nas Performs at TAO Nightclub Sundance - Night 2

Lil Jon, Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun, and TAO Group boss Noah Tepperberg in the TAO space last year on opening weekend.

I’ve gotten the most requests from people wondering where they will drink and whose butt they need to kiss to get on a list. Here’s the best:

*MUST* Uber

No matter what party you don’t know about or can’t get in to, you’ll need this to get there.

Convince your friend to sign up as a new member. Code “PRDeptVIP” gets 20 bucks off the first ride. It’s not just for the busy opening weekend, as Uber tells me they’ll be in Park City for the duration of the festival — which, by the way, means through Grammy Sunday, January 26. Yikes, things are happening early this year.

*MUST* Tao

There are two key one-night-only conventions of the entertainment marketing, media and celebrity PR industrial complex a year – the opening Friday night here and the Neon Carnival at Coachella.

From Friday night until Tuesday morning (11 p.m. -4 a.m. ish) everyone from Scooter Braun, Paris Hilton, and Harvey Weinstein to Nas have been brushing up against each other and several cross-sections of the pop culture landscape in the most star-studded below-ground parking garage in the universe.

*NEW* SBE’s Sayer’s Club

625 Main Street at “Downstairs” (the corner of Main/Heber you walk past 10 times a day), Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.

200. Mark Ballas Cover

Mark Ballas headlining at the Sayers Club in Hollywood in October.

A welcome addition to the nightlife scene. Live music in intimate private parties has been largely missing the past two years since the heyday of Drake and Florence and the Machine at the Bing Bar, One Republic playing the basement of the House of Hype, and even the Scott Weiland no-show show where Matt Sorum had to sing “Patience” years ago.

It’s familiar ground for SBE, as they’ve had Hyde in the Downstairs space the past couple of years. Now it’s a satellite of the Sayer’s Club, with Capital Cities performing Friday and Jason Scoppa’s Sayers Sessions with Chris Holmes on Saturday. Part of the reason for the pop up is to promote the forthcoming SLS Las Vegas hotel, which debuts this fall. With the aforementioned TAO, it’s another whiff of Las Vegas at the festival.

Park City Live
427 Main St., concerts nightly, tickets available

The space formerly known as “Harry O’s” has been a lot of things over the years, from “Blender Sessions at TAO” to a very quiet partnership with Wynn Resorts nightlife last year. Now with their legs under them, Park City Live is producing their own slate of concerts with international acts during the big first weekend.

They have Kaskade and Skyler Grey on Friday, the insanely mobile Steve Aoki on Saturday, and club favorite twin DJs Nervo on Sunday night.  Do you hear a theme? E.D.M.

Billboard is sponsoring the concerts as well as the “PCL Day Lounge”, where there’s gifting from audio-appropriate Sonos and kicks from Creative Recreation. Although industry VIPS will get seating and TLC for the shows, there are general public tickets available and the venue is making an effort not to shut out their demographic who fills the room the 51 weeks of the year when the industry doesn’t invade — which is smart.

Also smart: landing Aoki. The guy sells out (in a good way), draws big, and due to his recently re-upped residency with Hakkasan in Las Vegas, would be prohibited from playing (or likely even socializing) amongst the more industry-complex-heavy TAO down the hill.

*NEW* Social Film/Loft
738 Main St., Friday January 17 – Monday, January 20

The Houston brothers, the L.A. twins behind La Descarga, No Vacancy, Pour Vous, and Dirty Laundry import their hospitality to Park City with a day lounge and varied nightlife. Expect some familiar Park City celebrity DJ types, as well as dancers and a live band. Of course, of all the nightlife options, this is the place for cocktail-cocktails, not vodka and sugar free red bull in airline plastic.

The One Group and Gansevoort Dance Party
Friday, January 17

Now a returning staple, the Friday night dance party kickoff also came to Toronto this year. They’re in the Rock & Reilly’s space, but you’ll see the line before you see the sign.

Rock and Reilly’s

Tucked in just outside the doors to the left of Park City Live, what was a pop-up last year is now permanent. The Sunset Boulevard location in West Hollywood has TV industry money behind it, and opened with a birthday party for “New Girl” creator Liz Meriwether, so there’s no reason to suspect the Park City location won’t be heavy on industry pre-or-post Park City Live, even after the Gansevoort party on Friday.

Best Swag

*Winner*: Aerial Drone Cameras
The chopper industry is on notice. Dji is gifting “Phantom 2 Vision,” aerial drones that comes mounted with a camera. For Sundance swag, it’s the perfect sweet spot of cool gadget and indie filmmaking.

Where: Kari Feinstein’s Style Lounge, 580 Main Street.

*New Add* SoulCycle
Finally, fitness comes to Sundance.

I’ve been whining about the huge arbitrage opportunity for an elite fitness brand to get in the mix with their core audience visiting from southern California and New York.  The loud and sweaty cyclists answered. Classes by reservation only at 8:30 a.m, 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and apres-ski 4 p.m.

Brandlink Communications handles the RSVP’S.

Coolest: Learn to Snowboard

Oakley Learn To Ride In Collaboration With New Era - Day 2 - 2013 Park City

Alessandra Ambrosio and Oakley pro riders test driving the natural terrain.

Oakley returns to teach you how to ride. When it’s not about movies, Park City is about skiing. They even have a plan that lets you ski free the day you arrive. Oakley smartly continues to occupy the mountain space, offering up lessons and rides with pros in their “Learn to Ride” program, plus there’s a lot of gear to take home as a souvenir even if you end up taste-testing snow cones all day.

Fingerprint Communications is accepting client submissions.

Coolest: Glamping Trips to Yellowstone, Moab, and Montana
At the Eco Hideaway gifting suite, Under Canvas is gifting the great outdoors. It doesn’t come with airfare to get there, but the same space is also gifting spa treatments at the Stein Eriksen lodge and has 40 music performances scheduled for their seismic audio stage.

Where: Top floor of the Claim Jumper building from Saturday-Monday.

Open to Non-Celebrities: Trip to Miami Beach (with flights)
Unlike all the celeb offered trips, this one comes with air and is open to anyone … who wins the photo booth contest at the “It’s So Miami” Lounge.

Where: Brandlink Communications handles the RSVPs for the lounge on the main floor of the Claim Jumper, running Friday, Janary 17-Sunday, January 19.

Essentials: Phones and Parkas
Motorola is giving VIPs a chance to customize a Moto X phone in wood or otherwise, as part of their activation at the PCL Lounge. It’s part of their daytime programming that includes a new animated film they created for mobile from Pixar and Disney creators that lets you control the film, from within the film somehow, using the mobile.

For all the freezing walks and waits outside crowded doors, the Talent Resources lounge is gifting parkas from Sean John.


*Top Table* Udi’s Gluten Free Table
501 Main St, Friday, January 17 – Sunday, January 19, 10:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Udi's Gluten Free Cafe - Day 1 - 2013 Park City

The scene at the inaugural Udi’s.

Gourmet gluten free breakfast, lunch or early dinner. This was crammed with influencer types last Sundance and should fill the spot for “free sit-down meals” that people used to love about the lift. DomainMSA is handling RSVPs.

*Top Table* Chefdance
427 Main St., Friday, January 17 – Wednesday, January 22

All but two of this year’s Chefs are tied to Bravo’s “Top Chef.” They go longer than most all other activations, stretching in to day 7 of the festival. Lots of booze here too.

Whole Foods in a Gifting Suite
All the health without any of the annoying parking lot. Hot and cold organic snacks at the Eco Hideaway Park City (top floor of the Claim Jumper building, Saturday-Monday).

690 Park Avenue


This is not an event, a party, or hosted. It’s real life. Remember that?  It’s a block off Main street but a world away from the scene. Come here, take off your scarf, see nobody, and chow down on awesome pizza  — without judgment.

Cast Party Clubhouses

*New Add* Verge
Saturday, January 18 at Wireimage Portrait Studio at Village at the Lift

There’s being “on the list,” and then there’s being on this list.

Jeff Vespa, the Wireimage founder and a celebrity in his own right, introduces the seven faces he expects to be shooting at top tier events soon as they have big breakouts. Last year, Vespa tapped Jonathan Groff, who’s on HBO’s “Looking,” which had a huge premiere on the Paramount Lot Wednesday night. Groff was also in “Frozen.” Trust the list. #Verge

Supper Suite by STK at the Sky Lodge
Saturday, January 18 and Sunday, January 18

Cast dinner parties, the Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Awards, and dinners with Emile Hirsch, Josh Gad, Elijah Wood, Elisabeth Moss, Ted Danson, Rainn Wilson, and producer Randall Emmett. Curation by A-list Communications.

Grey Goose Blue Door
Their list for film parties includes Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Selena Gomez, Ryan Reynolds, Anthony Kiedis, Peter Dinklage, William H. Macy, and Selena Gomez over the opening days.  They usually double or triple book each night with cast parties and it gets jammed.

Megaplexes  — All Of the Above

*NEW* Eddie Bauer Adventure House 
Friday, January 17 – Sunday, January 19, Claim Jumper at 573 Main Street

Claim Jumper Space

The soon-to-be Eddie Bauer Adventure House.

Eddie Bauer is hosting adventures that are more fun than the adventure of coming up with a way to get out of a conversation about a bad movie. They’re bringing the only woman to summit Mt. Everest five times to give rock climbing lessons, Melissa Arnot, who also led a delegation from Hollywood to Mt. Kilamanjaro as part of the clean water “Summit on the Summit” climb.  Freestyle and big mountain skier Lynsey Dyer is also letting select VIPS tag along with her for Deer Valley runs.

Food, drinks, tons of DJs from west and east coast event scene, and a three story space that’s always a hive. It should be a social anchor on the hill in all dayparts.

Village at the Lift
Base of Main Street, Friday-Monday


The Stella Artois Cafe at Village at the Lift.

The days of a giant Fred Segal boutique embroidered with Guitar Hero video game systems and free boot and sneaker blowouts on every level like a Black Friday blowout are long gone.

This year, it will be a mostly food and beverage hospitality site with a few media companies calling it homebase. Stella Artois’ lounge on street level is the main soiree space, a McDonalds McCafe activation pops up in a tent, and TAO anchors the complex in the basement late at night and in to the morning. Media outlets such as the L.A. Times and Wireimage are setting up shop there.

CNN Films, which has been making a splash on-air with documentaries like Sundance 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” is moving in to the sushi restaurant space inside. They are actually using the space for live broadcasts and news production across their suite of networks, removing one of the additional cast party spaces of years past.

The crowd favorite café serving breakfast and lunch is back. The guys from L.A. foodie spot Animal return for a second year to shepherd, but I suspect you will be able to get regular toast and eggs, not just the “chicken liver toast” and “pig ear with fried egg” from the Fairfax menu back home. What you can’t get is repeat service – guests will be invited once during the run of the activation.

Follow @SundanceParties on twitter/instagram for real-time sightings and send updates and invitations here.