NEW YORK — The Pennsylvania Society couldn’t sound more intimidating. That’s what happens when the word society is literally in your event’s name.
It doesn’t help that when you’re up here, the first sights you see upon reaching the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria are golden elevator doors and a massive bronze grandfather clock. Plus, one out of every six people milling about is wearing a suit that probably cost more than six months of your rent.
This is why in most articles about the Pennsylvania Society you see words like “gilded” and “soiree.” But here’s the thing: Pennsylvania Society, when you’re actually up here, is not all that intimidating. The “invitation only” warning attached to most of these “gilded soirees” is really more of a suggestion. To soak up the fun and the connections of Pennsylvania Society, all you have to do is get in, and in most cases it’s not too difficult or even frowned upon.
For anyone wanting to reduce some of Pennsylvania Society’s stuffiness, here’s a guide to getting in.
Pick the right event or three
PoliticsPA publishes a thorough listing of events every year. Use the guide to narrow it down to two or three events. Any more and you’ll be exhausted. Plus, as you’ll see below, many of these events are boring.
Popular events tend to be the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reception, the dessert reception on Friday night, and the Governor Mifflin Society reception. Basically everything on Friday evening.
Nighttime is better than daytime
As soon as the sun sets at 4:30 (or whatever ungodly early hour it gets dark in Manhattan), the movers and shakers switch from sipping the Bloody Marys they’ve been using to cure their hangovers in the morning and early afternoon to double-fisting gin and tonics. Post-happy hour, nobody’s going to care (or have the capacity) to notice the people who don’t technically belong.
The daytime events usually aren’t the best ones anyway. They are networking breakfasts and lunches that sometimes feature speakers. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to sneak in. The people with invitations have second thoughts about going.
The importance of venue
If it’s in a suite during the day, it’s probably not worth trying. Too small of an area and too much daylight. The events at restaurants or on entire floors of a hotel are better bets.
Beware of clubs. The Christine J. Torretti event on Thursday night at Club Macanudo was supposed to be impossible to crack. Centre County Senator Jake Corman is hosting at the 40/40 Club (?!) this afternoon and it could be similarly difficult.
At the venue, look for the check-in table early
The “invitation only” events aren’t lacking in security completely. Usually there’s a check-in table. The location of the check-in table is key.
Take Thursday night’s rager for Congressman Pat Meehan, for example. A table was set up in the corner for invited guests to sign in. Key phrase: in the corner. The party was happening all around the table, and even the place to hang coats was nowhere near the check-in table. There was no sensible reason to go into the corner and sign in, even for invited guests. One of the easiest sneak-ins possible.
Get your wardrobe in order
Another way Pennsylvania Society isn’t as ritzy as it’s hopped up to be: Not everybody is wearing their finest clothes. Former Governor Ed Rendell had tennis shoes on last year. But he is invited everywhere. You are not.
To get in anywhere, you must look good. Think a suit, cocktail or formal dress, etc.
If in doubt, do whatever Lieutenant Gov. Mike Stack would do.
Know your red/blue audience
Some of the Pennsylvania Society events are bipartisan, but many of them also lean Republican or Democrat. At Republican events, a red tie goes a long way (sooooo many Republican men wear red ties).
But this goes deeper than color choice. Inside these events, you’ll want to drink like a Republican or a Democrat. If you’re surrounded by liberals, drink the craftiest craft beer available — and not a Goose Island. The brand is lame and played out and owned by an evil corporation.
With the conservatives, stick to the basics. Drink one of the big three beers — Coors, Bud, Miller — or brown liquor. Thursday night at Meehan’s party, Brooklyn Lager was one of the beer choices. There’s no way anybody should’ve been ordering that.