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New York has been called the Empire City, and real estate firm the Corcoran Group is usually associated with high-end property in Manhattan. But for its annual post-holidays holiday party, the firm immersed itself in another empire: that of Rome. Jason Riggs, director of special events at Corcoran, hired Bryan Jacobson of Corporate Events Manhattan to recreate the Roman Empire inside Cipriani Wall Street for the 900-person affair.
A white cloth-draped structure with handwritten wording that read “Temple of Apollo” and “Il Vulcano” represented Pompeii, and dominated the center of the room at the beginning of the evening. Guests, many dressed in togas and head wreaths, grazed on buffets of antipasti, pasta, risotto, and filet of beef tagliata, and downed drinks from any of four bars.
At 8:30 PM, actors dressed as Roman guards entered the room led by Pamela Liebman, Corcoran's president and C.E.O. She announced to the assembled employees that she was disappointed with Pompeii. “We are a real estate company,“ she declared. Turning to the guards, she said: “I command you to build Rome in a day.” The skit was meant to underscore the fast-paced nature of the real estate business, so the guards got to work unveiling Rome, which, for the purpose of this event, consisted of a wiry, gazebolike structure and Roman busts revealed from behind canvas coverings.
Liebman then commanded everyone to “have the best time ever,” at which point New Kids on the Block’s “Hangin’ Tough” blared through the room. An intentional goof, the music stopped as soon as Liebman declared that the song did not belong at the party, and she needed the emperor to bring out a new DJ. Soon the emperor emerged (another actor), followed by a troupe of dancers, as the DJ switched the soundtrack to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” Then dancers dressed in Roman garb performed onstage, and the guards handed out red feather fans to the Corcoran employees.
“We focused on the element of surprise,“ Jacobson said. “Guests should not know all and see all at the beginning of an event.”
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