By Alesandra Dubin Posted November 5, 2008, 9:56 AM EST
LOS ANGELES A huge, heavily democratic city, a free public party, and a resounding Obama-Biden victory on election night. Those elements combined to create the electric celebration last night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, hosted by the California Democratic Party, Obama for America California, and Generation Obama L.A. The total capacity for the public spaces in the hotel is 7,000, but the crowd far exceeded that count—more than 17,000 people had RSVPed online by 6 p.m. Tuesday—filling every available space like a flow of celebratory champagne. Doors opened at 8:01 p.m.—one minute after polls closed—and reached capacity almost immediately while the fire department turned away thousands outside.
Dwayne Hall and Annie and Chuck Winner were among the hosts, joining a deep roster of cohosts including Senator Barbara Boxer, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, Peter Fonda, and Sarah Silverman. Z Trip, KCRW's Jason Bentley, and Shepard Fairey were on hand as DJs. Myriad projection TVs and plasma screens showed election coverage and the Secretary of State's Web site, which announced running tallies of California initiatives, like the much-contested Proposition 8.
Generation Obama L.A.'s Bim Ayandele and Boon Saleem, along with the California Democratic Party's Kathy Bowler and state director Mitchell Schwartz of California for Obama, were among the executive producers on a huge committee overseeing the event. Robert Egan of RHEgan Productions volunteered his services as the production director.
Why take the huge crowd into West L.A.'s Century City neighborhood?
“It's hard in Los Angeles to figure out where you want to do something, because there is no real central location, but the [Hyatt] has great parking, the police department can do what they want to do with the roads, and it's safe,” said Ayandele. “They've got a giant ballroom, overflow room, a whole bunch of breakout rooms for V.I.P.s. Because [crowds for Obama are] a different beast—people plan for 20,000 and 100,000 show up—we tried to plan for all contingencies for attendance. This time we put together an event that appealed to a broad spectrum of demographics.”
Although the event was open to the public, there were not intensive security screenings, in part because the president-elect himself was states away, claiming victory in Chicago's Grant Park.
The biggest challenge for producer Egan was streamlined cash flow. “The budget was really limited,” he said. ”There are a whole bunch of laws and regulations about how money funnels, and to be quite honest with you, the campaign has bigger fish to fry than the election night party. The challenge was to do a giant first-class production with very little money, but a lot of us did it because of our dedication to Obama.”