By Jenny Berg Posted January 4, 2012, 10:00 AM EST
CHICAGO On Saturday evening, the lobby of the Hilton Chicago was teeming with sparkling dresses and glittery paper hats. Bouncers had scattered checkpoints, studiously checking I.D.s and helping funnel 4,000 party-goers into organized lines to pick up their tickets for what was billed as the “Official Playboy New Year's Eve Celebration,” which took over the two main ballrooms.
Unsurprisingly for such a large event—on such a notoriously rowdy night—“the biggest challenge for us was to develop an effective and streamlined process for admission and entry,” said Christian Banach, owner of Global Adrenaline, which produced and managed the event. And what helped lure the crowd? “This year ... we shifted the focus from a big headline entertainer as we did the prior two years, and instead marketed the Playboy elements much harder,” Banach said.
The electronic invite showcased each of the eight Playmates slated to appear at the event. At the hotel, the bunny-tailed models posed with guests for photos and helped deliver bottle service. In the V.I.P. area, Summer Altice, also known as Miss August 2000, spun dance, house, and hip-hop tunes.
Other activities that helped guests pass the time till midnight and then stick around till 2 a.m. included casino gaming, open bars, and performances from hip-hop artist (and Tom Hanks's son) Chet Haze and rapper Baby Bash. Buffets let guests top their own hot dogs or snack on appetizers such as chicken skewers and egg rolls, and confetti explosions erupted in both ballrooms at midnight.
Now in its sixth year at the Hilton, the event will likely help ring in 2013 as well. “As for Playboy's headquarters moving [from Chicago to Los Angeles this year], that will have no impact on whether or not we continue our partnership with Playboy on New Year's Eve,” Banach said.