Jenna and Barbara Bush, the onetime party girls turned proper Republican daughters, partied once again last night at the Roseland Ballroom. Nothing terribly exciting or even mildly embarrassing happened, at least as far as we could tell, but we couldn't tell much as the media wasn't allowed to get close to the First Daughters, much less party with them.
The media mob was penned into a barricade corral on the sidewalk outside the ballroom, and permitted only to take pictures of the ladies as they arrived. We felt like the yapping paparazzi on the red carpet at the Oscars ("Down here, Jenna!" "Move in closer together, girls!"), although there probably aren't as many mysterious puddles at the Oscars as there are on the streets of midtown Manhattan.
The event was called "R: The Party," with R standing for Republican, or maybe Roseland or possibly Restricted. It was never clear. The twins looked pretty and poised as they stood for their photo op. Jenna, the blonde one, had a slightly shaggy hairdo that made her look like a younger, more petite Martha Stewart; Barbara, the darker one, seemed to be enjoying the spotlight a bit less than her sister, which would make her the Nicky Hilton (or to keep the presidential parallel, the Tricia Nixon) of this sister act.
Someone in the press gaggle finally shouted to the twins "Who are you wearing?" just like they do on those red-carpet warm-up shows (life imitates Joan Rivers!). Jenna answered back, but she was so demure and the media jostling was so intense that almost no one could make out what she said (all we can say is it sounded like a name with a lot of vowels and syllables in it). The twins then disappeared into the ballroom. They were followed by a stream of about 25 young friends, all of them so glossy and pretty that they could have been extras in the party scene from "Less Than Zero."
The only celebrities we spotted were boxing promoter Don King, who walked in waving two little American flags (he either had just won an Olympic gold medal, or was worried that no one would notice him), and ubiquitous Republican Bo Derek, whom hardly anyone noticed (undoubtedly a first for her; what, does she need to wave American flags, too?).
Trying to salvage our limited and rapidly fading journalistic self-respect, we asked a tall young man who was walking out of the party what the scene was like inside. The young fellow (who gave his name as B. Reeves) said, "It was like the biggest, sweatiest frat party you've ever been to." This was probably an attempt at a putdown, but having been to a few big, sweaty frat parties before (the last one in . . . let's see here . . . um . . . 1979), we can't really say it's such a bad thing.
In fact, we eventually got a ticket and went inside to check out the scene for ourselves. It was sweaty all right, rather dark and quite crowded with young people. There was no sign of the twins, whom unreliable reports said had repaired to the VIP lounge upstairs. The smell of beer and body odor permeated the place. Onstage, a rock band was playing a tune by the Doobie Brothers. Yep, a lot like 1979.