I wasn't sure what to expect from a party at something called the Bud Light Hotel. I'd heard they were taking over all of Dallas Aloft Hotel, which had allowed itself to be re-branded for Super Bowl week. (And the Bud Light Hotel party continues all weekend long, with Nelly, Ke$ha and more; see details at the bottom of this post.)
What revelers found was a gargantuan space adjacent to Aloft covered in a 60,000-square-foot white tent -- heated, utility carpet. Inside, they partied, checked out the Bud Light cheerleaders until it was time for the stars of the show: The Fray and Lifehouse.
The unique venue and hard-core winter weather created a blender of couture -- typical glitzy nightclub attire mixed with jeans, winter coats, Timberlands -- and even a Panda ski hat.
Before the crowds started to fill out the space, and before the bands took the stage, some wondered if the party would really heat up.
"It seems sorta tame," said James Faust, artistic director of the Dallas Film Society. "I think the weather's part of it. People are still going out with trepidation."
Jennifer Hinojosa of Dallas was glad for the more laid-back tone of the early part of the night. "I expected a lot worse crowds, and I was expecting it to be a lot less organized," she said. "But they have a coat check! So far so good."
But by the time Lifehouse hit the stage, bodies were packed closer together, and this tent was a-rockin'. As they launched into hits like Halfway Gone and Hanging By a Moment, enamored fans swooned and swayed and sang along: you could see them not just all around you, but writ large on two jumbo projection screens on either side of the stage.
"The energy is off the hook in this city," shouted Lifehouse frontman Jason Wade.
Among my favorite sights of the evening: two young women joining the Lifehouse throng by literally skipping (to the music) into it; a guy in a hot pink dress shirt shimmying wildly to Halfway Gone, and a tattooed dude shaking his booty with abandon.
OK, one more: sisters Kindra and Kellyn Dickinson, both decked out in full Steelers regalia. What did Kindra think of the party? "I think there should be more Steeler fans here," she laughed. "I could be the only Steeler fan at a party and be good."
Kindra is from Ennis, and Kellyn from Waxahachie ... so how do two gals from North Texas become such huge Pittsburgh fans? "My dad brainwashed us as children, is what my mom says."
Sad to report I didn't get to stay to see The Fray take the stage. But according to Jennifer Hinojosa, the bands weren't necessarily the point of the party. "It's the kickoff. It's about Dallas and supporting Dallas," she said, stopping herself with a grin. "Even though the Super Bowl's not in Dallas."
The Bud Light Hotel party continues all weekend:
Friday: The Playboy Party featuring Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Flo Rida (invitation only)
Saturday: Bud Light presents concerts by Nelly, Ke$ha and Pitbull (doors open at 8:15 p.m.)
Sunday: Bud Light "Texas Sized Tailgate" featuring Dierks Bentley and Jack Ingram (doors open at 2 p.m.)
Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday are available through various promotions including DFW radio stations 106.1 KISS FM and 100.3 JACK FM. For more information, visit Bud Light Hotel.
BUD LIGHT HOTEL 1033 YOUNG ST DALLAS TX 75202