Tao Group has pretty much had the Sundance nightlife scene on lock since Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg stretched their marketing arm waaay up to Utah’s celebrity playground, Park City.
For its sweet seventh Sundance programming, the group once again commandeered the underground parking garage at the T-Mobile Village at the Town Lift, Jan. 20-23, to bring us a familiar red-lit, Asian-inspired event space replete with VIP booths and a stage for DJs to reign over the steaming, warmly dressed masses. And this time they brought friends. Tao Group teamed up with T-Mobile and Google Music to kick off each night with intimate live performance pairings, including Vintage Trouble, who also recently played a series of shows at the Cosmopolitan’s Book & Stage.
This mini-Tao looked and felt so much like the real thing, only a look at the heavy Sorel boots and soggy knit hats told the truth. Even the cocktails were in on the gig: Going well beyond the usual suspects of Sundance liquor sponsors (Stella Artois and Patron Silver), Tao’s bars offered the sort of full complement that Las Vegas, New York and L.A. partiers have come to expect: Ultimate vodka, Tanqueray 10, Pyrat rum, Patron Citronage and Crown Royal Black. The crowd properly lubricated, we’re betting more than one indie flick was purchased under the influence. (But judging by some of the films we saw this year, it wouldn’t be the first time something was green-lit during a blackout.)
Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama and Danny Masterson had an informal That 70’s Show Reunion almost nightly at Tao; Masterson and his brother, Malcolm in the Middle’s Chris Masterson, are owners of the nearby Downstairs bar and lounge. Prepon has a supporting role in the Vegas-centric comedy Lay the Favorite, starring Bruce Willis along with a bloated Vince Vaughn and an unrecognizable Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Second only to the film itself for inducing pain is Willis’ pronunciation of Nevada.)
Friday night, Tao Group resident DJ Vice spun for celebrities including Christina Hendricks and husband Geoffrey Arend, Mary J. Blige, Anne Heche, Mario Lopez, Jesse Williams, Quincy Jones, Asher Roth, Tinsley Mortimer and Paris Hilton with boyfriend DJ Afrojack. Saturday night, Tao welcomed Robin Thicke, LMFAO’s Redfoo, A-Trak, Rob Mayes, Stephanie Pratt and Hilton, who bolted to her table just as Marquee resident DJ Kaskade took over. Sunday, Tao played host to Spike Lee’s after-party for his film Red Hook Summer along with Chris Rock, Common, Cuba Gooding Jr., Drake, James Marsden, Jesse Williams, Nick Lachey and—you guessed it—Paris Hilton, who danced like a loon in a fuzzy panda hat.
Monday night, Chateau Nightclub & Gardens resident Samantha Ronson spun Monday for Kirsten Dunst and boyfriend Garrett Hedlund, Rashida Jones, Anthony Mackie, Anthony Anderson, Harvey Weinstein, Hayes McArthur and Jamie Chung. Guess Paris had other plans.
Two can play at this game
There’s always room in the après ski hot tub for one more hottie. Hence, newcomer Hyde Bellagio took a spin up in the mountains via parent company SBE’s Downstairs takeover, Hyde Lounge at Sundance. The Mastersons’ subterranean nightclub was sponsored by Oakley and Moët Hennessy, hosting parties Jan. 20-22 that featured DJ sets by the brothers performing under their monikers of DJ Mom Jeans (Danny) and Chris Kennedy along with guest DJs Jordy Masterson (yes, another brother), Adam 12, Cisco Adler and Lil Jon, whom we’re fairly certain is not a Masterson, though considering how often he spins at Downstairs, who knows?
The Oakley Learn to Ride after-party also featured live performances by musicians Kate Voegele and Skylar Grey, who played for a too-cool crowd that included Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, NFL player Shaun Phillips, Ryan Kwanten, singer Blu Cantrell, Jason Ritter and a nearly incognito Michael Cera, who should win an Oscar for his performance as “creepy guy who hangs out in the shadows of Utah nightclubs.”