It's not how you start, but how you finish, and the saying couldn't have been more true for Super Bowl XLIV parties in Miami over the weekend.
Slow to get cranking all week (save for last Wednesday's bottles bash at Cameo), the party scene finally scored touchdowns instead of field goals by Friday and Saturday night. And if a party was being thrown indoors, instead of outdoors at a hotel, you were bound to have a great after-party scene (i.e. Florida Room at Delano and LIV at Fontainebleau).
Here's a look at the hits and misses during Super Bowl week.
Best Pool Party
Paparazzi Pool Party (Fontainebleau)
Hosted by Terrell Owens and Katrina Campins, the soiree on Wednesday afternoon poolside at the Fontainebleau encouraged mingling, dancing, and lots of picture taking (hence the name). Ludacris was there, and DJ Irie kept the crowd in a groove. Plus an NBA player's baby's mamma becomes a YouTube sensation for delivering a poolside dance complete with splits and booty-shaking. Enough said.
Best Hotel Takeover
944 Hotel (Eden Roc)
No other lineup of programming could even come close. Snoop Dogg on night one rapping and wearing a Darth Vader-emblazoned adidas jacket. Common and Drake on night two, including freestyle lyrics by Common with the phrase "shopping at Aventura Mall." Wyclef on night three with impromptu performances by LL Cool J. and Shaggy. Never a dull moment.
Bud Light Hotel (Surfcomber)
Events earlier in the week were lightly attended (unless you were a corporate suit) and only the GQ party on Thursday night featured an open bar for general admission guests (and T-Pain DJ-ing but it felt more like he was playing his iPod). No free drinks when Jamie Foxx and Usher were on the schedule on Saturday night. Unfortunately Usher's impressive show with Foxx was too little, to late to save this takeover.
Best Celebrity Spotting
W Hotel South Beach
It started on Friday with the Audi party at W Hotel Penthouse that featured Hillary Swank, Jessica Alba, Taylor Lautner, Kellan Lutz, Rob Lowe and Lance Bass (ok, we know, we know, but, well, he was there). Not only A-List star power, but drama as well with Swank's ex-brother-in-law, Lowe, in the same room, and Twilight stars Lautner and Lutz avoiding each other.
It continued on Saturday night at the CAA (Creative Artists Agency) party at Wall that featured Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Cameron Diaz, Nick Lachey, Carrie Underwood, Wilmer Valderrama, Timbaland, Kate Walsh and Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
Honorable Mention: Big Give at Michael Bay's House featuring Chris Rock, David Spade, Annalynn McCord, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick and Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) and Mark Sanchez (Jets).
Best Diddy Moment
Wednesday night at Cameo
There were so many from his after-parties at King of Diamonds gentlemen's club that we can't print here, but Wednesday night at Cameo definitely cranked up the weekend. As Diddy hosted he challenged both sides of the VIP areas in Cameo to a bottles war. Bryant McKennie (Vikings) did his part - 33 bottles of champagne purchased. But he was outdone by Braylon Edwards (Jets) and his 51. At one point Diddy cut the music, got on the mic and called out a table that had ordered only one bottle of Dom Perignon. More bottles of his Ciroc vodka arrived soon after.
Best Intimate Performance
Wyclef and Queen Latifah at Florida Room
On Friday night Wyclef Jean took the stage in the lounge space under the Delano. Then Queen Latifah and Robin Thicke joined in for one memorable, hour-long performance.
Best Nightclub Scene
Axe Lounge at LIV (Fontainebleau)
Inside, Will I. Am of the Black Eyed Peas provides an impromptu performance along with rapper Nelly, singer Drake and DJs Jermaine Dupree and DJ Vice. Outside, Eddie George and Julius "Dr. J." Erving hold credit cards wanting to buy a table to get in - and Adrian Peterson (Vikings) and Venus Williams waiting patiently until entering. Champagne bottles being ordered 20 minutes to closing time. And this was just Friday night. Saturday featured a Jennifer Lopez performance with two costume changes. And Sunday night at Diddy's party, Saints Jonathan Vilma and Reggie Bush (along with Kim Kardashian) arrived to celebrate the championship. Several outlets report the nightclub topped the $1 million mark for the weekend.
Best Event You Never Heard About
Super Brunch (Viceroy)
Celeb-chef Mario Batali and Late Night's Jimmy Fallon hosted and treated guests to great food and charming humor at Club 50 in the Viceroy. And all for a good cause. Who knew there was life in Brickell during the Super Bowl?
Honorable Mention: Red Velvet presents Esquire party at Klutch. Complete with tasty sweets and an open bar, a live music performance and plenty of Esquire magazines, this party had a nice underground vibe.
There was plenty of action at Sun Life Stadium on game day in the private suites. Sure Brad and Angelina were spotted, and Fergie was hosting in her suite with fellow part owner Gloria Estefan, but the hottest suite was Bacardi's. During pre-game, Will. I. Am., Taboo and apl.de.ap dropped by. At halftime, David Spade and Jessica Alba bobbed their heads and chatted as they watched The Who. And during the second half Kate Walsh, Kellan Lutz and AnnaLynne McCord stuck around to see the Saints win.
Final Party Rankings
1. ESPN Next (Fontainebleau)
Once you got to the glowing pink tent you were treated to plenty of bars featuring Absolut, cases with Reebok's new ZigTech sneakers, plenty of ESPN on-air talent and pro athletes circulating the room and eventually a spectacular performance by Ne-Yo who sang his most popular tunes. But it was the getting in part that nearly killed the vibe - ESPN security made it feel like you were going through airline security to get to a flight than to get to a party. They should have taken notes from the hotel when it managed 3-times the number of people to the Lady Gaga New Year's Eve show.
2. Maxim (Raleigh Hotel)
The impressive production featured an L.E.D. screen chandelier, X-Box game stations and a black and white checkered dance floor over the entire pool that provided plenty of room to dance and gave the hotel a different feel. Plenty of celebs - (Bow Wow, Nelly, Tom Arnold, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Nick Lachey, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Cowboys coach Wade Phillips) and DJ Jermaine Dupri went old-school and kept the dance floor packed. But Pyrat Rum and Ultimat vodka were the choices at the bar?
Close, but no cigar
The magazine's return to the Super Bowl was more of a swordfight than a bunny ranch, with a high ratio of guys. Worse off, there was no Dom Perrignon in the house, leaving an unnamed NASCAR driver who had planned to drown his sorrows after losing to Danica Patrick earlier in the day in Daytona wanting a refund. However, as promised, the Black Eyed Peas did show up - albeit at 2:15 a.m. - and performed as Will I. Am DJ'd. At least we were treated to mermaids swimming in the pool - nice touch.
Drew Rosenhaus (Hard Rock Live)
Even a $250 ticket didn't even get you open bar. But kudos to the human red carpet with scantily-clad women.
Wyclef Jean performs with surprise guests LL Cool J and Shaggy and some of Haiti's finest at the Eden Roc. Photo by: Tomas Loewy.