CPAC - The Christmas Party Action Committee

(updated from original post in 2011)

Everything in D.C. is in acronyms.


Some are hideously long, like the OSLGCP (Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness at the Department of Homeland Security) or "Slug Cup" as people say it out.

Some are funny, like one program that my friend worked with in the State Department that sounded like "wedgie" when you said it aloud. She kept fighting laughter in meetings whenever anyone would have to refer to it.

But you can't deny, acronyms are useful. It's easy to string several together and form whole sentences using very few actual words. "Did you get the MOU for CTSI to the S1 regarding EIS yet?" We do it without realizing.

So, when my friends a few years ago started feeling the familiar overwhelming urge to attend every single Christmas reception in D.C., we formed:

CPAC. (Christmas Party Action Committee)

There were four of us in the original CPAC, all in different jobs so we got on different "lists." Then we could trade Party invites like baseball cards. "I've got a Mitt Romney fundraiser if you have a Chamber of Commerce reception!" "American Manufacturing Association for a Newseum party?" "DHS staffer's Ugly Christmas Sweater Party for that Festivus party of that guy you used to date!"

And because D.C. is all about networking and events, there are lists that come out that show when and where different companies or lobbying firm are having their parties. So me and my fellow CPAC member Rebekah have been known to even crash some of those parties just to see if we can. (and also, back in the day, we'd likely crash things just to score free food. Because when you first live in D.C., you don't make enough to pay the crazy rent AND eat. So there are throngs of young adults, likely working for Congressman and powerful officials, surviving solely on free reception food and Ramen noodles. Glamorous, right?)

But it's really amazing what you can get into just by acting like you belong there. Some of these holiday parties are open, but we've definitely attended some that weren't.

Which actually isn't new for Rebekah and I. We both have busy schedules but the thrill of getting into something new is too much for us to ignore. It's a challenge. And always makes for good stories. So even if we are already attending something else, if we see something "roped off" -- it must be ours.
Once, while out with friends on a Saturday night in Adams Morgan, D.C., we heard a house party going on down one of the side streets and decided to see how successful we could be at just crashing it. We ended up finding out the host's name was "John" and effectively bounced around from group to group acting like "oh yeah, JOHN! What a character!" ....until we accidentally met John himself.

Rule number one - don't blow your own cover.

Another time, when me, Rebekah and our friend Shannon happened to be hanging out at the same place a Kickball league was having a year-end party, we notice a bus outside that the league had apparently rented to take them to various places all around the city all night. We acted as though we were on one of the teams and successfully stowed away on the bus all night until we actually became good buddies with the organizers.






We were laughing it up with them at the front of the bus when they finally let us know that they were on to us but that that they enjoyed us so much we could stay.

Rule number two - if your cover is blown, just be super friendly.

Come to think of it, people probably always know we aren't supposed to be there but they humor us anyway because are we so pleased with ourselves for "breaking in" to something.  This past spring in Miami (here), Rebekah and I were with several others in our group of friends at a big dance club in South Beach. And the place was giant and gorgeous and we barely got in because of how popular it was, so we should've just been thankful to be in at all.

But there was a roped off VIP section in the middle of one of the rooms.

So of course, instantly, Rebekah gets that gleam in her eyes and she charges in. And one of the bouncers inside kicks her back out since apparently you need a wrist band to be in there.

Rule number three - find out if there are accessories involved as entry tokens and hide the part of your body on which said accessory should be.

Rebekah returns to me and our other friend. Then she goes in again - this time, stepping over a chair and over the rope.

So I can't resist anymore and I do the same.

And I motion for our other friend, as if I'm some crazy mirage beckoning her like "come oooooon! come jooooooin uuuussss!" as I melt into the "exclusive" crowd inside that roped off area. But our other friend has actual common sense and refused to join. (Some people use logic and restraint. Me and Rebekah, not so much).  And for a second, Rebekah and I are so proud of ourselves, and run around in that area dodging bouncers lest they see our naked wrists. And we realize it's a bacherlorette party and nothing special is actually going on inside that area. People are just dancing and talking like they were in the rest of the club. So we just walk out, realizing that just because something is marked "exclusive" does not necessarily make it any better.

Of course we'll forget that piece of wisdom the next time we see anything roped off.

Thus far in D.C. Christmas Party Season, I have a few things on the calendar including a Scottish Parade (I'm not Scottish), a party for alumni of a local Prep School (I'm not an alumnus), and another Tacky Sweater Party (sadly, without a bounce house though), among others. But someone already sent me a list of of
networking events around the city so we'll see what else Rebekah and I can break into 
attend. I'll let you know.