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Social networking site celebrates its NYC debut with Perez Hilton

And, yes, we were there.

Hey, so, I'm going to tell you about a party for a new social networking site that was hosted by a big-time blogger. But I'm not talking about the Twittering, lifecasting, Flickring kind of scene...think bottle service, trendy rap music, and a guy famous for drawing obscene Microsoft Paint captions on photos of Lindsay Lohan.

Yup, I mean Perez Hilton. Launch Party

On Thursday night, the notorious celebrity gossip blogger descended upon Manhattan to host the launch party for the new nightlife-centered social networking site Held at the subterranean midtown nightclub The Grand (click here for a video clip from, the party was packed thanks to viral online publicity as well as numerous plugs on Hilton's widely-read blog. There was an open champagne bar, a DJ was spinning dance-worthy hip-hop all night, and if (heaven forbid) you happened to get sleepy, there were plenty of Vitamin Energy drinks courtesy of a sponsorship by the caffeinated beverage brand.

Sometimes there's some ambiguity when it comes to over-the-top Manhattan nightlife: it's hard to tell where the celebrity-culture-addicted, see-and-be-seen desperation ends and the self-aware irony and mockery begin. At a party where the celebrity guests include a Paris Hilton impersonator and a former Project Runway contestant, the motivation for the guests to show up could easily have been either. Or, alternately, there's the middle ground: free drinks, new people to meet, and the ability to say "Hey, this one time, I partied with that guy..." the next time one of your friends brings up Perez Hilton.

It's tough to discern.

Likewise, I can never tell whether to consider Hilton to be a legitimately annoying and overexposed gadfly or a schlocky cult figure. On one hand, the rotund Hilton, who regularly refers to himself in the third-person with monikers like "Perezzle" and "P-Nasty," showed up sporting bleach-blond hair and a mustache worthy of the Comedy Central cop show Reno 911. But on the other hand, he basked in the flurry of camera flashes at the event's red carpet (yes, there actually was one) and restricted his socializing to the confines of the velvet ropes that delineated the VIP section. If there's any self-deprecating irony left in Hilton's head, the fame has likely blocked its way to his cerebral cortex.

One thing's for sure: I'm fairly certain that the vast majority of the crowd, a gaggle of aspiring male models and minidress-clad girls with blown-out hair and glittery stilettos, had never heard of what the average social media junkie would consider to be the "blogerati." Say the name "Michael Arrington" and they'd probably ask if that's the guy who promotes on Friday Nights at some lounge in the Meatpacking District. Perez Hilton, however, is in his own league.

As for, it's diving into a subgenre of social networking that's already starting to get crowded: online hubs for offline partiers. The big player in this field is Yelp, which recently added an events feature to its site full of restaurant and bar reviews; has already made a splash in New York as well. Additionally, there are scores of club promoters already using MySpace, Facebook, and e-mail lists to spread the word about which bars will be waiving the cover charges to anyone who drops the right name to the bouncer.

But the most notable hub devoted to urban nightlife culture, Clubplanet, hasn't been particularly up-to-speed on integrating social media features like profiles with friends lists and photo-sharing. PMbuzz, too, appears to come from very well-connected roots. It was founded by a father-and-son team: Fred Epstien, who works in the nightlife-based advertising business; and his son Danny, whom Facebook tells me is a student at Cornell University.

It wasn't my scene. But the club was packed with people for whom this clearly was their scene--men and women alike had clearly invested quite a bit of time into their appearances for such an event. New York nightlife is a big deal, especially for young people who live just outside the city and who are consequently far enough away to not get tired of it the way city residents often do.

And, you know, if being seen's your thing, so be it: to each his (or her) own. Even if that includes bleach-blond hair and a ridiculous 'stache. There's a whole lot of stuff out there on the Web that's much, much stranger.