Fame over frats: students experience the weekend’s exclusive Maxim party

Maxim’s annual Super Bowl party proves delightful for young attendees. The more seasoned crowd? Not so much.

Attendees of the 2018 Maxim Party socialize on Saturday, Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII. Tickets to the exclusive party started at $750 and featured special performances by Post Malone and DJ Marshmello.

Max Ostenso

Attendees of the 2018 Maxim Party socialize on Saturday, Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII. Tickets to the exclusive party started at $750 and featured special performances by Post Malone and DJ Marshmello.

Sophie Vilensky

As a 20 year old, I don’t have any first-hand experience with Saturday night’s 21+ Maxim Super Bowl Party. But I heard it was insane.

That’s the word Lana Truong and Elizabeth West used to describe the event, anyway.

And I suppose the word is fitting for a certain audience. No students ever describe a night on frat row as “insane,” do they? Instead of a freshman pledge and a Spotify Premium account, the event featured entertainment by Marshmello, Post Malone, Migos and Cardi B. Free-flowing “premium” liquor probably beats crushed water bottles filled with on-sale flavored vodka.

Truong and West, both sophomores at the University of Minnesota and majoring in management of information systems and marketing, respectively, decided to work the event after their sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, was contacted by a representative of the party’s sponsor, Karma International.

“It was total luck,” Truong said. “I run my sorority’s Instagram page and a woman messaged asking if there were a couple girls interested in working the Maxim party.”

About 20 Gamma Phis worked the event. They were paid above minimum wage and offered wristbands that let them enter and enjoy the party during downtime.

Told to wear “black cocktail attire,” Truong and West worked as VIP and celebrity escorts — a pretty good gig, as these celebrities and VIPs were one of the event’s main attractions. 

On its website, Maxim billed the party as the weekend’s “most anticipated.” Ticket holders were told to “expect A-List Celebrities, VIPs, tastemakers and athletes in attendance.”

Tickets began at $750 for general admission, and tables ranged from $8,500 to upward of $20,000. Not rich but a little famous? Maxim also offered sponsored tickets to “qualifying beautiful and stylish people.” You just had to fill out an application.

And while many of Minneapolis’ Insta-famous were accepted, some were also willing to pay.

“There was one party – I don’t know who they were – but they wanted a table and didn’t have it reserved,” West said. “They offered to pay $100,000. That’s like my college tuition.”

To enter the ticket purchasing system, guests had to have a special invitation code. The code was available in the event’s Facebook page, prompting questions as to what “exclusivity” really means.

And just as attendees varied from college students to middle aged men, online narratives provide differing perspectives of the night’s events.

On Instagram, people (a number of them University students) stand grinning with friends. Most of the shots aren’t taken on the red carpet, as it was reserved only for celebrities and VIPs.

Twitter features a number of sponsored advertisements, as well as news outlets’ red carpet shots. (Best dressed? The Bachelor’s Olivia Caridi.)

Then there’s Facebook, where model Molly Rennick writes of lost coats, groping and misrepresentation.

“Karma has been slowly making parties worse and worse each time I go,” reads one of the post comments. Maxim is reportedly deleting reports of wrongdoing from its Facebook page.

But for college students used to apartment parties and gripping coats they can’t risk to give up, the night was something special.

“It can’t even compare [to parties at school],” West said. “The lighting was so cool, the dresses were beautiful. And obviously the music was insane.”

“There were lots of people close together and an open bar,” Truong said. “It was like the adult version of a frat party.”

Except Post Malone was live.