As the shuttle buses pulled up to the Democratic National Convention Media Welcome Party, media folks and invited guest grumbled, put their heads down and sprinted into North Carolina Music Factory in the middle of a downpour.
Once inside the vast complex, the open bars, tables of Southern food and live music acts comforted the soggy.
Guests bounced from venue to venue, listening to bands that were playing nearly every kind of music from jazz and blues standards to 1970s dance music and modern radio hits. The guests noshed on sweet potato biscuits with ham, fried mac and cheese sticks, crab cakes and quail with spicy collard greens.
Partygoers moved to Lady Gaga and Adele covers as bartenders poured them drinks, while balanced precariously on platforms set atop of a flowing fountain. The drinks of the night were the colorful frozen Wet Willies and the dangerous-looking red concoction, "Call a Cab," which was strangely popular with the ladies. Several lads took advantage of the final days of summer to don their seersucker pants and white bucks — sans socks, naturally.
A beaming DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) posed for pictures and greeted attendees. She happily dodged the striped DNC beach balls bounced around by the dancing crowd.
Code Pink protestors handed out "I (Heart) 99%" stickers. The band launched into a cover of "War, What Is It Good For" and everyone sang along.
During a break in the music, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx took the stage. After thanking the sponsors, he referenced Clint Eastwood's notorious speech in Tampa.
"If I had an empty chair here ..." he began, and the crowd roared.
Foxx predicted that in a week, convention-goers would be talking about how lovely Charlotte is and all the Southern hospitality they had experienced. Indeed, cheerful volunteers were in no short supply, holding umbrellas over the guests and happily pointing patrons toward the best parties.
"After this, who would vote Republican?" one partygoer said as he stuffed his free tote bag with candy from the Time Warner Cable Candy Bar.