Politicians beleaguered by one crisis after another and .01-percenters battered by global markets need a pick-me-up, and thankfully, the ultimate ego boost is just around the corner: the World Economic Forum, the annual Oscars for world leaders, C.E.O.s, billionaires, and celebrities just socially conscious enough to wrangle an invite, kicks off Wednesday in the Swiss Alps.
Surely, there is enough for the rich and powerful to chew on, as about 1,000 chief executives, 40 world leaders, and Leonardo DiCaprio descend on the tiny village of Davos for a few days. The world economy is on the brink. Interest rates are rising. There is a refugee crisis. The American electorate is cycling through a clown car of candidates gunning to lead the free world in less than a year. Inequality is widening at such a scale that just 62 individuals own as much wealth as the 3.6 billion people in the bottom half of the world’s income stratosphere, according to a new report (presumably, some of the 62 people or their friends will be at the forum).
So the likes of Joe Biden and John Kerry, David Cameron, Benjamin Netanyahu, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, and even newly elected Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will make their way over to Switzerland, as will Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Bono, Kevin Spacey, Yo-Yo Ma, Will.I.Am, and DiCaprio, for days of panels and talks and presentations at which to discuss the greatest issues of the day among the greatest minds and powers and bank-account holders.
Entirely important as those discussions may be, they would be entirely boring and unappealing to the vast majority of the world if not for the rather infamous parties that take place each year in Davos, turning a civilized meeting of the most sought-after minds into Coachella by dark. There are the corporate parties, for which companies like Yahoo and McKinsey reportedly shell out millions of dollars to throw flashy events at sometimes inconveniently located hotels that take hours to get to on the town’s icy roads. Then there are the private dinners, wine parties, and late nights held on side streets, in chalets and penthouses and cigar bars, hidden from the majority of Davos revelers. Finance bigwigs, Russian oligarchs, and Silicon Valley kings alike are reduced to middle schoolers with social anxiety waiting to see if they will get an invitation to the most exclusive of parties, for the the guest lists have been painstakingly pruned.
And for good reason. In years past, Skybridge Capital’s Anthony Scaramucci underwrote a 2011 wine party in which the world’s most expensive and highly rated wines were guzzled down, according to reporter and reveler Felix Salmon, resulting in what was “basically a drunken mess.” Salmon also recalled fetes at which The Killers and Mary J. Blige got the world’s plutocrats to the dance floor.
Hopefully the lights were low. There was the 2013 Sean Parker taxidermy-themed party, for which the Napster founder and Facebook investor’s team spent two days transforming a dull Davos space into one with stuffed animal heads with lasers in their eyes. John Legend played, according to Business Insider’s Henry Blodget, and mixologist-entertainers Liquid Chefs were flown in from London. Last year, a financier’s party got shut down by Swiss police at two A.M. and the D.J. was ordered to shut off the music. Bartenders by that point had gone through all the liquor designated for the night and the supply on reserve for the following night’s soiree.
This year will likely be no different, according to insiders. The corporate parties will rage on, but more excitingly, so will the chalet dinners, the post-dinner cocktail parties, and the major bashes on Friday evening, once the sessions are over, for which some titans fly in women from around the world to entertain the predominantly male attendees. Will Spacey and Biden, drunk, hold hands ice-skating down the Davos streets? Will DiCaprio tap Draghi and Trudeau for his pussy posse? What will Cameron, who we know knows how to have a good time, get up to? Will we ever find out how Will.I.Am scored an invitation? All will be revealed in time.