The decorations were modest and hors d'oeuvres resembled comfort food, but award winners still boozed it up in style at Island Def Jam Music Group chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid's Grammy after-party, despite big no-shows Rihanna, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Other parties around town following Sunday night's 51st annual Grammy Awards also held to recession-conscious standards, from a conspicuous lack of blingy decor to pared down eats and attire. Forget the days of Sony BMG's annual lavish Beverly Hills Hotel soiree, canceled this time around because of the economy.
At Reid's bash at Wolfgang's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills, first-time Grammy winner Duffy sat atop a simple beige sofa and sipped red wine and beamed while LCD screens around the room showed footage from the awards ceremony of her singing with Al Green.
"I feel fantastic," said Duffy, grinning about her win for best pop vocal album. "I wish I could bring the trophy with me. ... And I want to change out of this dress. I'm starving."
Guests feasted on meatballs, grilled cheese sandwich triangles and tuna tartare on slivers of toast, and downed martinis and bottles of Stella Artois while a DJ spun '80s R&B and hip-hop hits.
Only a select number of VIPs, including Duffy, fellow Grammy winner Estelle and actor Ryan Phillippe, had seats at the dinner in the back of the restaurant, which was protected from the rest of the party by beefy security guards and red velvet rope. White roses in glass vases decorated the tables.
Grammy nominee and Def Jam artist Rihanna had been a highly touted invitee to the dinner. But she was absent, as she had been at the awards ceremony itself, where she was scheduled to perform.
Her 19-year-old boyfriend, fellow nominee Chris Brown, skipped the ceremony and party, too. Los Angeles police said Brown turned himself in to authorities late Sunday and had been booked for investigation of making a criminal threat against an unidentified woman.
The lingering effect of that drama was palpable at Reid's party.
Beyonce and her rapper hubby, Jay-Z, who snagged a trophy with T.I. for "Swagga Like Us," featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne, were confirmed for seats at the dinner, but never showed up.
West popped into the party with his posse around 9:20 p.m., but stayed only 10 minutes. He pushed away a reporter inside the bash who asked him about Rihanna and Brown.
Def Jam executives and other artists milling around were also tightlipped about the couple and refused to comment.
Nearby, at Universal Motown Republic Group's lively shindig at the Whiskey Blue bar at the W Los Angeles hotel in Westwood, the label's big winner Lil Wayne was a no-show, but Busta Rhymes turned up the heat.
Geometric wooden chandeliers hung above partiers sipping on mixed drinks, while an adjacent room displayed low-slung curtained beds with crimson and light brown pillows.
"Congratulations to Lil Wayne. He brought home four Grammys tonight!" yelled Rhymes into a microphone before launching into a furious rap over thumping hip-hop beats.
Rhymes looked nothing like his former wild-haired, wild-clothed self, instead sporting a shaved head and a black, slick suit. Still, his energy was infectious, as he directed the crowd to wave their arms in the air and shout along.
"From my mouth to God's ears, we have to respect their space," said Rhymes later on when asked about Brown and Rihanna. "We should say our prayers for them."
Across town, at the earlier official Grammy after-party at the Los Angeles Convention Center held by the Recording Academy, Queen Latifah and others were greeted by hippies in striped bellbottoms and Afro wigs welcoming guests to the 1960s-themed post-show bash.
Dancers juggled and twirled fire while the Time laid down a retro groove. Revelers nibbled on lamb chops, salmon, lobster and short ribs at tables decorated with sunflowers and daisies. Trees dripped with lights.