I was a recent high school graduate in the south of France, absorbing every ounce of Cannes Film Festival, but getting damn tired of waiting in hour-long lines for movies. After being turned away from a ten o’clock documentary screening, I began moping about the city, alone and jet lagged. I thought a gelato would cheer me up. But there was no gelato to be found. Just empty streets. But amongst the trash, a bright, red flier caught my eye. A flier for a party. It read: “Kanye West’s Premier Party for CRUEL SUMMER”. Holy shit, a Kanye party, featuring every artist on his label, GOOD!?
Nearby casino bouncers pointed me towards Gotha Club in Palm Beach, all insisting that it was just a 15-minute walk. Bullshit. I walked for about 40 minutes, running for part of it; scared I might miss the whole party. After a dark walk along the beach, I was there. I held up my flier to three big-ass bouncers and pretended like I knew what I was doing. They hesitated and started to stop me, but seemed to be in a very serious French convo, and let me slip through. Time to party. But where was everybody? There was just one old dude standing inside, and a lot of busy club hostesses. Was it over?I walked towards the old dude, who had a camera around his neck. As it turned out, he was from a French TV station and was planning to wait a few more hours until the party started. Hours? Damn. The flier at least could have said the starting time, maybe then I could have napped, or found gelato. Instead, I sat and patiently waited for about two hours until people started filling up the dance floor.Enter douchey guys dressed in really expensive French brand labels that I can’t pronounce, with trashy women on their arms. Bottle service left and right. But I wasn’t there to make friends or get drunk, I just wanted to see Kanye, so I patiently took my place by the stage.Beside me were a couple of tipsy teenagers who luckily spoke English. We began to talk about Cannes, their favourite liquors, the women around us, and how the hell we ended up there, as the youngest people in the club. They only got in because their father, a well-to-do man-around-Cannes, knew the owner. They asked how I got in and I held up my red flier. They jumped back and laughed, informing me that it wasn't a flier, but an actual invitation, which for some reason was just lying on the sidewalk.
The next thing I knew, the lights began to dim. Big Sean came on stage, to his hit song “Dance (Ass)”. As one of the only other English speakers there, I joined in, shouting “ASS, ASS, ASS, ASS.” It felt good. Then more guys came on – Teyana Taylor, Pusha-T, Kid Cudi. I turned to my right, to see Big Sean’s fist, holding a half-full (not half-empty) bottle of Cristal; an oh so sweet liquid I could never afford to taste as a broke high schooler. So I took it, had a swig and passed it behind me, then turned back around to see Teyana Taylor holding another glass. So I took that, too.Bottle service was abundant, even for those who didn’t order it. Club workers carried cases of Cristal to the stage, a total of 15 bottles. That was my chance. I pushed myself up a little, so my belly balanced the rest of my body on the stage, and reached for a bottle, with a flaming sparkler attached to the top. I was holding a bottle of Cristal, which I wouldn’t even be able to legally purchase back in the States, much less afford. So I did what I had to do. I loosened my belt, and simply slipped my bottle behind the waist of my Levis. And there it sat for the rest of the night, patiently waiting for a more opportune time to be opened, when I wouldn’t be harassed by everyone that surrounded me.I had my Cristal, but not my full experience. But then the lights went off and Kanye came on. People went crazy as the bass dropped in the dark, which just allowed me to complete my next mission: getting to VIP. I hopped over the velvet rope, in complete darkness, DSLR camera in hand. From there, I started my ascent to the top of the VIP lounge's three, increasingly exclusive and expensive levels. People actually believed I was a legit photographer and asked for me to take their picture.I did what I was told, which allowed me to get to the second level. I held my camera up to the bouncer, enough proof to him that I deserved to be there. However, this little trick didn’t work for the third level. The Security guy shoved me back as I tried to walk past him. Whatever, Mr. Bossy, I’ll just walk across the stage instead. This stage-side area was much more congested, with beautiful people, and had less security. So I climbed the stairs to the top level of VIP. I had made it. But where was Kanye?All the performers had disappeared, leaving only self-absorbed, French club rats. What was I doing there? I realised I didn’t belong. I was a lonely, American kid about to enter college, everyone else was there to show how rich they were and get blackout drunk. I couldn’t take the loud music any longer. The sun was rising as I finally left the club. The walk home was long and too tiring, but made worthwhile with a coastal sunrise, a personal bottle of stashed Cristal and a story to tell.