Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Night Parties

While in college, I never pulled an all nighter. On election night, I did. I spent the night watching the election results come in at two different parties. The first party that I went to was hosted by the American embassy. Everyone in attendance had to have an invitation. All of the fulbrighters were included on the guest list. When we went to sign in, the lady working asked immediately if we were with Fulbright. She was able to tell because we were the only attendees under the age of forty. Everyone else working for the embassy or had close ties to someone at the embassy. Below is a photo taken at the American Embassy party. I made sure to find the California state flag.

The party was pretty low key, so we decided to go to the Democrats abroad party. The majority of people in my program are democrats and we wanted to be able to cheer and express ourselves as the results came in.

Even though I had bought my ticket to the democrats abroad party, I still had to wait in a big line. The problem was that there was not separate lines for those who had already purchased tickets and those who had not. As a result everyone was trying to push their way in at the front door. I was stuck in a massive group of people and for about twenty minutes they stopped letting people in which angered everyone. The group was so tightly packed and everyone was trying to push their way in even though they weren’t letting anyone in. At one point, it felt like it was two or three pushes away from being a stampede. Luckily, I got in soon enough without any injuries.

Once inside, the party was amazing. It was held at the Circulo de las Bellas Artes which is normally used for an exhibition hall but can be rented for private parties. I would estimate that there were close to 1,000 people at the party which took place over four floors with each floor having a bar set up, a large projection screen and one or two plasma flat screen tvs.

Below is a picture of the crowd on the fourth floor. Clearly the building was quite crowded.

The whole night they showed the CNN broadcast which I thought was pretty good but I got sick of watching the commercials. I got to the party around 1 am (7pm eastern) when the first polls were closing. We would all get really excited when any news came in but then there would often be a lag for about thirty minutes before next polls closed.

At the party, I hung out with about 12 other Fulbrighters in a jammed packed room. The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was really excited, energetic, and optimistic. As the results started coming in, we started sharing bottles of champagne. In our group of twelve, we probably went through about 8 bottles of champagne which started to make me feel sick because there was no food at the party and I had not eaten anything since 9 pm. As things started to go Obama’s way, I considered going home but decided this was a once and lifetime opportunity and that I wanted to stay up all night.. Shortly after 4 am, after the mountain states results had come in, it was clear Obama was going to win but I wanted to see them call California and see how they would announce Obama as president. At 5 am, when the west coast polls closed, CNN did not call the individual states, but rather flashed on the tv that they were calling the election for Obama.
Everyone was so excited and happy. People started jumping up and down and cheering. Some started crying and at one point, the room started chanting “si se puede” (yes, we can) which is an Obama slogan but also the Spanish version was also used by Cesear Chavez when campaigning for farmers rights in California.

Below is a picture of us celebrating Obama's victory

After watching McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s acceptance speech, I took the metro home around 6:15 am, slept for one hour, and then went to work. However, I am fine with sacrificing one night of sleep for all the change that is supposed to come.

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