Ne-Yo and Compound Entertainment's 6th annual Midnight Brunch got an extra shot of star power in the form of Will Smith this year. The 45-year-old actor, set to team with Ne-Yo on a new HBO project, was among the names inside Hollywood's Lure nightclub for the annual pre-Grammy brunch Saturday (Jan. 25) night.
Sponsored by Malibu Red, other attendees included Paris Hilton, Adrienne Bailon, Akon, Mack Wilds, Salaam Remi, Bizzy Crook, Cammi B., Ash Angel and Alyxx Neon of LiV, Nassessa Williams, director Chris Robinson, and Nathan Morris of Boyz II Men. The night's music playlist came courtesy of DJ Cassidy.
Over the last six years, Ne-Yo's brunch has become one of the more popular parties during Grammy week, and it didn't take long to reach capacity. Before the clock struck midnight the entry line was at a standstill, leaving a crowd of people waiting to work their way inside.
They may not have all made it in, but those who did enjoyed a casual environment, one that Ne-Yo believes keeps people coming back. "It's pretty loose and laid back," he told Billboard.biz. "I feel like this is a place where if Will Smith wanted to get on the dance floor for a second, he could. Those are the kind of parties that I used to go to back in the day, so that's the kind of party I want to throw."
This year's bash was masquerade-themed, with aerial silk dancers in thongs and (one of the night's favored attractions) a two-woman window display teetering on voyeurism. The live girl-on-girl show is further proof that the Midnight Brunch isn't like your average Hollywood party. Here, mingling and feasting are encouraged. "I don't like the whole 'Hollywood, lets sit in our section and let everyone stare at us…' I don't like that," Ne-Yo explained. "That [laid back vibe] is what you feel walking through the door. We have a good time, that's what it's about."
The night was also about food, and plenty of it. The term "brunch" wasn't used lightly here. Waffles, pancakes, and omelets were all on the menu, and guests had no qualms about sticking around for the dining, dancing and drinking. Even after Ne-Yo's rumored performance didn't happen, the crowd didn't completely thin out until close to 2:00 a.m. "It's a prime night," said Atlantic Records West Coast Manager Dwight Willacy. "[The brunch] gets most of the people that aren't at the Clive [Davis pre-Grammy gala] or that come after, so it's always a great event."