Despite the hubbub over the upcoming royal wedding, there was nary a mention of the impending nuptials at BBC America’s upfront party at Roseland Ballroom in New York Wednesday night. The Beeb’s U.S. outpost instead sent attendees back to the age of disco with their Studio 54 themed shindig, complete with disco balls, entertainers on roller skates and a band playing hits by the Bee Gees and Earth, Wind and Fire.
The party was light on actual upfront news, with remarks from BBCA President Herb Scannell and EVP of Media Sales Mark Gall clocking in under the five-minute mark. Scannell explained to the audience, in a hoarse voice as he talked over the noisy room, that they chose the theme because Studio 54 was all about access, and you had to be in the know to get in. “We like to think that the BBC audience is like that,” he said. And besides that, “it’s a freaking good theme for a party,” he added.
Gall promised there would be no sales pitches that night, sharing only three “fun facts” about the network: That in March its ratings were up 104% in primetime, that its audience has the highest income and education of cable networks, and that its “first in influence,” touting that its fan sites for series Dr. Who and Top Gear are the biggest on Facebook, with more fans than those of American Idol or Modern Family.
Throughout the night, partygoers were entertained by aerial artists and contortionists, served drinks by shirtless men in boxer briefs, and noshed on cuisine from various themed stations like an Asian fusion buffet, macaroni bar, and American diner with sliders and French fries. Guests also donned colored wigs and feather boas at a video booth and took home a flipbook of their wacky poses as a souvenir of the night.
I left the Roseland around 11:30 p.m., but in true Studio 54 fashion, the party was still raging on.