Grammy View: From the Audience

BEHIND THE SCENES What does a bird's eye view of the drama taking place between commercials and the action waiting in the wings reveal? Not much. The members of Destiny's Child hold hands and pray just before going on — like that's a big surprise; they always thank God when they win. Somebody had to hoist Christina Aguilera's skinny ass up into the rafters before she could make her big entrance in the floating orb. And honestly, without the colorized special effects, 'N Sync's number looked like a high-school production of Our Town.

Audiences at home were also denied the mystery of wondering about those 14 people milling about in magenta Beatle wigs before Macy Gray's song. And TV viewers couldn't see desperate stagehands scooping up garbage bags full of shiny mylar tinsel after Blue Man Group's admittedly thrilling number with Moby and Jill Scott; those poor cameramen down in front — it looked like they'd been caught in a Christmas tree explosion.

AFTER THE SHOW Following all these trials (the less said about the Poseidon Adventure-like vibe as people scrambled to escape the Staples Center, and the interminable wait to exit the parking lot, the better), everyone is eager for some libations and a chance to let their hair down. What awaits guests attending the various after-parties? Well, more lines, for one — unless you arrive by limousine and have a handler to whisk you past the keepers of the guest list.

That said, once inside one of these shindigs, you're closer to some of the biggest music stars than you'll ever get without making a hit record of your own. Within minutes of arriving at the Warner Bros. fête, Wall of Sound's spies were within spitting distance of Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, and members of Depeche Mode and De La Soul. Plus Hugh Hefner and a clutch of bleached-blond Playboy bunnies — or was that just his bid to assemble a prefab girl group?

Most importantly, a feeling of relief augments the air of celebration. Whew, it's over! At the Virgin Records party, members past and present of Hole (no, not her) and Nirvana hobnobbed around the swimming pool at the Hotel Figueroa. A kick-ass DJ cut and mixed more great songs in 15 minutes than were heard in the entire Grammy broadcast. And did someone say "open bar"?

This was exactly the sort of star-studded bacchanalia you expect when you hear the words "Grammy Awards." And it only takes 10 hours, a handful of interminable performances (was Paul Simon dull or what?), traffic, and an attack of hypoglycemia to find it.

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