Not so on Monday evening, when Madonna celebrated the official premiere of her film "W.E." with an after party in both rooms. She started out at a banquette on the Boom Boom side, alongside a slew of famous faces -- Ewan McGregor, Helena Christensen, Patti Smith, Julia Stiles, Andre Balazs -- but then decamped to Le Bain for a VIP party-within-a-VIP party.
Of course, where Madonna goes, so goes the action, and the soiree's center of gravity quickly shifted to Le Bain, as partygoers clamored to gain access. But the Material Girl was inside celebrating with a close circle of backup dancers, employees and personal friends -- and wanted a chance to let loose in private. The pop icon ditched an elaborate Marchesa gown for a camisole, pants and a jacket tied around her waist and grooved on the small dance floor of glowing cubes. Surrounded by her youthful dancers of assorted ethnicities, and a sizable disco ball spinning slowly above her head, she looked remarkably free, happy and almost ordinary, for one of the most celebrated icons of our age. The passage of time has done little to outwardly diminish Madonna's famously toned body, nor has it diminished her fondness for dancing, apparently.
The "W.E." celebration doubled as an assistant's birthday party, and a cake with sparklers was brought out. Madonna grabbed a microphone from the DJ and gave a heartfelt speech thanking the assistant -- recalling a scene in the documentary "Truth or Dare," although no poetry was involved -- and led the small crowd in singing "Happy Birthday." A volunteer emerged to apply a birthday spanking, with Madonna enthusiastically counting the spanks.
Some celebrity friends materialized in the room. Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir, who co-hosted the premiere and after party with Forevermark diamonds, played traffic cop at the door, ushering in Madonna pals like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Andy Cohen, Ingrid Sischy and Sandy Brant, who clustered around Madonna like moons in orbit. The hip-hop musician Eve sat contentedly on a corner sofa taking in the scene.
Madonna may have her signature imperious moments, as in her recent outbursts against hydrangeas and Lady Gaga's supposedly reductive "Born This Way." But her appreciation and affection for the people who work for her -- and help keep her star burning incandescently, as Harvey Weinstein termed it earlier in the evening -- seems genuine and plain.
At the Ziegfeld earlier that night, she teared up while thanking the three film editors who helped craft "W.E." into the elegiac tale it is. "If we had to go to war, I would want you guys in my foxhole," she declared. "You went way beyond what you had to do for me. That's what family is all about, and that's what creativity is all about -- surrounding yourself with a group of people who aren't looking at the clock and aren't punching a time card. They are worrying about the project and the final product. They are worrying about the creation." She also sang the praises of her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, the only publicist she's had over the course of her entire career, which must be an industry record of some sort. "Can you imagine? Can you imagine? Can you imagine?" she noted, to laughter. "What she's had to put up with. What she's had to listen to. From the very beginning, when we smoked a joint together 27 years ago in your office," adding, "She doesn't smoke any more."
Smoking or not, Madonna was still steaming along as the clock struck one in the morning at Le Bain.