F1 1: Halloween is the best thing that has happened to Formula One’s Fan Fest in Austin. First, it clearly attracted more locals, who took a break from the more crowded madness of East Sixth Street. This led to costumed mingling and dancing, rather than the exclusive focus on the automotive displays set up in the downtown streets, primarily West Fourth Street. It also loosened up the masses, especially for the swimmingly melodic group DeVotchKa. They could move more freely in the restorative night air and their faces looked less harried, more at home. On the gay stretch of West Fourth, folks dressed — or undressed — to the nines lingered outside the bars. It was gratifying to see streets that, 30 years ago, were dead after sunset, now comfortably filled with people having the times of their lives. Aggressive type: “What are you dressed as?” Pause. Me: “A grown up.”
F1 2: The Better World Awards are something new for Austin. Gregarious Gina De Franco, who grew up in Southern California, cut her public relations teeth in New York City, and now lives in the South of France, invented them to honor people who have done good. For years, it has been based in Monaco, cultural home to Grand Prix racing. This year, Valerie Velazquez, former Miss Latina Texas, teamed up with de Franco to stage a separate ceremony here at the Hotel Ella during the United States Grand Prix. About 200 people mingled around the hotel’s chic pool deck, or up on a balcony near the banquet room. First introduced to the press was Kweku Mandela, grandson of the South African hero and winner of the Next Generation Legacy Award. But the star of the moment was Pamela Anderson, she of “Baywatch,” who received the award for her animal advocacy. Cool and gracious, she looked very ’60s in a sleek white gown and upturned tresses. But the main impression? She’s a tiny little thing. Guess I expected a more Amazonian scale.
F1 3: Later, it will pop. That’s what I kept telling Austinites who gathered after 11 p.m. for My Yacht Club, one of the signature pop-up parties during Formula One weekend. “It will pop.” A few Halloween costumes were stirred into the social brew for this Monaco-based event. No, there’s no boat. Rather, Ballet Austin’s studios were decorated like a Euro nightclub, graced with a terrific DJ who did his darnedest to get the thin early assembly moving. Yacht regular Matt LeBlanc waved from the VIP well. Well after midnight, the room jolted with energy as the core guests — Latin Americans? Europeans? Global citizens? — arrived and immediately began to writhe gracefully. Bottle service is a big part of those confabs. Not for me. A pleasant walk across the Drake Bridge was in my stars instead.