When you think about partying with the stars of Jersey Shore, you expect lots of fist bumping, shots and drunken makeouts. Maybe someone will even get kicked out for being too intoxicated, fighting another patron and/or peeing on the floor. Or at least that’s what first came to mind when Us Weekly‘s Dana Rose Falcone got the invite to Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola’s 30th birthday party.
But since the MTV reality series wrapped in 2012, it seems the cast members have traded in their days of wild bar encounters for casual social drinking. Here’s what Falcone experienced at NYC’s Beautique on Saturday, March 11.
The ladies of the Jersey Shore — Deena Cortese, Jenni “JWoww” Farley and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi — plus mama’s boy Vinny Guadagnino arrived at the midtown Manhattan restaurant and lounge by 8:45 p.m. Instead of heading straight to the bar, they made sure the photographer (plus husbands, fiancés and BFFs using iPhones) snapped multiple pictures of their reunion. Once everyone had secured the perfect Instagram shot, the Jersey Shore group settled into a corner booth by the DJ, who pumped Drake, Justin Bieber and The Chainsmokers throughout the night.
Meanwhile, at the bar, The Bachelor’s Olivia Caridi (who met Sammi at the Vanderpump Rules bar crawl in November — an epic intersection of reality TV worlds past and present!) and her roommate, model and influencer Lexi Stout, were snapping selfies and taking Snapchat videos in between sips of their vodka sodas, courtesy of Devotion, a New Jersey–based vodka brand. When the Jersey Shore photo shoot wrapped, Lexie approached the birthday girl to ask if she wanted a shot. Sammi’s response, “Let’s wait until 9:00.” I was shocked, considering the Jersey Shore gang used to drink on the beach and pregame with “Ron Ron Juice” in their Seaside Heights days.
Deena and Nicole flashed hints of their reality TV personalities, though, when they booty bumped to “Danza Kuduro” just before 9:00. They put on a show, drawing the cameras’ attention and that of guests who wondered if it would be rude to Snapchat the two Guidettes breaking it down. But once the Latin dance song ended, they retreated to the table, where Deena proceeded to smooch and grind up on her fiancé, Chris Buckner.
By 9:07, Olivia was back at the bar, capturing the night on social media again. On the other side of the dimly lit room, I chatted with one of Sammi’s guests, Nina. She’d become friends with the self-proclaimed “sweetest bitch you’ll ever meet” through their ex-boyfriends, Ron and one of his Bronx buddies.
Sammi’s parents and older sister, who encouraged everyone to use the personalized Snapchat filter she made for the evening, were also there, as was her Just Sayin’ podcast cohost Clare Galterio. For most of the night, Vinny chatted with Jenni’s husband, Roger Mathews, on the plush velvet benches along the wall, under pop art portraits of Albert Einstein and Kate Moss, while Jenni sipped on a martini. Sammi kindly checked in to make sure I was having a good time as I bopped along to DJ Tom Macari’s Top 40 mixes.
Nicole threw her hands in the air when Drake’s “Hotline Bling” blared over the speakers and then stuck around on the dance floor to “Shake it Off” to Taylor Swift‘s hit. All the guests stopped what they were doing at 10:00 p.m. to watch Sammi blow out the candles on her white-and-gold Confections of a Rockstar birthday cake, another New Jersey import. Despite the few Jersey touches (and a gift bag that include a book by YouTube bro Dom Mazzetti and a sunglasses case for oversize shades), Beautique’s private back room was void of poof hairdos, obviously fake tans or “GTL” mentions.
It took Chance the Rapper‘s “No Problem” to get Jenni, who said on Instagram the next day that she was “wasted,” out of her booth a little after 10. Deena and Nicole, meanwhile, freaked out and hit the floor again when an Akon remix of “Danza Kuduro” came on.
By 10:30 — before the cabs would even arrive for pickups at the Shore house back in the day — the crowd started to dissipate.
When I asked Sammi how she felt about turning 30, she told me, “It’s scary, but I have no choice.” Whether she and her fellow MTV castmates consciously chose to tame their partying ways as they gained fiancés and families of their own, or if they’d played up their boozing and shenanigans for the cameras, they certainly have matured with age. All five Jersey Shore alums were down-to-earth (Sammi even did her own hair and makeup for her big night!) and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company as they let (only a little) loose on a Saturday night.