Empire state of mind

SO after my Christmas festivities with the Carey-Cannons, I travelled back to New York with them and spent my last few vacation dates there.

I took advantage of the free time and fitted in jivamukti yoga lessons; walked the streets, taking in the beautiful window displays; and caught up with my Manhattan-based pals like my old MTV News crew, the new owners of VIBE magazine, the former head of HOT97 radio, and of course, my homie Estelle, who now calls the Big Apple her home.

One night, just before New Year’s Eve, Estelle and I met up in Fifth Avenue, where we did a spot of shopping. We had lunch at Balthazar restaurant and popped into Bloomingdales to buy Estelle a pair of earmuffs. Having your ears unprotected in the New York cold isn’t advisable!

Estelle accompanied me to Gucci and patiently waited an hour whilst I contemplated the shoe section. When shoppers stood in shock when they spotting her, I felt proud of how far her talent, perseverance and tenacity had brought her. When some fans tried to take pictures with her in the store and the security advised that photos weren’t allowed, she actually stepped outside with the fans in the blistering cold to pose with them so they wouldn’t be disappointed. That’s a gracious star.

We had our usual hair and nail appointments crossed off the to-do list before Estelle mentioned that it was her label boss John Legend’s birthday dinner that night and that she would love me to accompany her. Well, you know me readers. Why have dinner with one west London bred superstar when you can make it two superstars from different sides of the Atlantic? So off we went.

John was celebrating his 31st birthday at a lovely restaurant in town, where we arrived to find a long table of 20 of his nearest and dearest, including his girlfriend. We had a lovely evening with great food including steak and fries, enjoyed great conversation and great company.

Straight after dinner, John escorted us downstairs to the restaurant’s club area, where the VIP tables were laden with beverages and the ceiling was covered with silver balloons.

One by one, the area quickly filled up with stylish folks, including artists Ludacris and Ryan Leslie. DJ M.O.S was very good at keeping the crowd bubbling from midnight onwards, with old school R’n’B classics, as well as hip-hop joints like Jay Z’s ode to New York, Empire State of Mind. To see New Yorkers jump up and down to a track that made them proud of their city made me smile, but also made me wish that a UK act would do the same for London town. A few UK acts have tried it but nobody has really made an anthem yet.

John had one of his backing singers sing for the partygoers (it would’ve been cooler if Estelle had sung in my humble opinion), and red velvet cake was brought out for us to keep our sugar levels up. John took the mic as we sang him happy birthday and then thanked us all for coming.

At 2am, we left the party and to our dismay, it was snowing heavily outside. All of us ladies had our legs out bare in dresses, but thankfully, as we yelped and panicked, Estelle shoved us into a car that took us back to John’s crib, where around 15 close friends were just chilling and chatting.

Meanwhile, John’s British bulldog Puddy was also receiving a fair amount of attention, which was unsurprising. Talk about a gorgeous, sweet-mannered canine! All the girls were cooing and gushing over him so much that producer Consequence ended up starting a monopoly game with all the neglected fellas!

After it hit 5am, we thanked our host John for a lovely evening and braved the snow again. We found a cab driver to take us home and then the munchies kicked in, so we tucked into mac n cheese and fried calamari and then dozed off over our hot chocolates.

The next night was New Year’s Eve, but The Voice’s entertainment editor gets very cross with me when I go over my word count, so I’m going to have to tell you all about NYE next week – I know, almost a moth late. But hey, diva news is always worth waiting for! And yes, be rest assured, it was yet another typical New York night in the life of a media industry chic!

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