This month I attended the 12th annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, (#VCpoloclassic, #clicquotstyle, #vcpoloclassic2019, #veuveclicquotpoloclcassic) at Liberty State Park, in Jersey City, New Jersey. I decided to attend this event for a much needed mental break from Washington, DC. The date also worked out quite nicely overlapping with my birthday week, #geminiSZN. I decided to pay forward a review for the culture, including a few tips and tricks to help guide you if you ever consider attendance.
The Veuve Clicquot Polo classic had been on my bucket list of social events to attend since its inaugural year. Let me take you through my coveted timeline: 2007: I wasn’t old enough; 2008: I had just gotten back from a 6 month stint in London #jetlag; 2009: I just graduated from undergraduate studies, and moved from New Orleans; 2010: Opted for Atlantic City instead; 2011: Opted for the Outer Banks instead; 2012-2016: PHD World; 2017-2018; Repositioning self + Relocation to a new state! This brings me to 2019: 1st attendance to the Veuve Clicquot polo classic. Even though participation was on a whim this year, I was so excited when I realized it overlapped with an already planned trip.
I think one of the first decisions one needs to make prior to attending the VC Polo Classic is which ticket you want to purchase. This year there were originally three tiers on the first release date: 1. General Admission ($90 + Fee): This was the most inexpensive ticket that offered you general admission to the event and round trip transportation to and from both points of entry (NJ and NY side). After the initial ticket release date, two additional cycles of GA tickets were distributed between the two weeks prior to the event. 2. Early Admission ($150 + Fee): This ticket provided you a step-up from general admission as you were given early access to the ferry (Battery Park, NY departure only) and complimentary VC champagne flutes for AMEX card holders. So if you were like me, and leaving from NJ, this bump up didn’t really provide much other than a different line to stand in when you arrived to the grounds. 3. The Rosé Garden: ($475 +Fee): The Rosé Garden is the highest level ticket you can purchase for the entire event, regardless of departure location, day and time. This ticket provided you priority boarding from both New Jersey (Liberty Science Center) and New York (Battery Park), 1 bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Rich Champagne (MSRP $75 but cost of the bottle at the event: $130 important), Gourmet Lunch provided by Wolfgang Puck (including post lunch snack and 1 bottle of water), and then access to the wristband only Rosê Garden which included shaded open lawn seating with tables, couches, exclusive decor, additional photo opportunities, and Rosé Garden only bars with air conditioned bathrooms. All of this is important information when I break down the expense ratio. This year the first wave of the General Admission tickets sold out in minutes. The Rosé Garden tickets stuck around for about 1.5 additional weeks before also being sold out. After much deliberation, research (shout out to Wil, creator of Weekends With Wil; Insta: @wil_mikahson (who I met at this year’s match, amazing person, like & subscribe to his YouTube channel) and Dana creator of The Champagne Edit; Insta: @dana.mannarino) we decided to opt for the Rosé Garden package, and I’ll explain why in my recap/expense breakdown.
This was the big fun with the wretched, Vanessa Huxtable dreamt of having. I had so so much fun. I met so many new people, the food was amazing, and for my first polo match, I was very much entertained (congrats to team Veuve Clicquot). 99% of attendees are there to have a good time (there’s always that 1%, always ). The music was amazing, (anyone who can build a set list of Travis Scott + Ace of Base is a winner in my book), the food was super high quality, and it was just an extremely well organized event. I AM the itinerary planner in my friend-sphere so I pay much attention to detail and the time-management layout. There is just enough time to do everything you want that day: take photos at each of the locations, eat lunch, watch polo, drink more champagne, and then have fun during the let out, (approximately 90 minutes that turns into a dance/social space). In fact, there were folks coming to the event just for the last 2 hours, since last call at the bars is 5:30 PM. I definitely plan on attending next year and am so happy I was finally able to make this work in my schedule this year. God is real.
Go with people who function on your wavelength. If you are sit-on-the-grass folks, then don’t go to this event with someone like me. If you want to Diner-En-Blanć out on the polo field, go with a tribe who will help you carry the picnic basket and chairs. You are allowed to bring food and factory sealed non-alcoholic beverages, plus there are also food trucks that serve delightful creations. If you don’t plan on drinking champagne and want GA tickets, don’t bring the friend that wants to turn up and send “you-up” texts at 3:00 PM. It’s hot, there are a lot of people, and you want to have a good time. So be sure to select a crew that have mutual expectations of the day.
Wear comfortable and weather appropriate shoes. So listen. There is a walk from the drop-off to the event. The walk from the NJ side is shorter than the walk from the NY side, due to the nature of the port access. If you are leaving from the NY side and don’t feel like the walk, there are pedicabs available for about $10 per person, bring cash). If you are leaving from the NJ side, the shuttle coach buses are super nice, air-conditioned, and hold approximately 28 people, to give you an idea of capacity. The shuttle time is about a 7 minute ride. If you want to wear the stilettos and pumps the entire day, you are a better woman than me. Many girls opted to bring their flats in a bag and change once they got to the event but, we were just so anti [stuff] so we both wore flats/sandals; the highest shoe I’d recommend is a block heel. Also be mindful of the state of the field, dirt +rain=mud; my pink leather and navy patent shoes were ruined and if I hadn’t gotten them on sale, I probably would’ve rioted. TLDR: Be mindful of the terrain.
Eat breakfast. This should be obvious, but in the haste and rush of the event, it’s easy to miss. Don’t be that girl who is falling over by divot stomp half-time. Eat a good breakfast with a carbohydrate or two, and take your vitamins. The event is 11A-6P and there are consistent shuttles throughout the day, but keep in mind, it is a marathon, not a sprint. Additionally, if you are going to pre-game this event, drink responsibly. If you are not experienced in the alcohol + heat formula (like us SEC tailGATORS) this event is not the time to experiment.
Don’t forget your non-negotiables. For me that was a portable phone charger, sunblock, and sunglasses. I’m getting pretty hyper vigilant about my eyes lately so I made sure I had a pretty durable pair for the event that I honestly never took off. Additionally, I made sure my makeup routine included several layers of sunblock because a wrinkle is no friend of mine. Last, since Spain, I barked about needing a portable charger and finally bit the bullet. I purchased this one, which has 3 ports for charging in addition to a wi-fi capability for the “I forgot my cable” moments. It is a bit heavy, but I don’t carry anything in my bag anyway, so it fits me just fine. It also has a great LCD screen that lets me know the status of the battery and when it needs to be recharged.
Hydrate and actually sleep the night before. I was extremely stressed out the week prior and days leading up to the VC Polo Classic and made it a point to actually get rest the night before. It’s tempting to go out, especially with the amazing things downtown Jersey City has been up to, but we honestly came to the conclusion that spending money on the Rosé Garden was an investment that we wanted to be our best selves for. It’s literally impossible to do that post gin and tonic detox. The day of the event we were up at around 6am (it kinda felt like a holiday) as checkin started at 1045am and well, prep. It was nice to have a leisure morning that was calm and comfortable. We were alert, ready for the sun, and the champagne campaign.
Plan your outfit ahead of time. You can honestly come as you are to the VC Polo Classic, some did- but honestly, this is pretty much the wearable art-Met Gala for civilians. GQ annually posts their top lewks as do a host of other blogs and the hashtags and insta-stories trend for days. This is an event where your creativity and expression of all things fashion truly come alive and it is honestly a treat to see. I ended up pulling together a very “uptown” breathable outfit of pretty pleats and florals. I’ll post below.
EXPENSE TO EXPERIENCE RATIO
Now, time to do a bit of math: Let’s say you don’t get early access, and are left with deciding between general admission (phase 2 and phase 3, because phase 1 will likely sell out) and the Rosé Garden. You would be looking to spend about ($140) for admission to the event, give or take. Once you arrive you will likely purchase 1 bottle of champagne ($130) and then you are going to either bring your own food or purchase it on the grounds; let’s estimate about about ($50 spend). This brings you to a total of $320 in comparison to the $500 spent on the Rosé Garden with equal amenities. Now you’d have to decide, is the ticket worth the additional $180? Speaking from access to the Rosé Garden with a New Jersey departure, I absolutely believe that it is worth the cost of the ticket. 1. During the event I had a collective wait time of maybe 30 minutes for the entire day. That is in TOTALITY: arriving, I think we waited 10 minutes to get on the shuttle since we arrived early, 5 minutes to wait for the shuttle to go home, 10 minutes once we got to security to enter the event (probably the only tedious moment of the day), and 1-3 minutes of wait when we went to pick up our lunches, which was during a peak. That is IT. I never waited to get a bottle of Champagne, the bathroom, glasses of champagne, nothing. I am cranky and inpatient in my old age, so for ME the priority of the Rosé Garden ticket alone was worth the $180. When you break down the expense to time ratio, over the course of 7 hours, we’re really talking about paying a comfort/convenience-service charge of $25 per hour; totally worth it. As I age, I firmly follow the doctrine of time > money ideology. I will pay more to be comfortable and after the age of 30, let’s be honest we need to go where the seats are. The Rosé Garden ticket allotted for shade, seating in chairs in an amazingly decorated space. Last, I am not an outdoorsy person; I am in fact a very indoorsy girl. I have a sensitivity to heat, I have allergies, and wear contacts; I enjoy artificial air, sub-degree temperatures, and chairs. So when I willingly decide to be outside for more than a few minutes, I need to feel comfortable. Additionally, in the 12th hour, we opted to not bring anything but ourselves and a portable charger, not even water. We literally did not feel like carrying a thing. We just decided to buy whatever we needed and be as mindful and intentional about enjoying the day and the experience. It was truly the best move for us and an extremely freeing feeling.
The VC Polo classic is the kickoff to brunch szn. It is worth the time, effort, and planning and I hope to see you next year! Comment down below if you’ve attended or plan on attending. Be sure to check out the complete photo diary and let’s followup in a week.
Best, Dr. Dyce