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Never mind the Grammy ceremony. Do you really wanna put on that old tux just to duck Eminem protesters and sit through Mike Greene's speech? The real fun is in the parties, both before and after the ceremony
GRAMMY WEEK SHINDIGS:
PARTY ON, DUDES!
Come As You Are...As Long As You're Not Us
Never mind the Grammy ceremony. Do you really wanna put on that old tux just to duck Eminem protesters and sit through Mike Greene's speech?

The real fun is in the parties, both before and after the ceremony. And despite the downbeat economy, record companies will still be pulling out all the stops, though at least a couple of this year's shindigs will be a bit more exclusive than in the past (read: no media freeloaders).

The week gets under way Monday night (2/19), with NARAS' MusiCares dinner, which this year honors Paul Simon as "Person Of The Year," at the Century Plaza Hotel. Performers include Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett and Gloria Estefan.

On Grammy eve (2/20), the big events are Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy soiree at the Beverly Hills Hotel, his first of the post-Arista era. The invitation promises that "dot comes…and dot goes," but "Thankfully, there are still some celebrated traditions that continue stronger than ever." Also that night, "Rock The Vote" takes over the House Of Blues to honor Carlos Santana, Mary J. Blige, Reverend Jesse Jackson and MTV's Judy McGrath. The star-studded lineup of performers there includes Foo Fighters, Jill Scott and Black Eyed Peas, with the heavily rumored possibility of a surprise appearance by Macy Gray. In addition, RCA Records is holding a listening party for the new Dave Matthews Band album at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Grammy night parties by the Big Five include:

•The BMG Entertainment party, hosted by that noted swinger Rolf Schmidt-Holtz and catered by Mr. Chow, takes place at 5410 Wilshire, the old May Co. department store. The invitation arrived with a green glass paperweight in a wooden box. That same night, the RCA Records Group is throwing a bash during the Grammys at Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills.

Warner Music Group, with a very modest vellum invite, is throwing their party at the downtown Los Angeles Center Studios.

•The EMI Recorded Music party is sure to swing, as only an event planned by Nancy Berry can. Get your VIP credentials in order for this year's hoedown at the downtown Hotel Figueroa.

•The Sony Music party, which traditionally has been a gathering of guests personally invited by Chairman Thomas D. Mottola, this year takes place in the relatively small Ago restaurant on trendy Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood, where they threw their party after the Latin Grammys.

•The Universal Music Group shindig, usually the most lavish, will take place at the downtown Cicada restaurant on Olive Street, the old location of Rex Il Ristorante (where EMI used to hold its annual post-Grammy bash). Invites are being limited only to nominees, artist managers and top executives, which means losers like us are out in the cold.

•As for those really in the know, the post-Grammy places to be, among many private affairs, include three hot parties being thrown by The Firm, Jill Scott and Macy Gray.

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