How many black suits does it take to usher an American celebrity into an old waterfront building?
At least six, apparently, most of whom danced with black umbrellas trying to block television actress Eva Longoria from public view.
There was even a coxswain of celebrity ushering, directing the umbrellas' placements from a balcony.
"Up! Down! Up! Down!" she shrieked.
Longoria, a recognisable actress from Desperate Housewives, was last night treated to a party of largely unknown Auckland notables at Westhaven Marina.
She arrived in the back of an SUV, touching up her make-up, and stepped out in a brownish dress.
Longoria, who had earlier had interview questions vetted and refused almost all, including what she might like to come back to New Zealand for, arrived an hour after everyone else.
The other party-goers had already been arriving since 5pm to a damp, red line of carpet laid outside the building, where a sanctioned party photographer egged them on.
"I love your shoes!" a woman was told.
"Oh, thank you!" she replied.
She then had her cellphone confiscated.
All guests had their mobiles taken away, according to the occasion's strict controls. A Herald photographer taking photos of these entrances had a red laser pointed at her by a security guard, who reported earnestly into his earpiece. It was an attempt, most likely, to neuter a digital camera by small shiny light.
Inside, amid grand, old-fashioned dance music, there was plenty of the brittle swaying that is brought on by high-heels and sport jackets.
And flashes from the official photographers were unrelenting.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said the master of ceremonies.
"You're looking fantastic.
"You are the cream of the crop - the most special people in town."
The members of this cream of the crop, however, were asked for their understanding about the confiscation of their cellphones, and encouraged to move out to the cold sea wind for Longoria's looming arrival.