Valleywag party expert Megan McCarthy crashes Yahoo's bash at the Web 2.0 Summit, sucks on flavored oxygen, and reports.

Oh my God, I <3 the Bubble. All the excess, the vanity, the frivolousness, it's so great. What else could explain a conference opening party featuring a candlelit jazz corner, free massages, an oxygen bar and the chance to hustle engineers with your billiards prowess? Not to mention the complementary drinks and fancy deserts, branded schwag and, oh, did I mention that there was an OXYGEN BAR?

Yahoo! sponsored the After Hours Lounge & Progressive Suite Party last night at the Palace Hotel, home of the Web 2.0 (TM) Conference Summit. It was easily crashable - I snuck in by merging with a group of nametag-clad attendees and avoiding eye contact with the worker checking credentials.

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The Sunset Court, the large foyer connecting the different conference rooms, was bathed in purple light and the glow from flat-screen TVs showcasing Second Life excerpts and clips from Beck's concert at Yahoo Hack Day. Since the party started at 9:30, the food available leaned towards the sweet side of the palate. At one table, a man served s'mores on fine china. The next station had melted Ghirardelli cascading down a four-tiered fountain with plates of strawberries, cake, and sliced pineapple available to dip in the chocolate. It was fantastic.

Attending the Web 2.0 Summit must be highly stressful work, because the theme of afterparty was extreme relaxation. Level 3 Communications turned the Marina suite into an upscale massage parlor, offering back rubs and reflexology to tired attendees. If you wanted to unwind with a game of pool, you could check out the Sea Cliff suite, where there were two tables set up by About.com. The Presidio suite became a virtual make-out room, dark, cozy, and lit only by candles, featuring a three-piece jazz ensemble with sponsor Etelos's President & CEO Danny Kolke on the keys.

These parties are never about the entertainment, though, are they? It's always about the people and the networking. Walking through the crowd, I met Dan from Fox Interactive, who told me that MySpace Tom skipped the conference to go to Tokyo for the Launch of MySpace Japan, a choice I assume was not a difficult one. Also seen out and about were Tailrank founder Kevin Burton, Mashery President & CEO Oren Michaels, Valleyschwag procurement officer Tara Anderson, Jason and Patrick from software company Cambrian House, Robert Pazornik from LicketyShip (a familiar face from STIRR 1.7), and People Aggregator's Marc Canter (and his lovely wife Lisa) who invited me (I declined) to smoke a joint in one of the conference-provided hotel rooms upstairs.

Above and beyond, the most bizarre thing about the evening was the oxygen bar in Intel's Pacific Heights suite. Plastic tubes emerged from a clear case containing four "flavors" of some sort of liquid, one of which bubbled up depending on the lever you pushed. The woman running the bar gave out individual nasal cannulas to attach the tube, and you were just supposed to sit there and inhale. The end result was twelve people sitting, vacant eyed, breathing heavily through their nosepiece. (It reminded me of Nursing Home Night at Foxwoods, except you changed flavors instead of pulling the slot handle and no one was smoking a Newport out of their trachea hole.) As for the oxygen, it was ethereal, slightly energizing, and, okay, fine, I didn't feel a thing from it, but other people said they did so I lied and pretended I could see the Emperor's clothes, too. One thing is certain, though: the Bubble smells like Citrus Zen.