Embattled YouTube megastar David Dobrik was in Chicago for Lollapalooza last weekend to throw himself a party after months of relative silence following sexual assault allegations against a former member of his video-creating “Vlog Squad.”
Dobrik’s prank-filled four-minute videos, reminiscent of MTV’s Jackass and Punk’d, earned him more than 18 million YouTube subscribers since 2015, and sponsorships from EA Sports, Chipotle, Bumble, Facebook, and HBO Max followed. But they all dropped him late March, after Insider published a story about a woman’s rape allegation against a former “Vlog Squad” member.
The 25-year-old Dobrik recorded two apology videos, and said he was taking a “serious” break from social media. But after a three-month hiatus, Dobrik’s making weekly videos again.
Friday’s festivities were billed as a “House Party” with Dobrik and friends – a house party where the price of admission ranged from $US40 ($AU54) for a general admission ticket (alcohol not included), to as much as $US1,500 ($AU2,044) for an eight-person booth. I bought a “last call” general admission ticket to see what the hype of David Dobrik is all about.
The party was at the Hubbard Inn in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. I arrived just after 9 p.m., an hour after doors opened.
No waiting in line to get in. I just displayed my $US100 ($AU136) ticket on my phone, showed my ID to prove I wasn’t underage, and I was in.
I thought I was arriving fashionably late, but it immediately became apparent that I underestimated society’s current partying standards.
These first-floor booths for eight guests were sold for $US1,000 ($AU1,362) (plus a $US62.50 ($AU85) fee) and included a bottle of vodka, two bottles of champagne, and your own server. Other perks of this package included a chance to win eight Lollapalooza tickets and access to an “express entry,” which is confusing because it took approximately 30 seconds for me to get from the front door to this table.
After walking around taking photos of mostly empty booths on the first floor, I noticed people walking to the second floor. Something told me that’s where the party was at.
My general admission ticket was supposed to give me access to both floors (or so I thought), but I was initially told I couldn’t go up because it was a private event. So I just waited five minutes until a different person was guarding the staircase and tried again. Success!
House music pulsated in my ears the moment I got up to the second floor.
The tables on the second floor were just as empty as those on the first floor but more expensive at $US1,500 ($AU2,044), with the same amenities as the tables on the first floor. Maybe it’s $US500 ($AU681) extra for the ability to swing in your chair while you drink champagne?
It was almost 10 p.m when partygoers started getting a little confident and began busting some moves.
Still no sign of Dobrik, though. Although the party was supposed to be taking place on both floors, it looked like all the action was upstairs.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the couch in front of the DJ table was there to serve as a buffer so partygoers wouldn’t get too close to Dobrik.
Dobrik would later appear behind the DJ booth.
Women carrying a bright ‘Hubbard Inn’ sign announced the arrival of booze to a table I presume was no longer deserted.
The dancing got more energetic as “Portsmouths Finest” by DJ BABY EGG began to play. At that point, the second floor is starting to fill up and it got more difficult to move around.
More people gathered in front of the DJ booth in anticipation of Dobrik’s arrival.
This is probably a good time to mention that earlier in the day Chicago health officials recommended that people wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status because the Delta Variant is causing a surge in COVID-19 cases. No one seemed concerned about that, though.
This is where Dobrik would hang out, eventually. Soon, the crowd would converge here, phones in the air, for a chance to see and photograph Dobrik and his friends.
While we waited, I approached a few people to get their thoughts on Dobrik.
Angel Irizarry, who had a general admission ticket, has been following Dobrik for about five years. He said the sexual assault allegations against a “Vlog Squad” member “was a bad situation” for Dobrik, but Irizarry thinks the YouTube star handled the situation well.
“He’s still trying to improve himself on the mistakes he makes,” he said.
One woman told me she was only vaguely aware of Dobrik through his YouTube videos but came to the party to be with a friend because she was bored. She wouldn’t give me her name, and neither would a couple who simply nodded when I asked if they were Dobrik fans.
Just after around 11 p.m. there was a David Dobrik sighting. Sort of.
It was impossible to see anything but a fluorescent guitar with a bottle of liquor in it and plenty of phones. I was guilty of this, of course. This went on for at least 20 minutes.
About 30 minutes before midnight, fans got their first sighting of Dobrik behind the DJ table.
Sporting a Dodgers cap, track pants, and a McDonald’s sweatshirt that said “I’m Lovin’ It”, Dobrik appeared ready to spin some tunes.
Dobrik took some footage of the fans before he took to the decks.
It was nearly impossible to hear anything above the cheering and French Montana’s 2012 hit, “Pop That.”
Picture-taking continued, with little actual DJ’ing from David.
His fans didn’t seem to have lost any enthusiasm for their favorite YouTuber. But that’s not to say his return to the spotlight has been universally heralded. The details of his pay-to-party event were lambasted by Dexerto and Sportskeeda.
Fans lined up by the wall next to the DJ table to get a quick chat in with David.
A security guard stood next to Dobrik as he chatted with fans who had lined up by retractable rope dividers.
Almost an hour into Dobrik’s DJ set, during which I didn’t actually see him DJ, the crowd was still angling for a shot of Dobrik.
For most of the crowd, they just had to hold their phone up and hope for the best.
In between breaks from ‘DJ’ing,’ Dobrik would return to his private nook on the second floor and the crowd quickly followed.
I was told “Vlog Squad” regulars Jason Nash and Natalie Mariduena were there but I had trouble recognizing them since I only found out who Dobrik and the “Vlog Squad” were on Thursday. A comparison of this picture to a tagged Instagram post from that night confirms Nash was present in the pink Dobrik room.
When Abba’s “Dancing Queen” started to play, it was clear the fun was almost over.
There was dancing going on, sure, but most people were experiencing the party through their phones.
The second floor started emptying out shortly after 1:00 a.m.
When I left, there was only one guy trying to hold it down in the dancing department. Is it possible that I missed one half of the party downstairs? Maybe. I mean, I did spend a long time taking pictures of people taking pictures. But when I left it certainly didn’t look like any partying had occurred on the first floor.