I was recently invited to a celebration dinner with ~50 people. The only person I knew was my friend, who invited me, and everyone was seated at round tables with ~10 people each at them. My friend was sitting at a different table because he was being honored that night.
I sat at the table I was assigned to, but...the women on my left and right were impossible to engage. Talking to them was like pulling teeth. Maybe five or six times that night (literally), I'd turn to one of them with what seemed like a legitimate conversation starter ("So, how do you know X? I'm went to Y with him."), but I got single-syllable responses and blank stares. They weren't talking to the people on the other side of them, either, and I've never had this problem before -- so it's not just me.
I didn't know what to do! It was way too loud in the room for me to talk past them to the second person on my left or right, so I sat there quietly pretty much the whole time. Went to the bathroom once, and chatted with my friend on the way back to my time-out corner. Shit was weak. Next time I'm in that situation I think I will just leave.