Monday, October 21, 2013

Washington Social Diary

The full moon over the Meridian Ball, during cocktails at the pre-ball White-Meyer Dinner. Against the column is Juleanna Glover.
Glam and "A Little Glum" In The Shutdown Aftermath
by Carol Joynt

The theme of Friday night’s Meridian Ball was “Gatsby.” Apt? Ironic? Both? The organizers couldn’t have known that it would land on the calendar just days after the end of a 15-day government shutdown and a near miss with an economic crisis. So, there was establishment Washington – you know them, the people the American people believe live, breath and work for them – done up in all manner of black-tie, feathers and flapper-era attire, nibbling foie gras, drinking Moet, and dancing merrily under a full moon.
Cockails, champagne and foie gras under a full moon on the terrace of the White-Meyer House.
The White-Meyer dinner preceding the Meridian Ball was host to 150 people in three rooms of the White-Meyer House.
The evening began with lavish dinners at embassies around town, and one also at the elegant White-Meyer House on the Meridian compound, and then everyone gathered at the Meridian House itself for the “ball” – with waiters making crepes suzette, a cigar bar, a dessert buffet of chocolate layer cakes, meringues and macaroons and marshmallows, and more Moet. There was dancing all around.

Or was it all so merry, really? There was a latent bewilderment in a lot of the smiles. Washington, after all, had just had the wind knocked out of it. There were winners and losers all over town – some of them at the ball – and a lot of people still assessing the damage. A lobbyist friend said, "The shutdown and all the divisive politics have left folks a little glum.” My date whispered in my ear, “The fall of the Roman Empire, you think?”
The Meridian Ball benefited from a beautiful October evening, allowing the party to spill into the beautifully decorated garden.
Showstoppers: Ismail Tekin and Rose DiFerdinando.
The ball featured crepes suzette plus a buffet of cakes and candy, as well as flowing Moet.
The dessert buffet at the Meridian Ball.
Funny he should say that. The demise of Antiquity was invoked only the night before, on a stage in the Roman columned Andrew Mellon Auditorium, at another post-shutdown glam gala, this one for the Freer/Sackler Gallery and its new exhibition, “Yoga: The Art of Transformation.”

The institution’s director, Julian Raby, was commenting on the “tragi-comedy of the last few weeks,” which forced the Sackler to relocate the gala from the Smithsonian operated gallery to the Mellon, which is not a federal facility. “Look around you,” he said. “The splendor of this place makes me think of the fall of the Roman Empire” – pause – “I’m not referring to the events of the last few weeks.” We’ll take him at his word on that.
The "Some Enchanted Evening" dinner hosted by the Freer / Sackler Gallery had its director thinking of ancient Rome.
The Baldwins, talking yoga poses for Congress.
The director of the Freer / Sackler Gallery, Julian Raby.
The Smithsonian’s outgoing secretary, Wayne Clough, got off his own shutdown jab. “Yesterday I called Speaker Boehner and I said, ‘Tomorrow we’re supposed to open a fabulous exhibition on yoga,’ and Boehner said, ‘Wayne, I had no idea. Of course, we’ll end the shutdown.” Clough compared the shutdown drama to a “bad episode of West Wing.”

The evening’s co-chairs were Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, who is a yoga practitioner and trainer (and a new mother). They got in on the act, too: “What do you think was the best idea, honey?” he asked his wife in contemplating a yoga position just for Congress. “The bed of nails,” she cooed. “It’s a good idea, right?” She said she would be doing no cobra poses while in Washington. “There’s too many cobras here already.”
Sally Quinn with Sackler gala co-chairs, Alec and Hilaria Baldwin.
The evening's benefactor, Dame Jillian Sackler, with Michael Pillsbury.
Walter and Didi Cutler with Julian Raby.
Yoga scholar James Mallinson, visiting from the U.K., with Cathryn Keller, who was a senior adviser on the new Sackler exhibition, "Yoga: The Art of Transformation," the first of its kind in the world. The former Empress of Iran, Farah Pahlavi.
Sally Quinn with Wayne and Anne Clough.
During cocktails, yoga practitioners from Lululemon, mingled with the guests and performed poses.
With a full moon in the background, guests arrive at the Mellon tipped off that the dinner will honor yoga.
Photographs by Carol Joynt.

Follow Carol on twitter @caroljoynt