That was the theme of this year’s annual Charlestown Gala, the major fund-raiser for our Benevolent Care Fund. This fund enables Charlestown to make good on its promise that no resident will ever have to leave Charlestown because that person has run out of money, has outlived her resources. In our eleven years here, this was my first Gala. Above is the cover of the program.
Here I am at the entrance to the party site which included lobbies, two of our largest dining rooms, the connecting hallway, and side rooms. I’m ready to party. You’ve seen the beaded top which I embellished. More about the beret in the previous post.
The Gala is all about eating, drinking, dancing, and gaming. Most of all it’s about raising money. Below is the glass sculpture at the entrance to one of the dining rooms.
There were multiple buffet spreads like this one.
Because I had been given a table assignment, I expected a sit-down dinner. No. Instead there was a countless assortment of appetizer/hors d’oevres kinds of foods. (Not a vegetable in sight!) People kept helping themselves from the buffets and the staff kept bringing out more food. The Dining Services Director said they’d bring out food as long as people were eating, and at 9:30 they would bring out the desserts. I didn’t even see them.
I want you to see that there were young people there—mostly staff. I tried to hang out with them.
Lavish hot trays of rich, very attractively presented foods, here in the other dining room. Everything helpfully labeled.
There was food on all sides, everywhere. Here’s one of the carving stations—beef and pork, I believe. I don’t eat meat.
And the carving station in the other dining room.
But there was also food I do eat—raw oysters and steamed shrimp and crab legs.
Here’s the menu:
And now I see there was a vegetable offering. Except for the mini crab cakes, I stayed away from the buffet line. Next year I will take more pictures of the food, as it really is over-the-top. Extravagant.
And of course there were huge booze selections. I was drinking Dewar’s Scotch. Although I had a table assignment, I sat there only briefly and intermittently. While I was eating some oysters, near the raw bar, a resident came up to me and invited me to her table. She said it didn’t look nice for me to be eating like that. “Come join us. You’re welcome to join us.” I said, “I have a table, thank you.”
This is the hallway between the two main dining rooms, beautifully decorated by photographs of Charlestown in the fall, taken by a resident over many years and artfully mounted as collages.
There were two musical ensembles. One was a big band in the Chesapeake Room, with a dance floor, as seen here. The music was continuous, with people dancing right from the start, including me.
Early on, I was off to the right side, behind the pillar, just moving in place to the music, when a large black man approached and asked me to dance. It was a slow dance, and I told him I’m not good at following, partner-dancing, but he said I’d be fine with him; and I was. Couldn’t help wondering aloud whether we were shocking some of those old white people. All I know is that he is Bernie’s husband. Bernie, a staff member, and I collaborate frequently.
In the Shortline Cafe there was a smaller group of musicians, playing more mellow music—guitar and vocalist shown here. Seated in turquoise is one of the young people with whom I had delightful conversation. We’d both graduated from women’s colleges that have since gone co-ed. Lots to compare, lots to share. Both self-identified feminists.
Besides food and drink and dancing, there was gaming. I don’t even know what the games were. As we entered, we were given “funny money” to gamble with. I don’t gamble and I have no interest in such games.
I do know that these are slot machines.
And that this is a roulette wheel.
When I wasn’t shooting stills or videos, or having an interesting conversation, this is what I was doing: dancing. I went prepared to dance by myself, which I love to do, and I did. And as I danced, I motioned for other women to join me, and they did. But then men began asking me to dance. I lost count. Even one of the young servers asked me to dance, and he’s been practicing ballroom dancing for four years. Somehow I managed to follow without too many gaffes. Here’s our Dining Services Director with a resident.
Here’s Bernie with her husband.
Every time I shot this couple, they had just turned their backs to me.
Vinson again. This couple was seated at my table—a lovely woman wearing a corsage and her courtly husband. Even he asked me to dance!
Now, I don’t want you to miss this couple. He was not the only resident in full Scots formal regalia.
As I walked away from the dance floor, a woman resident said to me, “I hope your husband is a saint, ’cause you sure ain’t!” “You’re right,” I told her. “A saint I ain’t!”
End of the evening, for me. That bag is my funny balantine, made several years ago.
The photographer (the ballroom dancer kid), wanted a shot in front of the fireplace, so I obliged him.
If I can get it trimmed, I’ll post a video of me dancing.
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