Where: Harman Center for the Arts.
When: Tuesday, January 20, 8 PM.
Ticket price: Despite being one of the priciest inaugural balls, the event sold out. Four packages were offered, the most expensive at $100,000, which included 50 VIP admissions and 20 admissions to the preball VIP dinner. The least expensive package was $10,000 for two standard admissions.
Who: This was a hot ticket for celebrities, many of whom are supporters of the Creative Coalition, a nonprofit social- and political-advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Big names included actors Anne Hathaway, Susan Sarandon, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Rachel Leigh Cook. Elvis Costello headlined a concert, and he was followed by performances by Sam Moore and Sting. Also at the ball were movie director Ron Howard and actors Alan Cumming, Heather Graham, Forest Whitaker, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Washington, Josh Lucas, Maura Tierney, Gloria Reuben, and Tim Daly. On the red carpet (or rather, the Pepsi blue carpet), entertainment journalist Maria Menounos interviewed celebs as they made their way inside.
Food and drink: Bite-size treats were a staple of the night’s fare. On the lower level were mini-burgers, pigs in a blanket, and mini-quesadillas. Upstairs options included spinach-and-bleu-cheese tartlets, crab-and-corn pot de crème, chicken on rosemary skewers, and prosciutto with candied ginger and dried fruit. Halfway through Costello’s set, the appetizers on the second and third floors were replaced with giant jars of just about every candy imaginable, from Pixy Stix to Blow Pops to Reese’s Pieces. Servers topped off the night with even more sweets by serving miniature chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with red, white, and blue frosting.
Scene: The four floors of the Harman Center helped to separate VIP ticket holders from regular ticket holders. On the lower level, below the main lobby, guests checked their coats. In the room adjacent to the coat check was a casual setup: Modern white couches and small tables were spread throughout, separate bar and food tables were lined up, and a Ping-Pong table sat in the middle of the room. A DJ played feel-good hits like the Commodores’ “Brick House” and Michael Jackson’s “PYT (Pretty Young Thing),” which gave the room a laid-back atmosphere.
Guests entered through the lobby, and celebrities did the same after giving interviews and getting their photos taken by the press. Once inside, most of the celebs took to their seats on the sides of the stage where the concert was held. The intimate theater inside provided everyone with a good view, though only VIP ticket holders were allowed inside until Moore’s performance. The performances were broadcast on flat-screen TVs for those who couldn’t go inside the theater.
The bar and appetizer tables were the main attractions on the second and third floors if you weren’t watching the show. It got a little packed during intermission—so much so that you might have found a couple of celebrities chatting it up right behind you. While tickets to the event were pricey, most of the people there weren’t exactly celebrities themselves. This was evident by the number of people holding their point-and-shoot cameras up to the windows of the main lobby as the glitterati arrived.
Words of inspiration: After Costello’s performance, many of the celebrities in attendance lined up onstage for the Creative Coalition’s Courage Show. They each took a turn at the microphone to read inspiring quotes from notable people about courage. Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, and Nelson Mandela were all cited, as well as “Barack Hussein Obama!,” as Spike Lee enthusiastically shouted to the cheering audience.
Celebrities are people too: It would have been easy to get star struck at the ball, but some of the celebrities there showed that they were just like anyone else. At the end of the night, Kerry Washington was barefoot in the main lobby, presumably because of her high-heel designer shoes. Rachel Leigh Cook and Alan Cumming were spotted chatting among the crowd during intermission. And a source tells us that Scarlett Johansson showed up to the ball but decided not to get out of the car because she was underdressed.
Pepsi here, there, everywhere: You couldn’t miss Pepsi’s inaugural spirit this weekend if you tried. Ads were spread throughout the Metro, hats and scarves were handed out on the streets, and the company sponsored Spike Lee’s Refresh the World Symposium on Monday, where celebrities such as Sean “Diddy” Combs and Queen Latifah made appearances. The Creative Coalition ball was no exception: Slogans including “Hope” and “All for One” were prominently displayed in the center, and the O’s were changed to the company’s logo.
Boldface names: 4 out of 5.
Swankiness: 4 out of 5.
Food and drink: 3 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 4 out of 5.
Total score: 15 out of 20.
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