A Night Out: The 53rd Annual Corcoran Ball

By: Emily Leaman

What: 53rd Annual Corcoran Ball, benefiting the gallery’s exhibitions, educational programs, and community initiatives

Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art

When: Friday, April 18, 7 PM to 1 AM

Attire: Black tie

Ticket price: $1,500 a person

Who: More than 1,200 guests enjoyed an elegant after-hours soiree at the Corcoran Friday night. Among the more prominent guests at this see-and-be-seen event were real-estate developers Jim Abdo, Conrad Cafritz, and David Pollin; DC Council members Jack Evans and Tommy Wells; Washingtonian top lawyer Carolyn Lamm of White & Case; Washington Post president Stephen Hills; deputy DC mayor Neil Albert; former AOLers James Kimsey and Jack Davies; and several foreign dignitaries, including Yuriy Viktorovich Ushakov, Russian ambassador to the United States.

Food and drink: Guests sipped Sauvingon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Franc from a Barboursville, Virginia, winery. The three-course dinner included a crab-and-avocado salad, beef with potatoes and asparagus, and individual cakes and pies.

Scene: There was barely room to breathe as guests mingled and helped themselves to a well-stocked bar during the 7 PM reception. Men in tuxedoes and women decked in floor-length gowns filled the main atrium and smaller galleries. Dinner was supposed to get underway at 8:15, when a pair of trumpeters called people to their seats, but most in the crowd didn’t budge, delaying dinner for about an hour. After finally eating, couples took to the dance floors—one downstairs and one upstairs—and swayed and dipped until 1 AM.

Look below for a photo slideshow of the night.

All photos by Chris Leaman.

Though some took the opportunity to admire the Corcoran’s special exhibition, “The American Evolution: A History Through Art,” most were too busy oohing and aahing over the elaborate decorations to notice the artwork. Rooms on three floors riffed on the party’s Americana theme—inspired by the exhibition on display—with decorations ranging from ultramodern to downright kitschy.

The two-story atrium at the front of the building was awash with pinks, oranges, reds, greens, and blues, a mishmash of bright springtime hues that lent the feeling of a sophisticated picnic. Long ribbons hung from the ceiling like a rainbow, and the theme continued down to the floor level, with each chair dressed in stripes.

Our favorite room was the rotunda upstairs; it looked like an Ikea gone haute. The most modern space, meant to conjure the great outdoors, it was decorated in cool blues, purples, and whites. Guests sat in minimalist clear-plastic chairs, peeked over floral arrangements heavy on twisted twigs, and sat at tables dressed in linens with nature scenes. A blue sky with fluffy clouds was projected onto the rounded ceiling. The most gaudy room was the ballerina room. Each chair wore a sheer tutu and a blue bodice laced up the back with pink ribbon. Baby pinks and powder blues covered almost every surface, from the flowers and tablecloths to the napkin rings and water glasses. The room was reminiscent of an overpriced baby shower.

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