A Night Out: 40th Annual Meridian Ball

Ambassadors from 30 countries threw down for a night to celebrate international interaction and understanding.

By: Matt Carr

What: Hosted by honorary chair Laura Bush, the Meridian Ball is an annual black-tie event that provides an opportunity for leaders from the government, diplomatic corps, and private sector to drink, be merry, and yes, strengthen the relationship between America and the rest of the world.

Where: Meridian International Center.

When: Friday, October 17, 9:30 PM.

Who: Ambassadors from Argentina, Finland, the United Kingdom, and 27 other countries meandered the vast landscape of Meridian House with their spouses and other guests. Everything from French and Spanish to Japanese could be heard in conversation, but could I properly identify a single ambassador? No. However, Senator Patrick Leahy was in attendance, as well as Nels Olsen, the power behind the world’s largest executive search firm—Korn/Ferry International. No Laura Bush.

Scene: Different settings called for different moods. Hungry and in the mood for light conversation? Head to the dessert room, where small tables and large works of art created a pleasant snacking environment. Dancing? A jazz band sent couples swinging on the dance floor. A second band performed in a tent outside, where Motown and other sing-along classics drove the young and old out of their foxtrotting shells into Patrick Swayze-style dirty dancing. For fresh-air lovers, the terrace was covered with soft pebbles and enclosed by a canopy of tall trees. Heating lamps scattered the area and fought off any thought of the cold.

Food highlights: Dinner was served beforehand at various ambassadors’ houses, so the ball focused on sweets. While the fruit tarts and chocolate éclairs were delicious, the cheese table located in the house library was a delicious change of pace.

Drink: There were several open bars. Dewars on the rocks was the classy pick.

Gift-bag contents: A leather passport holder, a mini-bottle of Jim Beam, and pamphlets on proper international communication. The canvas gift bag was the score.

Ratings (see our ratings explanation here):

Boldface names: 2 out of 5
Swankiness: 4 out of 5
Food and drink: 4 out of 5
Exclusivity: 4 out of 5

Total score: 14 out of 20