A Night Out: Women Celebrate Women at the Knock Out Gala

More than 600 women—and a few lucky men—danced and drank the night away at last night's Knock Out Abuse Against Women soirée.

By: Emily Leaman

What: 15th annual Knock Out Abuse Against Women gala, “A Celebration of Women.”

Where: Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.

When: Thursday, November 7.

Ticket price: $500 and up.

Who:
More than 600 women—and a few lucky men—packed the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton to celebrate the anniversary of the local charity Knock Out Abuse Against Women. At the helm were KOA cofounders Jill Sorensen and Cheryl Davis Masri. We also spotted NBC4 anchor Barbara Harrison, BET head Debra L. Lee, socialite Pamela Sorensen, and DC councilmembers Muriel Bowser and Yvette Alexander. Washington Wizards wives Charrisse Jordan, Ione Jamison, and Andrea Butler also made the rounds. Actress Kathleen Turner—raspy voice and all—was the evening’s emcee.

Y chromosomes in attendance included Redskins star Clinton Portis and eyebrow-shaper and stylist to the stars, Erwin Gomez, and his partner, James Packard-Gomez. The evening’s eye candy: shirtless DC firefighters.

All photographs by Chris Leaman

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Attire: Cocktail dresses, although we saw more than one floor-length gown and some tuxedos.

Food and drink:
Celebs and socialites hobnobbed for hours over flutes of Champagne and endless pours of wine. Highlights of the three-course dinner were a flaky mushroom-and-goat-cheese phyllo roll and a pepper-crusted filet of beef with a side of braised endive. A tower of amaretto-drenched sponge cake with latte sorbet was missable, but strong coffee to fuel up for a full evening of drinking and dancing was a must.

Scene:
Washington’s ultimate girls’ night out opened at 6:30 with a silent auction. While some women bid on items up for grabs, most were content to sip drinks and gab with girlfriends in the foyer. The doors to the ballroom opened around 8, and the women were herded to their seats by strapping DC firemen at 8:30. Dinner was served while Kathleen Turner cracked jokes, introduced the chairwomen, and rolled short videos about domestic abuse and the work of KOA-supported organizations in the Washington area.

The action picked up when the live auction got under way. Clinton Portis took the stage to assist the auctioneer—in reality, he flanked him like henchmen and coaxed higher bids with smiles and good looks. A girls’-night dinner for ten, with a waitstaff of DC firefighters, ignited a bidding war and ended up going for $13,000. On a whim, Portis, caught up in the bidding frenzy, decided to offer a date with himself to the highest bidder; dinner and a movie with the Redskins hunk cost the lucky winner $5,000.

After dessert and coffee, guests were ushered back into the lobby for more drinks and socializing, while the ballroom was flipped for the after-party. Men from Fight Night, Knock Out’s men-only fundraiser happening across town, started filtering in for the after-party. After about half an hour, the doors reopened to a room transformed into nightclub, complete with a deejay and, of course, open bars. Guests spilled onto the dance floor and wiggled and twirled to house music before the headlining act took the stage.

Last year’s Knock Out after-party featured entertainment by rock star Lenny Kravitz, so expectations for this year were high. Earlier in the evening, Kathleen Turner had promised top-notch entertainment from an artist signed with Downtown Records. The room buzzed. iPhones and BlackBerrys emerged from pocketbooks. Who could it be?

When R&B performer Kevin Michael took the stage, everyone stopped—no one had heard of him. Dancers paused. The crowd turned to see him and listen to his soul-infused pop songs. A few left the dance floor, but most stood to watch the dreadlocked performer sing and dance around the stage. A few people started to dance again, then a few more. It was no Kravitz, but it’d do.

Ratings (see our ratings explanation here):
Boldface names: 3 out of 5.
Swankiness: 4 out of 5.
Food and drink: 4 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 3 out of 5.

Total: 14 out of 20

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