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A Night Out: Luke’s Wings Inaugural Flight Fundraiser

All photos by Chris Leaman.

Luke’s Wings co-founder Sarah Wingfield dancing with a friend.
What: Luke’s Wings Inaugural Flight fundraiser, the first-ever benefit for the new veterans-assistance organization.

Where: City Tavern Club, the second-oldest building in DC, at 3206 M St., NW

When: Saturday, March 1, 8:30 PM to 1 AM

Who: For the organization’s first fundraiser, the turnout was impressive—and, for the most part, young, beautiful, and runway-model tall. At first glance, the crowd seemed out of character, given the usual silver-haired demographic of DC’s benefit events. But meeting the organization’s cofounders, Fletcher Gill and Sarah Wingfield, put it into perspective: The twentysomething-looking directors were themselves pretty, hip, and dressed to the nines. Plus Gill was very tall.

The pair welcomed 200 guests, many of whom seemed to be their friends and family. (Wingfield introduced me to her younger brother as she tried to convince him to dance.) One of The Washingtonian’s 2007 Best-Dressed Men, Ebong Eka, turned out—looking dashing in a charcoal suit, black shirt, and black scarf—as did former Miss United Kingdom Brooke Johnston, who competed in the 2005 Miss Universe pageant. Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, was also on the guest list, though he still hadn’t arrived by the time we left at 11.

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Food and drink: The $45 admission got you hors d’oeuvres—chicken empanadas, smoked salmon on pumpernickel rounds, beef satay, and wild-mushroom crostini, among other bites—and a cash bar, where sodas were $3 and mixed drinks $7. The beverage of choice seemed to be glasses of red and white wine at $6 each.

Scene: Partygoers arrived in fits and spurts at first, but by 10 the City Tavern Club had filled up. In the main ballroom, guests were greeted by local cover band Dibs on Shotgun, but the dozen or so people chatting in small circles near the back made you wonder where the real party was; turns out it was upstairs.

On the third floor, another cover band, E3, was having much more success. The three-man band wailed to classics like “Low Rider” and “Tequila.” The space was packed. A handful of people danced, but most were content to sip drinks, mingle, and catch up with friends.

A short toast at around 10:30 reminded everyone why they had come: to raise funds for Luke’s Wings and the injured veterans the organization helps. Former army officer Matthew Davis gave a short speech, recounting his time stationed in Rwanda, his weeklong coma at Walter Reed after suffering a severe head injury, and his months of therapy learning how to talk again. Davis went on to earn his master’s degree in business administration. He said, “I’m living proof that full recovery is possible”—to which he received rousing applause from the crowd and a hug from Miss United Kingdom.

Ratings:

Bold-faced names: 2 out of 5
Swankiness: 2 out of 5
Exclusivity: 1 out of 5
Food and drink: 2 out of 5

Total score: 7 out of 20

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