News & Politics

A Night Out: St. Jude’s Blues Ball

Attendees at the ball. All photos by Rachel Cothran.

One of the most redeeming aspects of the young party-hard crowd in Washington is that the carrying-on is often done to benefit one of thousands of charities located here. That was the case Thursday night, when more than 200 young professionals poured into the Galleria at Lafayette Center for the Blues Ball, the second annual “gala” event for Friends of St. Jude, the DC chapter’s young-membership group.

Everyone knows St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Memphis institution dedicated to helping children across the country living with devastating diseases such as cancer, regardless of their families’ ability to pay for care. Many know the hospital from their commercials, even more so now that Jennifer Aniston has been appearing in them, kissing a small boy on the nose.

It was questionable whether many of the attendees at this year’s Blues Ball knew much about St. Jude’s mission or if they volunteered regularly for the charity, but there was an open bar and live entertainment. The younger set may be a bit more shameless about it, but don’t many of the important galas in Washington follow the same sort of “drink for a cause” formula? When host-committee member Coventry Burke sent e-mails to friends encouraging them to buy tickets, she knew to mention the “crucial aspect”: an open bar (underlined and in bold) courtesy of Christiania vodka and Hook & Ladder beer. It’s a formula that works: Guests shelled out at least $85 per ticket, while others paid $100 for a VIP slot that granted them a goodie-filled “swag bag,” including a $20 gift certificate from Georgetown boutique Sherman Pickey. Once there, the crowd continued to give: The silent auction alone raised $3,800 and featured items including a year’s supply of Diet Coke—otherwise known as “water” to many a twentysomething woman.

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The biggest draw was the live entertainment, a rocking set by the popular cover band Burnt Sienna. “We sort of billed the event as a concert,” says Burke, who wore a form-fitting blue satin dress in keeping with the “blues” theme. Dancing was sparse and a little guarded at the start, but by midnight the dance floor was packed as everyone sang along. Several girls were up on stage, and one got an enthusiastic piggyback ride from the lead singer while he sang.

By the end of the night, everyone was buzzing about the after-party, which took place at the Gryphon room at the Guards—the “new Smith Point,” according to those in the know (and on the list).

At the end of the evening, one blue-clad male and female guest walked away with the title Best in Blue, but every guest left with the satisfaction of having helped raise an estimated $10,000 for the patients at St. Jude.