News & Politics

A Night Out: Bytes & Books Inaugural Ball

We saw Star Wars legend George Lucas in the flesh. Unfortunately, he did not bring Chewbacca as his date.

George Lucas was honored with an award at the Bytes & Books ball. All photographs by Chris Leaman

What: Bytes & Books Inaugural Ball.

Where: Folger Shakespeare Library.

When: Tuesday, January 20, 6:30 PM.

Who: Bytes & Books brought out 450 teachers and tech geeks, spruced up for the occasion in dapper tuxedos and glitzy floor-length gowns. The most noteworthy person in the over-40 crowd was movie director George Lucas, there to accept an award for his work on education technology. Senator Edward Kennedy was slated to be there for the same reason, but after having a seizure at Obama’s Capitol luncheon earlier in the day, he was unable to attend. A staffer accepted the award on his behalf.

Food and drink: The event featured five well-stocked open bars with no waiting time. (We love events with responsible adults not out to get hammered!) The drinks du jour seemed to be white wine, Champagne, and big glasses of water—the temperature in some of the rooms was close to unbearable, leaving nearly everyone parched. Food included passed hors d’oeuvres such as gooey balls of fried goat cheese and skewered shrimp wrapped in smoky prosciutto as well as a buffet with roast beef, ramekins of orzo mac and cheese, and warm, cinnamon-doused pears.

See more photos of inaugural balls.

Tickets: All the tickets were given out to sponsors and organizing groups to make available to their supporters. None were available to the public. When we asked a spokesperson what the ticket price was, she couldn’t give an answer.

Scene: After a brief awards ceremony, the night’s lone heavyweight, Lucas, all but disappeared. Maybe he was whisked off to another event? His whereabouts were unclear, and we were more than a little disappointed to have missed our photo op with the Star Wars mastermind.

With the awards doled out early, the rest of the event became a mingling affair, in which old friends reconnected and strangers passed out business cards. A jazz band was set up in one room with a small dance floor, but most were content to sip drinks, munch food, and chat in small circles. A few tables and chairs were available for respite, but guests who claimed their spots early on were vigilant in keeping them.  

Favorite Star Wars moment: Lucas on computers for kids: “We don’t have to feed kids information anymore. We now have little R2-D2 units to do it for us. And all the kids know how to use them.”

Best Hollywood-on-Washington moment: “Congressmen are notorious cowards,” Lucas said. “If you write them a letter and tell them to support anything, they’ll do it.”

Boldface names: 3 out of 5.
Swankiness: 4 out of 5.
Food and drink: 3 out of 5.
Overall exclusivity: 4 out of 5.

Total score:
14 out of 20.

>> See all inaugural ball coverage 

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