News & Politics

A Night Out: Dinner with the Royal Ballet at the British Embassy

What: Reception and dinner in honor of the Royal Ballet’s upcoming week of performances at the Kennedy Center.

Where: The British ambassador’s residence.

When: Monday, June 22, 7:30 PM.

Who: The Royal Ballet company’s dancers, choreographers, and technicians mingled with former ambassadors, diplomats, and big names in the Washington arts scene, such as Michael Kaiser, the president of the Kennedy Center, who stopped by before dinner.

Attire: Suit and (sometimes) tie for the men and garden-party dresses for the women, with lots of variety in between. Some of the more creative men stepped it up with their shoe selection: We spotted cream-colored alligator loafers and lace-up black patent boots along with more traditional looks.

Scene: After enjoying the weather with drinks in the garden adjoining the residence, the dinner buffet was served inside under the gaze of Queen Elizabeth II (okay, so it was just an Andy Warhol portrait of the Queen).

Guests sat in casual clusters of small tables arranged throughout the residence’s posh reception and dining rooms—think marble, ornate chandeliers, and Oriental rugs. The tables featured quirky aromatic floral centerpieces that mixed mint leaves with pastel spring blooms.

The food was followed by speeches from the British ambassador, Sir Nigel Sheinwald—who joked that he’d be brief, so as not to delay the much-anticipated dessert—and Dame Monica Mason, a former dancer and the current artistic director of the Royal Ballet, who recalled her first visit to Washington with the company in humorous detail. The company performed in an arena that had just hosted a circus; the smell was less than pleasant.

After dessert, more mingling—and, one hopes, a good night of sleep for the dancers, who begin their performances today.

Food and drink: Guests visited the buffet with gusto, sampling salmon mousse, chicken sautéed with vegetables, haricots verts, roast beef, and a comprehensive cheese plate. For dessert, waiters brought out a seemingly endless parade of dishes including trifle, the classic British dessert, along with miniature tarts and several types of cake (including one that was an unorthodox shade of blue).

Boldface names: 2 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 2.5 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 3 (out of 5)
Overall exclusivity: 2 (out of 5)
Total: 9.5 (out of 20)

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