If the Opera Ball was hands down the most opulent event of the weekend, the third-annual Ball on the Mall Saturday was its younger, less exclusive, and arguably more fun counterpart. Roughly 750 of Washington's young and beautiful crowd showed up for a night of dancing, drinks, and optional dinner in a large double tent right smack dab in the middle of the Mall.
The L'Enfant Society-hosted ball raised approximately $515,000, according to a spokeswoman for the Trust for the National Mall, which combined with proceeds from the Trust's annual luncheon, adds up to a total of $1.8 million now earmarked for restoration projects aimed at making the National Mall "the best park in the world."
Attendees ranged from lawyers and public affairs professionals to real estate developers and Hill staffers. We'd estimate the average age of the crowd was about 28, an unusually young gathering for such a charitable event of this size. Spotted cutting a rug: Venturehouse Group CEO (and Washington Kastles owner) Mark Ein, former Mitt Romney spokesman Kevin Madden, and not-quite reality star Katherine Kennedy. With dance music ranging from the Jackson 5 to Miley Cyrus to early '90s radio hits (the DJ certainly knew his audience), the ball was legitimately jumpin' by about 9:30 PM.
Amazingly enough, the dance floor ended up being quite a bit less awkward than the post-dinner speeches that preceded the main event. Right before he made a few brief remarks about his love for the National Mall, Illinois congressman Aaron "Men's Health" Schock had to stand back helplessly as real estate mogul Chip Akridge rushed the microphone and proceeded to shush the youthful audience. Granted, there was a solid din of chatter coming from the back of the tent, but it was still a bit of an odd message to send to the purposely youth-oriented L'Enfant Society crowd: There was Schock, the handsome, young congressman, poised to share a few words with his own generation about the importance of preserving the Mall, and he apparently needed the help of someone older and wiser to command the attention of the room? Eep.
That awkwardness aside, the ball itself was by any measure a smash. It brought in more money and more attendees than ever before, and it felt like a real party instead of a stuffy fundraiser, which is precisely what the organizers originally intended three years ago.