You ain’t been to a party until you’ve been to a Latin American Community Center party. One step into the elegantly outfitted Waterfall Banquet Center for the LACC’s Grand Ball, Gabby was pulled into a dizzying vortex of dancing, passion, laughter and sexy, sexy, sexy.
At the center of it all stood Danielle Rice, executive director of the Delaware Art Museum. “You know, truth be told, I’m hoping Juan Carlos [Figueroa] will take me out for a spin,” she said. “Did you see him?” Gabby did, indeed. Juan Carlos and his wife Theresa, of Brandywine Hundred, put on a tango clinic for the uninitiated. “We wanted to make it a little bit sexy,” Theresa said of their routine and her dazzling red halter tango ensemble. Mission accomplished. “Did you see her shoes?” Juan Carlos asked. “They’re key. I try to keep up with her.”
He certainly did, as the Rev. Paula Maiorano, president of A Center for Relational Living, can attest. “Whoo!” she said. “That tango did it for me. I’ve never been to this event, but I’ll be back.” When Gabby squinched her nose just so beneath the delicious aroma of Spanish cuisine, she caught subtle hints of Eau de Election Year coming from celebrity guests Beau Biden (whom was charmingly appreciative of the efforts of Dr. Yamil Sanchez, director of Wilmington’s Kuumba Academy and the recipient of the evening’s Professional Achievement award), Chris Coons, Chip Flowers and Trinidad Navarro, all of whom behaved and stayed until the dessert spoons came out.
Dulce Lopez of Wilmington, the reigning Miss Hispanic Delaware, walked the ball’s red carpet in a black gown as sweet as her name, her sash and a sky-high sparkly crown. Though Gabby didn’t see her on the dance floor, not a single person moved with more energy and purpose than LACC executive director Maria Matos. Dressed in a flowing ice-blue gown encrusted with crystals, she worked the room. “This is the premier event of the year for Latinos,” she said. “We do this event to raise money for our early development center, and of course, we love to have fun. We love our friends.”
Her wing woman, vice president of the board Tabitha Castro, looked lovely and fresh with a flower tucked behind her ear.
At the post-dinner ceremony role call, Judge Aida Waserstein got the warmest round of applause and catcalls of the night. (Methinks her distractingly gorgeous earrings had something to do with it.) Plotting a way to get husband Eric Doroshow out on the dance floor, Aida turned to her girlfriends for help. “Just push him out there. Please!” Now, now Aida. Put the gavel away—he’ll go. And he did, as did many others after the Figueroas, with a flourishing dip, opened the dance floor for the evening. Gabby was reluctant to leave the smashing fiesta without telling LACC PR director Carlos de los Ramos and his assistant Brian Radziwill how dashing they looked in their tuxedos. Muy guapo, gentlemen.
Page 2: All in Good Taste
Felton’s di-vine establishment, Pizzadili Vineyards & Winery, hosted Delaware’s first Wine and Beer Festival on October 17. Perfect weather for a wine tasting celebration, to be sure. Happy festival-goers buzzed around the property, hopping in and out of wine lines and settling in for a picnic on the winery’s picturesque grounds.
The Who’s Who of the Delaware booze business was in attendance: Representatives from Milton’s Dogfish Head, Georgetown’s 16-Mile Brewery, Delmar’s Evolution Craft Brewing Co., Greenville’s Twin Lakes Brewery and Bear’s Stewart’s Brewery were just a few.
A Delaware Artisan Tent was on site, offering unique gifts and wares by crafters from all over the state. Gabby flipped for the iridescent, beautiful, fused-glass wine bottle stoppers handmade by Stephanie Seeman. They’re pretty enough to make one at least consider not emptying the bottle.
Gabby watched Stewart’s Brewery manager Scott Rogers pour beer after beer after beer for enthusiastic aficionados, somehow managing to not waste one precious drop. The dress code seemed a little confused—Gabby spied two distinct fashion groups: Napa Valley Cool and Day-Glow T-Shirt Indifference. One of the many fluorescent-shirted folk—each emblazoned with Beer Mug Mafia across the front—was Dawn Moore of Magnolia.
Were you aware there was an organized ring of beer-drinking gangsters in Delaware? Neither was Gabby. “Everyone likes to belong to a group,” Dawn said. “After you’re out of college, unless it’s like a Moose Lodge or something like that, it’s hard to find a place to fit in.” Hence the Beer Mug Mafia. “We’re just a group that gets together, likes to have fun, try new beers,” she said. “Some of our members review beers on our Facebook page.” The group’s favorites of the day were the 16 Mile and Evolution.
Dawn and her crew were too busy participating in the event’s keg toss and grape stomping to actually get to that other drink. “We didn’t really do the wine,” she said. Vineyard co-owner Kathy Pizzadili did do wine, however, and spent the day giving tours of the facilities. “It’s been thrown out there to go to twist-off caps on our wine,” she said to a chorus of deflated groans from the tour group, who clearly like their wine the old-fashioned way. There are always a few hiccups for a first-time event, but Gabby must give credit where credit is due: The Rosato samples were invigorating and delicious enough to distract Gabby from long lines and a lack of space for folks to party under the big tent.
Page 3: Night of All Nights
Gabby knew she was in for a treat at the Chase Center when, instead of a polite, smartly dressed doorman ushering her into the grand foyer, she got camels. Real ones, outfitted in luxurious capes of purples, reds and blues, the colors of The Night of all Nights, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra’s gala extravaganza.
The center was turned into an Arabian celebration, with carefully selected art, color themes and delicacies. Some even took a hint from the DSO and dressed accordingly, like Madeleine Nichols, a longtime Wilmingtonian who now lives in New York City. “We’re here to support the arts and to support the people who care so much about them,” she said. A retired curator at the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Madeline knows a thing or two about throwing soirées. “This job they’ve done is just perfect. Every idea was beautifully executed.”
Dressed in a golden headdress and Arabian-inspired pants, the Nicholses were thrilled to reconnect with Delaware and with old friends, like premiere Lewes painter Victor Letonoff. Guests’ eyes feasted on a palette of plums, reds and oranges, but they got darn full when Alexis DiFonzo strutted by. The Wilmington native wore a plunging V-neck dress of multicolored velvet cinched at the waist by nothing more than a fabulous jewel that sparkled as bright as any star in the Arabian sky.
“My boss, Natasha Latina, owner of Salon Pasca, made this dress,” Alexis said. Natasha, looking the perfect blend of vintage and modern in a black floor-length, beaded gown, explained that the dress was hand-dyed by fellow Delaware native Judy Topkis. “It’s inspired by the aurora borealis,” she said. “We’re going to Paris on Monday to compete in Hair World, and Alexis will wear this dress.”
En route to the show, Gabby was accosted by the call-it-like-she-sees-it Jean Collat of Hockessin, a longtime DSO supporter. “You’ve got fabulous legs,” she said, “not that I’m interested.” After an intro like that, Gabby was interested in her. “I’ll tell you something, and I kid you not about this,” Jean confided. “I know people. Those people will tell you that this is one of the best symphony orchestras in the country. It’s better than Philadelphia’s. I wouldn’t have said that 30 years ago, but I’ll say it tonight.”
A fetching Lee Kimball, executive director of OperaDelaware, was Jean’s date for the evening. “This is a time when the arts really need to support each other,” Lee said. “And our organizations continue to get closer.” How close? Lee went mum, but not before Gabby managed to coax out a little something: “I can’t say too much, but I can say that we are in negotiations about several events that we would do together for the 2011-2012 seasons.”
As entertaining as the cocktail reception was, it had nuthin’ on what awaited guests. Before cueing up, conductor extraordinaire David Amado, bursting with good humor, lamented to the crowd the unfairness of his job that night. “I am so jealous of you guys,” he said. “You get to see the fantastic Cirque Dreams performers, and all I get to look at are slack-jawed, glossy-eyed musicians.” And what a show he missed. The Cirque performers twisted themselves up in bigger question marks than the one Gabby had for one unfortunate red-headed guest who neglected to cut the tag off of her mink stole. Till next time, stay fabulous.