Monday, October 8, 2012

Dining With Friends, dancing with strangers

Posted By on Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 5:27 PM


Before last week, I'd never taken the time to check out the McColl Center for Visual Art. Well, thanks to the great tastes of two party planners — one of whom was CL's own event marketing manager — I have now visited twice in the span of five days. It wasn't until my second excursion did I realize what a truly great event space it is.

Wednesday night was CL's Best of Charlotte party, which is always a whirlwind. Amidst the meeting and mingling — and drinking — I didn't get to take in my surroundings. Luckily, I returned on Saturday night for the Dining With Friends Finale. (I've decided if I ever get married, I'd like to hold my wedding reception there. But I digress.)

Dining With Friends won me over as a great fundraising event the year one woman hosted a Snuggie (yes, the backward-robe blanket) fashion show to show her support. Generally, people get together early in the evening at a host's house for a dinner party, where he or she collects donations for Regional AIDS Interfaith Network. Around 9 p.m., everyone from their respective dinner party meets up at the finale to celebrate with dessert, drinks and dancing.

The general mood of the reception party was one of familiarity and fun. Surely, the four or five guys I spotted dressed in green pants must have been together at someone's dinner. The same must have been true for the ladies dressed in tights, headbands and other loud '80s gear.

The upstairs area of the McColl Center offered the entertainment of one live singer, fascinating art to gaze upon and pink champagne. Lovely. But the real party was downstairs. People mingled amongst the dessert samplings, painted positive red and black messages on a large canvas (perhaps inspired by the Malibu Red and Absolut CherryKran cocktails from the outside tent) and line-danced the "Cupid Shuffle" and the "Wobble." (I still haven't quite got the hang of the "Wobble." No judging.)

But what offered the most satisfaction — aside from the offering of decadent desserts from Melting Pot, Amelie's, Soul and other restaurants — was the crowd's diversity. From the rambunctious guys dressed in skinny jeans and Converses (whom I would see later that night at Marigny) to the banker types, from the model chicks in their cocktail wear to one guy dressed like he'd stepped out of a Shakespeare play — all walks of life were represented that evening.

Fitting, since HIV and AIDS isn't discriminatory.

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