Bright, White, and Festive Tonight
Carrie Rowlands Johnson
Heads thrown back, laughter erupting from wide open mouths, half-closed eyes, crinkled noses. Bodies move in synch with each other, mostly in pairs but also in threes and fours and groups even larger. Feet, knees, hips, arms, shoulders, hands… swaying, strobing, waving; my own body eagerly responding to the sounds, the vibration, the energy.
I glance to my right, just below the incredibly talented band, Gravity (by the way, a delightful call, Co-chair Christianne Smith Potts and company… one of the best so far this gala season in my humble opinion!)— feet dangerously close to the pool of water separating the dance floor from the musicians. Members of the band call out their own good-natured wager on the likelihood of an unexpected plunge.
Directly behind me, an older gentleman and his lady friend spin, dip, step. The couple occupies more than its share of real estate, trespassing on the personal space of their uncomfortably close neighbors, include my blogging partner and me, evidence this dance floor may have been better built at least double the size.
Relocating, I watch as Saratoga socialite and supporter of the arts Patty Riggi enters the dance floor, her left arm trailing behind, her hand attached to a Saratoga Bridges client. Together, they dance; they laugh; a simple gesture of inclusion by the generous and empathetic Socialite encompassing all this night entails.
Think Hamptons— a more altruistic and generous Hamptons at the start of one of the most prestigious horse racing meets in the country. Picture a sold out crowd of more than 650 guests, casual and elegant, clothed in shades of white and pops of color. Buffets of food, a silent auction, cigar rolling, a bourbon bar and a grand display of fireworks— all ingredients of The White Party to benefit Saratoga Bridges, a yearly tradition, this year held at Saratoga National Golf Course.
I walk away from the dance floor, finding a seat near the fire at the far end of the patio, a clear view of the party whirling on around me. I peek down at my own white Susana Monaco dress, inspecting for drips and dribbles. I finally let go of the breath I’d been inadvertently holding all evening, realizing I’d magically escaped with not even a drop of color in spite of the glasses of red wine and cranberry juice cocktails mingling around me all evening.
Another summer night in Saratoga, and another fundraiser – each adding its own signature to the evening, its own allure, its own call to action. The White Party, on Saturday, July 22nd, supported Saratoga Bridges, enriching the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families with programs that integrate clients into the community.
Tonight’s event bears perfect witness of this inclusion. Below me, on the dance floor and beyond, clients of Saratoga Bridges proudly wear their own best whites, joyfully interacting in this, their community… most-honored guests at one of the biggest and best parties of the entire Saratoga Summer gala season.
Photo Interlude One
White Is Tonight’s Black
Saturday evening couldn’t have been more perfect for Saratoga Bridges annual “White Party”—Grey skies and drizzle were the setting as I left Guilderland and made my way to Saratoga National Golf Club. I was pleasantly surprised as I approached exit 12 to see the sun peak through the clouds, preparing to make a grand entrance and answer the prayers of organizers and more than 600 guests planning to attend the soirée. It’s a “White Party” after all, and there’s no room for rain because that my friends would have made for a monochromatic mess! Thank you Mother Nature for cooperating…
Arriving fashionably late…ok, maybe slightly less than fashionable, we made our way to the outside venue where the party was in full-swing. A monochromatic sea of white awaited us. Amid the sizable tents, dining tables, and food stations all draped in white; party-goers mixed and mingled under the clear night sky while others danced to the beat of the super talented musical group Gravity. A silent auction was underway and a group of party guests assembled near the fire pit where they created a makeshift dance floor–grooved to the music, sipped on a cocktail or two and enjoyed a well rolled cigar from James + Sons Tobacconists. Later in the evening bursts of color illuminated the sky as Santore once again set off a beautiful display of fireworks. Hues of red, white, and blue; the most color we had seen all night.
If you’ve never attended a white party, you need to put it on your bucket list—particularly Saratoga Bridges’. This organization provides a myriad of programs and services to people with developmental disabilities throughout Saratoga County and has positively impacted the lives of many individuals and their families. It is truly a worthy cause!
My favorite part of the evening was of course selecting my best dressed party-goers! Putting together the perfect ensemble when white is your only color option can be a real challenge. For starters, there are countless shades to choose from white, off-white, eggshell, ivory, etc…But in the end, nobody really cares! Hell, even ecru looks great! Despite the challenge, our Saratoga friends got it right! P. Diddy would be proud! (Did I just age myself?) Scroll down and take a look at our best dressed favorites…
Photo Interlude Two
The White Stuff
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Let us begin by giving a six-figure salute to all involved in this evening’s gala – $113,000 raised through donations, silent auctions, helicopter ride pre-event auctions, live auctions, admissions, raffles and other assorted ways of giving. Each event that I am privileged to attend and cover is different in some ways. But when I arrive at check-in, I always say the same thing: I’m big on the volunteers, hail to the people who do the work! Hail to those who make it possible for YOU to show up and have everything in place, and on schedule.
At the Saratoga Bridges White Party, like other major Galas we have and will cover for you, this team effort is an overlay of Committee Members and staff (which tonight was so large a group that it took about six signs to list everyone’s name) and volunteers, who were mostly purple-clad and, in some cases, the recipients of Saratoga Bridges’ services, which your largesse helps to provide. The Committee Members get their pictures taken all the time – you’ve seen most of them in the photos above already. But the volunteers are my heroes – so one mo’ time! Hail to the people who make your good times better… you truly have the “White Stuff!”
Gala coverage, when done right, is not easy by any means. Bodies in motion, logistics, reassuring beauty queens that, yes – they look splendid, and no – they don’t have spinach in their teeth, bumping, thumping crowds – the whole schmear… it takes a lot to make an event happen; and it takes a lot to cover it the way it should be.
For we are chronicling society putting its best foot forward, and these efforts deserve nothing less than our best. Which is why I’m very proud of this team:
End of the night. Exhausted, feet probably killing them – yet they look like they would be up for another four-hour gala right now.
They’ve got the “White Stuff” too. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Additional Photos by Matthew J. Campbell
July 26, 2017