When is a street party better held indoors than out? When the temps are falling faster than newspaper circulation numbers.
So it was that CultureMap's rocking launch party Wednesday night was moved from the streetscape of the hip, new mixed-use development Gables West Ave to an interior space at the site — 18,000 square feet of cocktail party paradise overlooking Kirby Drive.
Two-thousand eager CultureMappers packed the sleek scene to graze through a field of restaurant food stations, imbibe at 14 watering holes, groove to the sounds of three DJs and mix and mingle with the city's hippest cultural entities. Bonus fun — test drives of Cadillac 's new generation SUVs. Santa baby, put one in my green Christmas stocking!
As the partying throngs poured in from the chilled night air, things heated up inside at this prime piece of real estate on Kirby at Westheimer. Mayoral candidates Annise Parker and Gene Locke worked the vast space where social icons Lynn Wyatt and Diane Lokey Farb and fashion designer Cesar Galindo held court. Tootsies owner Mickey Rosmarin, floral designer Nino Shbeeb, make-up artist Edward Sanchez, interior designer Lucinda Loya and attorney Bucky Allshouse and wife Cynthia made the scene as did City Councilman Peter Brown and City Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. Andrea White stopped by between rounds campaigning for Mayor Bill White's statewide race.
They mixed and mingled across the party space with a number of guests perching in the Hotel ZaZa "suite" where president Benji Homsey entertained. Among those hanging in the space were Scotty Arnoldy, Ann and Don Short, Bob Cavnar and Beth Sanders Moore and Jess Moore.
This night was all about schmoozing and people-watching with as diverse an array of social tribes as have ever gathered under one roof in Houston. Welcoming the colorful contingent were CultureMap founder Lonnie Schiller, Mouth Watering Media CEO Stephen Newman, CultureMap president Nicholas Phillips, editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh and this writer, editor-at-large.
Amping up the night action were pourings of primo tequila shots from Riazul, servings of VeeV liqueur, Bud beers for the brewksy crowd and more. For sustenance, an array of international taste treats — Gigi's Asian Bistro and Dumpling House, Indika, Taco Milagro, Titos, 17 and Gravitas/Textile — satisfied. Valentino executive chef and partner Luciano Pellegrini, in from his base in Las Vegas, joined Sebastiano Mazzucato, director of the Valentino fine dining room, in overseeing an endless supply of creative bruschettas.
And who knew that break dancers could find street rhythms in Vivaldi? The Soul Street Dance Company, engaged by Young Audiences of Houston's Todd Frazier, wowed with their gyrations. While hip hop was their forté, the Vivaldi interlude rocked.
Among the high-profile contingent were Gables president and CEO David Fitch, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's Mary Haus and Willard Holmes, Jan Duncan, Susan and Dick Hansen, chef Philippe Schmit, Karen and Mike Mayell, Jared Lang, Liz and Tom Glanville, Astrid and Gene Van Dyke, Lauren Clark, Sheridan Williams, Byron Hood, Katie and Pat Oxford and Neal Hamil with Brad Hensler.