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The big schmooze

Launch party rockets CultureMap into the media stratosphere

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Gables West Ave was the place to be Wednesday night as the CultureMap Launch Party drew 2,000 Houstonians and both mayoral candidates. Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Andrea White_Lynn Wyatt_Anne Clutterbuck
Andrea White, from left, Lynn Wyatt and Anne Clutterbuck Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Caroline Boyle
Caroline Boyle tests out a 2010 Cadillac. Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_break dancers
The Soul Street Dance Company brought down the house with an awesome break dance routine. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Annise Parker_Tina Cohen
Annise Parker, left, and Tina Cohen Photo by Anthony Rathbun
CM Launch Dec. 2009_Bob Cavnar_Don Short_Scotty Arnoldy_Jess Moore
Bob Cavnar, from left, Don Short and Scotty Arnoldy Photo by Anthony Rathbun
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Ali Ebrahimi_Danci Ware_Suzanne Ebrahimi_Lonnie Schiller
From left, Ali Ebrahimi, Danci Ware, Suzanne Ebrahimi and Lonnie Schiller Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Aries Milan_Rob Thomas_Denise Flores
Aries Milan, left, Rob Thomas and Denise Flores Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Andy Diraddo_Peter Brown
Andy DiRaddo and Peter Brown Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Diane Lokey Farb_Laura Spalding
Diane Lokey Farb and Laura Spalding Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Darryl Hamilton_Ursaline Hamilton_Laura Casey_Rob Rutherford_John Dascoulias_Bubba McNeely
From left, Darryl and Ursaline Hamilton, Laura Casey, Rob Rutherford, John Dascoulias and Bubba McNeely Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_DJ Sun
DJ Sun grooved the house for part of the night. Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Edward Sanchez
Edward Sanchez caps off the CultureMap evening. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
NewsCM Launch Dec. 2009_Melissa Seuffert_Jamie Glover_Lisa Lee_Amy Branch
From left, Melissa Seuffert, Jamie Glover, Lisa Lee and Amy Branch Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Mimi Del Grande_man_Candice Schiller
Mimi Del Grande, left, and Candice Schiller, right, give Shaun Wymes a hug, Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Nanette West
Nanette West Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Nic Phillips_Kristen Cannon
CultureMap President Nic Phillips and Kristen Cannon Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Tena Lundquist Faust_Penny Wright_Robin Reimer_Tama Lundquist
Tena Lundquist Faust, from left, Penny Wright, Robin Reimer and Tama Lundquist Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Steve Popp_Amy Popp_John Pecore
Steve and Amy Popp with John Pecore Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Regan Schuman_Yolanda Williamson_Bryce Kennard
Regan Schuman, left, Yolanda Williamson and Bryce Kennard Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Marcy De Luna_Courtney Zubowski_Mauney Mafrige
Marcy De Luna, left, Courtney Zubowski and Mauney Mafrige Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Lucia Clark_Meredith Riddle_Haley Zerwas
From left, Lucia Clark, CultureMap vice president of marketing and sales Meredith Riddle and Haley Zerwas Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Lauren Manford_Lauren Clark
Lauren Manford and Lauren Clark Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Erica Rose_Franklin Rose_Cindy Rose
Erica Rose, left, Franklin Rose and Cindy Rose Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Cris Pye_Elisa Pye_Stuart Rosenberg_Marcy De Luna
From left, Cris Pye, Elisa Pye, Stuart Rosenberg and Marcy De Luna Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Shelby Hodge_Clifford Pugh_Steven Newman
CultureMappers Shelby Hodge, left, Clifford Pugh and Stephen Newman Photo by Bill Olive
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_outdoors
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Andrea White_Lynn Wyatt_Anne Clutterbuck
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Caroline Boyle
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_break dancers
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Annise Parker_Tina Cohen
CM Launch Dec. 2009_Bob Cavnar_Don Short_Scotty Arnoldy_Jess Moore
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Ali Ebrahimi_Danci Ware_Suzanne Ebrahimi_Lonnie Schiller
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Aries Milan_Rob Thomas_Denise Flores
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Andy Diraddo_Peter Brown
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Diane Lokey Farb_Laura Spalding
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Darryl Hamilton_Ursaline Hamilton_Laura Casey_Rob Rutherford_John Dascoulias_Bubba McNeely
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_DJ Sun
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Edward Sanchez
NewsCM Launch Dec. 2009_Melissa Seuffert_Jamie Glover_Lisa Lee_Amy Branch
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Mimi Del Grande_man_Candice Schiller
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Nanette West
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Nic Phillips_Kristen Cannon
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Tena Lundquist Faust_Penny Wright_Robin Reimer_Tama Lundquist
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Steve Popp_Amy Popp_John Pecore
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Regan Schuman_Yolanda Williamson_Bryce Kennard
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Marcy De Luna_Courtney Zubowski_Mauney Mafrige
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Lucia Clark_Meredith Riddle_Haley Zerwas
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Lauren Manford_Lauren Clark
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Erica Rose_Franklin Rose_Cindy Rose
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Cris Pye_Elisa Pye_Stuart Rosenberg_Marcy De Luna
News_CM Launch Dec. 2009_Shelby Hodge_Clifford Pugh_Steven Newman

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 DuncanSusan 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.

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