Houston's rich international profile was never more evident than in the colorful throng that gathered Thursday night for the Asia Society Texas Center Tiger Ball, a grand black-tie soirée that served as official opening of the center's highly-praised new home in the Museum District.
The international coterie of 1,000 came from all corners of the world — the various nationalities revealed in lilting accents and the beautiful national costuming favored by many of the women. The compelling visual tapestry included the creme-de-la-creme of the city's business and social circles.
"This is a proud moment for Houston, for Texas and for the Asia Society . . . The Pacific century has begun."
As Mayor Annise Parker surveyed the building for the first time, she observed, "This is going to be a center for the Asian community and other communities. But this facility is also going to attract all kinds of events . . . Houston continues as a magnate for the best and the brightest from around the world and a lot of those are Asians."
Led by a parade of drummers and dancing dragons, the crowd then moved to a massive party tent, erected in the Asia Society parking lot where oak trees up-lighted in green were dramatically incorporated into the decor by Bergner & Johnson. While collections of pale green Japanese lanterns danced in the air-conditioning breezes overhead, guests sat down to a spectacular dinner by City Kitchen.
Chaired by Margaret Alkek Williams, the gala leadership included an influential contingent of co-chairs — Sushila and Durga D. Agrawal, Judy and Scott Nyquist, Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron. Among the honorary chairs, Shahla and Hushang Ansary held forth at one of the two lengthy tables that held center court in the party tent. The other was hosted by the chairwoman, who seated 32 at her table.
The evening was a sellout (with a waiting list of 300) that earned $1.4 million for Asia Society coffers, a happy circumstance for society chairman Charles Foster, capital campaign chair Nancy Allen and executive director Martha Blackwelder.
As Allen remarked, "With this building comes responsibility . . . making sure that we have the highest quality programming to come to Houston."
Before the lineup of international entertainment began, Foster told the gathering, "This is a proud moment for Houston, for Texas and for the Asia Society . . . The Pacific century has begun."
Among supporters were Linda and Dr. Walter McReynolds, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Jeri and Marc Shapiro, Renu and Suresh Khator, Jim Daniel, Diana and Chase Untermeyer, Chinhui and Eddy Allen, Lynn Wyatt, Nidhika and Pershant Mehta, Glen Gondo, Louisa Sarofim, Omana and Sam Abraham, Rania Daniel, Mike Stude, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Joni Baird, Bevin and Dan Dubrowski and on and on.