No one loves a good party more than oilman Lester Smith and no one gets more pleasure out of giving his money away than this wildly-generous philanthropist. Case in point: Saturday night's "An Evening With Disco Legends."
Consider the essentials of that costume/black-tie bash — $32.2 million raised for Texas Children's Cancer Center, three stages with three top-tier disco entertainers, 1,100 guests and a custom-made 8-foot disco ball whirling overhead in the vast ballroom at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Lester and his wife, Sue, were behind it all chairing the gala, underwriting all party expenses and matching dollar-for-dollar through their foundation monies raised for the cancer center. That match put this single-evening fundraiser at the top of the ladder of Houston charity benefits. The Smiths' largesse was met with rounds of cheers and applause when the giant-sized check was presented to cancer center director Dr. David Poplack and Texas Children's Hospital CEO Mark Wallace.
Perhaps the most surprising costume of all was that of internationally-renowned physician Dr. Mark Kline. He and Nancy Calles stepped out in matching glittering tops, he in a blond wig and zebra-print platforms.
The astonishing windfall was icing on the cake for an evening that raised the bar on party fun, particularly for those who like to dance. New York's DJ Ultragrrrl kept the retro tunes spinning so that there was non-stop music between performances by Gloria Gaynor, The Pointer Sisters and Nile "Le Freak" Rodgers. The blast from the past went on into the wee hours with a midnight breakfast providing sustenance for those who remained.
The party rocked not only with the oldie-but-goldie disco tunes but also with the costuming indulged in by at least half of the revelers. Afro wigs, platform shoes, go-go boots, gold lame and zillions of sequins punctuated the party attire. This was serious costuming with many of the guests poring over pieces in vintage clothing stores for just the right look.
Perhaps the most surprising costume of all was that of internationally-renowned physician Dr. Mark Kline, Texas Children's physician in chief. The otherwise buttoned-down Kline and friend Nancy Calles stepped out in matching glittering tops, he in a blond wig and zebra-print platforms.
Also tripping this night fantastic in full disco regalia — the night's emcee Dominique Sachse and fiance Nick Florescu (in gold lame), Emily and Holcombe Crosswell, Rachel and Tom Ragan, Fady Armanious as a convincing John Lennon, Paul-David Van Atta, Leisa Holland-Nelson and Robert Davenport, Carol and R.O. Hunton, Astrid and Gene Van Dyke, Dorothy and Ronny Cuenod and Noya Zucker with Ian Meltzer.
Standouts opting for more traditional attire were Elizabeth and Gary Petersen, Soraya and Scott McClelland, Nancy and Tom Gordon, Kristina Hornberger with Paul Somerville, Sherry and Jim Smith, Melinda and Sam Stubbs, Kathy and John Orton, Charles Ann Gumina with Ed McMahon and Joanne and Bill Crassas.