For months, oilman Lester Smith had been promising a spectacular surprise for guests attending the Houston Symphony Ball underwriter dinner. He and his wife, Sue Smith, were hosting the gala evening in their lavish Memorial area home and the playful Lester was stirring anticipation.
When the curtain finally went up on the dinner entertainment, the 80 guests were perhaps not so surprised as they were thrilled by the performances of two couples recognized by the World DanceSport Federation as world champions. From New York, the Smiths had flown in Katusha Demidova and Arunas Bizokas, two-time World Champions in Ballroom International Standard, and Yulia Zagoruychenko and Riccardo Cocchi, five-time World Champions in Latin Dance. Both couples are currently reigning in their categories.
The Smiths, former World Champion Latin dancers as well, are known for bringing in top dance talent for their special evenings. But to have the creme de la creme proved to indeed be spectacular. The ballroom dancers seemed to float in the air as they swirled across the Smiths' second-floor ballroom where the dinner was held. The Latin couple heated up the scene with enough hot moves to send any number of the gents running for their Viagra.
Headlining the evening were chairs of the May 2 ball, Sherry and Jim Smith and Lisa and Jerry Simon and ball honorees Cora Sue and Harry Mach and Betty and Jesse Tutor (he traveling solo). Big news of the night, announced by Houston Symphony CEO Mark Hanson, was that the ball has already raised more $1.3 million. (What oil slump?) He also announced that Jana and Scotty Arnoldy had signed on as chairs for the 2016 Symphony Ball.
Among those sitting down the remarkable multi-course dinner by Culinaire were underwriting chair Dr. Robert Sloan, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Beth Madison and Ralph Burch, Vera and Andy Baker, Cathy and Giorgio Borlenghi, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Joni Baird and Jackie and Rey Connelly.