Nightlife denizens arm in arm with social swells, young professionals and media personalities found their groove underground on Friday when CultureMap inaugurated the new JW Marriott event space with a fifth anniversary blowout that rocked the night.
Yes, it's been a meteoric five years for H-Town's daily digital magazine — more than 21,400 articles, 45,000 Facebook fans, millions and millions of page views — and more than 750 ready-to-party guests joined the celebration. CultureMap's Fifth Birthday Bash, presented by Cadillac, was a night loaded with music, art, dancing, food and drink as well as fundraising for Casa de Esperanza.
Waves of guests followed the staircase that led down to the hotel's hip Gallery Level where IDT Band boosted the energy component on the Cadillac Concert Music Stage. Ramping up the party beat from the start were the Sonic Boom drummers, followed by the Fly Boys. Even after their hip-hop/power moves performance, the Fly Boys stayed on to join guests on the dance floor.
So many diversions, so little time particularly with the schmoozing required in the crowd that included a broad mix of Houston VIPs.
So many diversions, so little time — particularly with the schmoozing required in the crowd that included a broad mix of Houston VIPs — Houston Superbowl 2017 executive director Sallie Sargent, KHOU Channel 11's Lily Jang, KTRK Channel 13's Miya Shay, Tootsies' Mickey Rosmarin, International Best Dressed Hall of Famer Lynn Wyatt, hair stylist to the stars Ceron, uber philanthropists Sue and Lester Smith and CultureMap co-founder Lonnie Schiller with wife Candice.
"The original CultureMap was one of those middle-of-the-night ideas," Lonnie Schiller recalled. "Just a way to find restaurants on a really simple map. Mostly because, as a restaurateur, I could never think of new places to try.
"CultureMap really started to evolve when I got Tod Eason and John Thrash to be my financial partners. If any one person is the key, it was and has always been John. John not only funded most of it, but had the vision to get real writers and journalist on board."
One of those journalists on hand from the start is editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh, who noted, "It's hard to believe it's been five years since we started CultureMap. Every day has been a great adventure and to see readers so involved with the site has been amazing. I can't wait to see what happens in the next five years."
Another member of that early CultureMap team, publicist Mark Sullivan mingled in the crowd that included Yellow Cab president Roman Martinez and controller Erskine Black. That duo checked out the company's #HailAMatch Match Game while photographer F. Carter Smith made it a busman's holiday clicking away as he perused the eclectic party scene.
We loved the Bacardi Truth Booth where masked fashion police, delivered thumbs up and thumbs down to partygoers brave enough to put their looks on the line.
We loved the Bacardi Truth Booth where masked fashion police, delivered thumbs up and thumbs down to partygoers brave enough to put their looks on the line. And, thank you, Kendra Scott for the swag station where guests were gifted with her popular earrings.
Smilebooth contributed its photographic fun, much of the playfulness fueled by flowing cocktails and wines from Max's Wine Dive. At the Circulo Tequila Cocktail Lab, guests were instructed on making the perfect tequila cocktail.
The party action was endless as Neal Hamil models, under the watchful eye of Jeff Shell, worked the lounges with iPads, encouraging revelers to register to win the Cadillac Concert Series Giveaway. Esperson Gallery artists created artworks for sale. DJ Bizonee spun the discs. Various eateries offered up yummy taste treats.
The party crowd included Casa de Esperanza board president Ed Smith, David Peck, Joanne King Herring, Stuart Rosenberg, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, Dr. Romy Mitchell, Neal Hamil, Annie Amante, Jared Lang, Monitrice Malone, Jeanne Ruberti, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Courtney Zubowski Haas and Dr. Eric Haas, Theresa and Dr. Lamar Roemer, Judy Nichols, Magen Pastor and so many more.