For its 20th anniversary, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University shed its buttoned-down image for a rip-roaring party introducing a young professional crowd to the lighter side of the think tank business. "Club Berlin" rocked the Rice campus as 700 revelers responded enthusiastically to the invitation to join "the night awash in digital graffiti."
This was not the notorious pre-World War Berlin that the thirtysomethings and friends embraced, rather the Berlin of 1989 when the wall came down and when James A. Baker III was Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush. The beauty of this party was the fact that it took place on the same day that the wall fell, Nov. 9. When the Baker Institute's Ryan Kirksey announced the coincidental date, the crowd erupted in cheers and as one Twitter writer posted, "For a moment, it is like we are there."
And, yes, flat screens around the party tent, erected in front of the Baker Institute, spotlighted related Twitter feeds and Instagram photos that guests posted throughout the night. And that was just part of the hipster vibe that kept the energy level soaring. Kudos to "Club Berlin" chairs Kristen and Lee Nix, Molly Ward and Cody Sutton and to honorary chairs Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager.
Jenna and Kristen are close friends from their time together at the University of Texas and the former president's daughter answered to the affirmative when asked by Kristen to join the party.
"Luckily, this worked out that we had three events in a row," Jenna said, "and three events that we care about. Houston Methodist — my grandfather was treated there last year and it's an amazing hospital so I try to support it — and then obviously James Baker has been a great friend of our family for a long, long time. So we're thrilled to be here last night and tonight."
New York celeb DJ Kiss kept the turntables spinning while guests danced, chilled in the sleek lounge set-ups and grazed through food displays put on by three of the city's top chefs — Bryan Caswell, Philip Speer and Ronnie Killen, each of whom was on the scene to mix with the guests. Just as he did the night before at the 20th anniversary party, Richard Flowers of The Events Co., worked the party magic.
The graffiti theme inspired all manner of dressing from sedate cocktail attire to the wild and wicked, particularly those mohawk wigs, some in psychedelic colors.
Tripping this night fantastic were Geraldina and Scott Wise, Sheridan and John Eddie Williams, Cynthia and Bucky Allshouse, Channing Allshouse, Susan and Chris Peters, Kari Gonzales and John Dagley, Kathrine and Mark Yzaguirre, Kourtney and Andy Cyrus and Jennifer and Michael Hanson.