Shelby's Social Diary
The must-attend parties for society divas: CultureMap's top picks for thewinter/spring season
Oh, how we would like to say that we've singled out the top 10 upcoming charity parties or that we've managed to whittle the dance card for winter/spring 2012 to a manageable dozen not-to-be-missed events. But with so many entertaining evenings on tap and a handful of stellar luncheons in the mix, we just don't know where to stop.
So we leave it up to you to choose between the multiple offerings we've pulled together. You can' go wrong with any of these upcoming charity fundraisers.
The Performing Arts
The first quarter of the year is the season of the fab, fancy-dress balls celebrating the city's leading performing arts organizations. Herewith, the top four, listed chronologically as in each category:
The Houston Ballet Ball Feb. 15 (yes, mid-week) takes place in the Grand Foyer of Wortham Theater Center where John and Becca Cason Thrash and Pat and Greggory Burk chair this evening with a goal of surpassing $1 million. To that end, the chairs have lined up a yummy collection of rings for auction as well as a selection of art by artists from across the state. Shelby Hodge (that would be me) is honoree. Details: 713-535-3230.
TheHouston SymphonyBall, themed "Rock Me, Amadeus!," promises to be a lively evening on March 23 at The Corinthian. Fasten your seatbelts for this twist on the traditional ball. A chamber ensemble of Houston Symphony musicians will perform the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Copland and others with electric violinist Mark Wood, founder and former lead violinist of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Tara and David Wuthrich chair with co-chairs Audrey and Brandon Cochran and Alexandra and David Pruner. The honorees are Denise Bush Bahr and Philip Bahr, Julia Frankel, Beth Madison and BBVA Compass. Details: 713-337-8526.
The Society for the Performing Arts gala on March 31 takes a musical course with its "Una Sera de Amor" gala at Wortham Theater Center. Think romance when the Sicilian Tenors provide the early entertainment and then think boogie woogie when Skyrocket takes the band stand. Mary Ann and David McKeithan chair the evening that honors Margaret Alkek Williams. Details: 713-632-8104.
The white-tie-and-tails Houston Grand Opera Ball, themed "Viva Italia" will embrace the esthetics of the gardens of Villa d'Este on Lake Como as it promises to be one of the top-tier glamour nights of the season. Cynthia and Tony Petrello chair the April 14 evening during which top table buyers ($100,000) will receive limo service from home to Wortham Theater Center, white-glove Perrier-Jouet Champagne service tableside and names up in lights on the theater center's electronic marquee. Details: 713-546-0277.
The medicine balls
The Texas Medical Center gives us plenty of reasons to dress up and step out throughout the year but this first quarter seems to be the preferred season for the biggies.
First on tap is the Jan. 28 Crohn's & Colitis FoundationWinter Ball presenting the KTRK Channel 13 Women of Distinction, a gala parade of accomplished women in the fields of community leadership, service and business. Evelyn Leightman and Barbara Scott chair. Donna and Tony Vallone are honorary chairs.
Expect lots of glitz in the ballroom of the Hilton Americas-Houston where the theme will be "Silver Reflections." Details: 713-572-2232.
Next up is the Texas Children's Cancer Centerbash orchestrated by party meisters Lester and Sue Smith. They're billing the Feb. 4 bash at the George R. Brown Convention Center as "Houston's Biggest Disco Dance Party — Ever!" And well it should be with headliners Gloria Gaynor, The Pointer Sisters, Nile Rodgers and special guest DJ Ultragrrrl, in from Manhattan. Details: 832-824-6818.
Only a few days before Valentine's Day, the American Heart Associationhosts the annual Heart Ball. With Bobbie and John Nau as chairs of the Feb. 11 gala at the Hilton Americas-Houston, the goal is to raise $1.5 million. Elyse and Bob Lanier are community honorees and Dr. Roberta Bogaev is medical honoree.
No black-tie this year for the annualMemorial Hermann Foundationmega-fundraiser. The Feb. 24 "Under the Boardwalk" benefit encourages guests to wear "coastal chic or cocktail" attire. Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Melissa King and Rachel and Tom Regan chair the party at the Bayou City Event Center. The list of heavy-hitters involved continues with honorees Philamena and Arthur Baird, Leslie Alexander and the Houston Rockets and the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation. Details: 713-242-4450.
Ladies who lunch
There are simply too many charity luncheons to mention all in one place, so we have reserved the right to pick our personal favorites, based on energy level, special features and limited programs.
Hermann Park Conservancy's "Hats in the Park" luncheon is one of the most colorful, eye-pleasing events of the year when the ladies and the gents step out in their finest chapeaus. Mark your calendars for this March 6 affair to be held in a party tent erected behind the Historic Clubhouse at Hermann Park. Donna Bruni chairs the event that honors Ernie Cockrell. Details: 713-524-5876, ext. 334.
We love designer Andrew Gn, so how could we possibly miss the March 27 "Passion for Fashion" luncheon at Wortham Theater Center benefiting the Fashion Design and Interior Design Programs at Houston Community College? Gn will be special guest at the luncheon and will be interviewed by CultureMap editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh. Rosemarie Johnson and Melissa Mithoff chair with co-chairs Liz Glanville and Paula Fyhr. Becca Cason Thrash is honoree. Details: 713-718-8595.
For what will be 30 years on March 28, the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed Luncheon & Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation Benefiting the March of Dimes has reigned as the premiere luncheon of the season with 10 Best Dressed honorees introduced in a runway presentation. Kelli Blanton chairs and Lynn Wyatt, the first Best Dressed Hall of Fame honoree, is honorary chair. Details: 281-851-6236.
Each spring, we look forward to the liveliest luncheon of the year — the Latin Women's Initiative fundraiser, this year billed as "Sabor Latino, 10 Anos de Celebraciones." It comes together May 4 at the InterContinental Houston where guests are entertained with a market place of enticing goods from Latin American countries and with a fashion show by a prominent Latin American designer. Cyndy Garza Roberts chairs. Details: 713-850-2116.
The great outdoors
There is always something special about Houston fundraisers that take the schmoozing outside the safety of air-conditioned party spaces.
The Hermann Park Conservancy regularly has a winner with its annual Evening in the Park dinner, that begins with cocktails on the gravel flanking the Jones Reflection Pool and concludes in an open-air tent (rain or shine) alongside McGovern Lake. Ileana and Michael Trevino and Susan Krohn and Patrick Gehm chair the April 25 fundraiser. In a unique turn, the evening honors the park's neighbor — Rice University. Details: 713-524-5876.
The Root Ball, benefiting Trees for Houston (and have we ever needed them more!), is set for March 29 at the private club adjacent to the Houston Polo Club. Indoor and outdoor seating, buffet dinner and dancing under a canopy of leaves always make this a very special night. Laura and Andrew McCullough chair. Details: 713-840-8733.
The Bayou Bend Garden Party is hands-down one of the loveliest evenings of the year as guests in a richly-decorated party tent on the lawn of Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's center for American decorative arts. April 1 is the appointed date for the dinner/dance that finds both men and women dressing in their garden party finest. Bobbie Nau chairs. Details: 713-639-7523.
Every other year, Zoo Friends of Houston throws the livelyZoo Ball bash on the grounds of the zoo and April 20 is the date for 2012. Patti Henry, Lynnae Partridge and Cindi Scruggs chair the fete that is themed "Viva! Zoo Vegas!," which should inspire a variety of Vegas-style costuming. Details: 713-533-6896.
Just because . . .
We wouldn't want to miss these two events that are special in their own right.
On March 30, all heck will break loose at The Corinthian when Crisis Intervention of Houston holds its annual fundraiser, this year celebrating "The B Boys." Stepping into the spotlight for toasts and roasts will be honorees Bryan Caswell, Bob Cavnar, Bob Devlin, Barry Mandel and Bobby Tudor. Taking the reins as chair is Debra Grierson with corporate chair Holly Montalbano. Details: 713-533-4500.
The 18th annual Celebration of Reading, set for April 19 at the Hobby Center, once again brings together a compelling collection of authors for readings. Sandra Brown, Donovan Campbell, Harlan Coben and Blake Mycoskie plus a few more and special guests will highlight the evening that includes an on-stage (or in the foyer) dinner among the authors, chairs and big donors.
Maria and Neil Bush join former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush in chairing the evening that benefits the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Barbara Bush Texas Fund for Family Literacy.