Shelby About Town
Get your dance cards ready for Houston's 10 not-to-be-missed parties
Hold on to your ball gowns and tuxes, party animals! The fall social calendar is bursting at the seams with events that will either ring your party chimes or possibly send you into a major snooze. A quick perusal of the calendar reveals more than 100 opportunities to wine and dine in the name of charity in the coming months.
In order to help you narrow the options and decide on where to spend those discretionary dollars, CultureMap recommends 10 special events in the coming months that will surely entertain you. Boredom not allowed.
*Martini Madness, Sept. 16
What more appealing charitable fundraiser than one that celebrates the martini? Here, here for the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft that inaugurates its 10th anniversary this fall with the mid-century-themed bash. Tradition holds at this annual event that partygoers dress a la the 1950s, making it a throw-back fashion scene as much as a night of schmoozing.
Guests can enjoy bottomless martinis and select their favorite artist-created martini glass from a vast array of creative offerings.
Chairs Jennifer LeGrand and Ashley Wehrly and honorary chairs Jay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones expect a playful crowd intent on serious partying.
Tickets priced from $65 include that one-of-a-kind martini glass. Details: 713-529-4848, ext. 202.
* Dancing With the Houston Stars, Sept. 24
We know for certain that Phoebe Tudor has blisters on her toes and that Monsour Taghdisi and Diane Lokey Farb have been hard at it practicing for their three minutes on the dance floor with their partners, veterans of Houston Ballet, for this high-spirited dance competition benefiting the Ballet.
John and Becca Cason Thrash open their home for this unusual event, Becca's brainchild, and cover their vast indoor pool as a dance floor. And what fun that the guests get to vote on the winner. It's a challenge that has contestants Pat Burk and Lynn Wyatt also on a heavy practice schedule. These five are very competitive and you can bet than none of them wants to score anything less than the top spot.
Tickets begin at $1,000 for great room dining or $2,000 if you want to schmooze in the elegant pool room where the competition takes place. Details: 713-523-6300.
* The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Grand Gala Ball, Oct. 1
If you have the dinero, this is one not to be missed any year for the rubbing-elbows opportunity with the city's true blue bloods. But this year holds special allure due to the ball's emphasis on the MFAH's permanent collection and director Peter Marzio's personal favorites among the works.
The event is already proving so popular that chairs Carol and Mike Linn report a whopping $1 million committed and invitations have yet to be mailed.
Patrons will dine in the museum among some of the institution's most valuable works of art including pieces by Franz Kline, Hans Hoffman, Willem de Koonig, Adolph Gottlieb and the monumental Frank Stella painting, Damascus Gate (Stretch Variation III), prominently displayed in Cullinan Hall. Who needs party decor with those works and the massive Alexander Calder mobile that will be suspended from the ceiling above the bar?
Tickets begin at $750 but count on the top guns to pay a minimum $2,000 per person and up to $5,000 per person for premium seating. Details: 713-639-7523.
* A True Blue Evening, Oct. 2
With the Houston Police Foundation as beneficiary, the men and women in blue turn out in force with all of their toys (everything from laser weapons to Breathalyzers) for this annual dinner al fresco at the River Oaks spread of Paige and Tilman Fertitta. Police helicopters overhead, police on horseback on the vast grounds, various police vehicles with flashing lights contribute to the very real excitement. It's a scene that looks like a major disturbance to uninformed passers-by.
Last year, the evening included a "kidnapping" and recovery by the SWAT team. This year's invitation promises another surprise at 7:30 p.m. Don't be late.
Key players including the Fertittas, who chair, are honorary chairs Bobbie and John Nau and dinner chair Laura Ward. The theme is "Blue Hawaii" and as the invitation states, "No jackets allowed." Blue heaven for those who don't like dressing up for parties.
Tickets start at $500. Details 713-651-3122.
* March of Dimes Signature Chefs, Oct. 7
Amateur foodies won't want to miss this stellar evening of grazing through the sampling stations and wine stations at the Westin Galleria from a dozen of the city's celebrated chefs. Lead chef Randy Evans of Haven oversees the edibles while event chairs Debra Grierson and Julie Oliver take on the actual party plans. Guests will be seated for a special dessert presentation.
Look for honorees Alex Brennan-Martin, Millette and Haag Sherman and Susan Denson to be part of the cocktail-attired crowd. And don't miss the after-party at Gigi's Asian Bistro & Dumpling Bar.
($250 sold out) $500. Details: 713-964-5413.
* Society for the Performing Arts Yelloween, Oct. 22
No need to dress to impress on this evening, it's all about releasing your inner demons or channeling your favorite character when Veuve Cliquot and Belvedere Vodka host what promises to be a wild and woolly bash at Hotel ZaZa. And SPA benefits.
This party began two years ago in the River Oaks home of Laura and John Spalding (this year's honorary chairs) but has grown beyond the limits of even their personal ballroom. With the move to the museum district, Maria and Neil Bush will chair with the aid of co-chair Claire Cormier Thielke.
Tickets begin at $125. Details: 713-632-8103.
* The Bash: A Halloween Happening, Oct. 30
This is another opportunity for stepping completely out of character and addressing your wildest fantasy — on this night at The Corinthian where United Cerebral Palsy throws its annual costume contest party.
Newie and Mark Brinker oversee this evening of supping at various Jackson & Co. hors d'oeuvres stations, dancing to the sounds of Skyrocket and checking out the Halloween costumes which traditionally have been over the top.
Tickets start at $150. Details: 713-838-9050, ext. 304.
* Catwalk for a Cure, Nov. 4
Fashionistas won't want to miss this opportunity to see renowned designer Carolina Herrera in person and to view her Spring 2011 collection on the runway at the Westin Oaks Hotel.
Chairs of the luncheon benefiting the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation, Kara Howes and Melissa Mithoff are over the moon with the designer's appearance, compliments of fashion show sponsor Saks Fifth Avenue.
Tickets begin at $250. Details: email@example.com.
* Orange Show Gala, Nov. 6
This is the grandaddy of Houston costume parties, the one night of the year in which to indulge your personal fantasy, to release your inner wicked one, to party with abandon. We love this event for its amazing people-watching, as even the most conservative citizens step out in mischievous mode.
In a whacky switch of locations, the party moves to the Finger Furniture Co. building on the Gulf Freeway where the "Kaleidoscope" theme will be interpreted in typical zany Orange Show style and god only knows what kind of costuming will follow.
Gallery owner Franny Koelsch chairs the benefit that includes a seated dinner and entertainment by War.
Tickets start at $500. Details: 713-926-6368.
* Celebrity Paws Gala, Nov. 20
If you love interacting with cats and dogs, you're going to have a blast at the annual benefit for Citizens for Animal Protection. Each year, 10 four-legged creatures (with their owners in tow) take the spotlight in the Celebrity Pet of the Year contest.
There'll be plenty of barking, the occasional pooper-scooper action and loads of animal fun in the Hilton Americas-Houston. A number of guests bring their Fidos in addition to the contestants.
Animal pals Patti Murphy and Julie Brown chair the black-tie dinner evening. Among the star-studded pet owners competing for top do honors are Edward Sanchez, Melissa King, jeweler Franco Valobra, Jared Lang and Susan Krohn.
Tickets begin at $250. Details: 713-781-6554.