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Tristan, Sunday, May 24

“Merry Christmas,” Merrill Benfield greeted us after we walked into Tristan’s main dining room from the entry, where we chatted briefly with a tired but satisfied looking chef Aaron Deal, who had just wrapped up a private dinner upstairs for the members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Merry Christmas…eh? Elisabeth and I felt like we’d just stepped into the middle of an inside joke, since we arrived about an hour and some change late to Lawson Roberts’ party for the troop after a late curtain dropped on Don John (by the way, if you haven’t managed to get your hands on tickets to the show, steal from your grandmother if you have to, but by all means don’t miss it). Merry Christmas? “We’ve been on Merrill’s boat for the Rolls club,” explained Todd White, who visits Merrill about once a year from his vineyard, Napa Valley Farms, in St. Helena California. “There’s been a slow drip of alcohol all day,” he continued. “The drip has just been faster for some.”

Nearby we ran into Mitchell Crosby. “Have you met Juan Carlos and Gerald yet? You must meet them. They just moved here from New York and bought a house on Pitt Street and they’re characters.”

When has Mitchell ever steered us wrong? So we set out to meet Juan Carlos Tamarit and Gerald Dabbs, who have indeed just moved here from New York (and the Hamptons, and Provence, and I can’t remember where else). “We’re having an impromptu Memorial Day lunch for about 70 tomorrow,” Juan Carlos said. “You have to come.”

We got to talk for awhile with Alvin Ailey’s Yusha-Marie Sorazo, who, having grown up in Miami, has been enjoying Charleston’s humidity (seriously, she has been). She raved about dinner at Tristan and about the Charleston food scene in general (dancers, unlike models, really do eat, it appears). She’s also appreciated Charleston’s other charms, and vows to get back down here as soon as possible when she’s not punching the timeclock.

Our host, Lawson, who was milling about the room, paused long enough for me to shoot his picture with Yusha and other members of the troop. Then we talked for a bit with Julianne and George Khoury. Julianne was looking relaxed and in good spirits after chairing Saturday evening’s gala. Which reminded us that it seemed like days since we’d slept, so we decided to call it a night before the next round of parties, starting with Mitchell Crosby’s after party for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet this coming Saturday. See you there.

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