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What do young entrepreneurs, belly dancers, and gravity-defying cakes have in common? All three made quite an impression at YESCarolina’s incredible Moroccan-themed benefit, Casablanca After Hours.

The Memminger Auditorium had been transformed into a vibrant, exotic tour of the senses. The tantalizing scent of Moroccan hors d'oeuvres wafted throughout the festively decorated hall, where a glamorous crowd studied the silent auction items, listened to the beautiful sound of local jazz vocalist Ann Caldwell, and gathered around Elaine Mincey’s mind-blowing, suspended magic carpet cake.

The party really got started when the College of Charleston Belly Dance Troupe took to the floor, however. It was nearly impossible to tear your eyes from the exotic moves and brilliant costumes, and dancer Sydney Pratt even balanced a sword on her chin while dropping to the floor.

A delicious three-course meal of spiced sweet potatoes, kabobs, and couscous gave way to more belly dancing, mingling, and a presentation by Jimmy Bailey of YESCarolina’s local young entrepreneurs. The students each presented their business plans, ranging from Johnny Owens’ Country Kids Cookies to Ashley Sease’s fashion line focusing on serving women of all sizes. Especially notable was Hunter Dean, whose business plan centers around a filter which allows diesel engines to convert vegetable oil to fuel. “I was interested in the environment before it was cool!” Dean said.

The silent auction drew to a close as guests finished their desserts, but few people seemed ready to head out into the night. People lingered over glasses of wine or danced between the tables, but eventually the fabulous gala drew to a close.

Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina (YESCarolina) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing students to be tomorrow’s business owners. YESCarolina believes that South Carolina’s future is dependent upon a strong entrepreneurial economy, and they have helped thousands of young people from all socio-economic backgrounds build business skills statewide.

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