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Party Scene

The Party: Accompanied by a drummer and decked out in Yoruba garb, complete with a mask of white shells, Atlanta-based scholar-artist Fahamu Pecou led a procession from the Maritime Center to the Halsey Institute, where crowds gathered for the opening of his exhibit, “Do or Die: Affect, Ritual, Resistance.” The exhibit, which is on display through October 8, explores black culture, with hip-hop references and nods to West African roots. In the packed Halsey gallery, attendees craned their necks and munched on hors d‘oeuvres while waiting for a chance to catch a glimpse of the artist’s gorgeous figure paintings.

Highlights: A graffiti print referencing the late Jean-Michel Basquiat on the entrance wall of the exhibit

Overheard: “I practice Yoruba, so it’s always good to see it represented. I like that people are open-minded to the culture—it helps break barriers.”

August 9, 2016

The Party: Lowcountry AIDS Services teamed up with Charleston Pride and MedExpress Pharmacy to host this Gay Bingo event, featuring entertainment by Camp Queen of the Carolinas, Patti O‘ Furniture, and music by DJ BeckDanger. Memminger Auditorium was transformed into a funky bingo hall, playing to the evening’s theme, ”That 70s Bingo: It’s Not Your Grandma’s Game!” Guests snacked on sweet and savory treats from BKeD bakery and cooled down with icy SnoBar cocktails before playing six games of bingo. The event was part of Charleston Pride Week, and raised awareness and funds for Lowcountry AIDS Services. 

Highlights: Patti O’Furniture had the crowd belly-laughing and cheering during her lip-sync performances. 

Overheard: ”Just a reminder to stay hydrated—visit the bar!”— Patti O’ Furniture 

Beneficiary: Lowcountry AIDS Services 

August 12, 2016

The Party: This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Abby’s Friends Golf Tournament and Evening Gala, an event started by Kendall Sutterlin, whose daughter Abby suffers from Type 1 diabetes. The day-long golf tournament and post black-and-white themed fete raised money and awareness for this disease. Guests bid high for coveted live auction items, including a luxurious getaway donated by Tuscan Resort for a seven-night stay in a two bedroom villa in the ancient Italian town of Manciano. 

Highlight: Abby and her friends were in attendance and 

Overheard:

Beneficiary: Abby’s Friends 

 

June 12, 2016

The Party: Guests celebrated the conclusion of the Spoleto Festival USA 2016 season beneath a clear blue sky at Middleton Plantation. Sprawled out on blankets, lawn chairs, beach recliners, and even a pizza float, attendees made themselves comfortable as they sipped cocktails from High Wire’s signature Hat Trick gin and listened to tunes from popular local acts The High Divers, Jordan Igoe, and SUSTO. The gardens, blooming with lush greenery, welcomed families, couples, and kids to get lost in the historic antebellum property. As the afternoon faded into dusk, Nathaniel Ratecliff & the Night Sweats took the stage, matching the crowds enthusiastic energy with every note. 

Highlight: Spoleto Festival 2016 went out with a bang, literally, as celebratory fireworks exploded across the sky. 

Overheard: ”I could totally be one of the Night Sweats!”—a festivalgoer joked about the stifling afternoon heat.

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

May 7, 2016

The Party: Sixty-three teams from Charleston and the surrounding area participated in the ninth annual Dragon Boat Charleston Festival, raising more than $180,000 for cancer survivors. Each team consisted of 20 paddlers and one drummer and raced in three heats between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Between races, paddlers enjoyed food truck fare from Wild Wieners, King of Pops, Triple R Brisket Wagon, Happy Thai Food Truck, Carolina Corn, and Charleston Chicken. The party lasted well into the early evening as festival-goers hula-hooped, line-danced, and ordered up at the ”name your own price” margarita bar. The Folly Beach Wahines took home first place overall, the PGF Paddlers took home second place, and the SCPA Ship Happens finished in third. 

Highlight: Executive director Meagan Labriola announced that the survivor ceremony would be renamed ”To the Spirit of Sylvia Suvivor Celebration” to honor the memory of Dragon Boat Charleston legend, Syvlia Huskey, who passed away in April 2016.  

Overheard: ”Watch out for ’What the Truck’!” —A paddler leapt out of the way of the fun committee’s decked-out golf cart, aptly named, ”What the Truck.”

Beneficiary: Dragon Boat Charleston 

May 7, 2016

The Party: The South Carolina Aquarium hosted a special celebration highlighting its educational programs that reach more than 30,000 school children statewide each year. After cocktails in and outside the aquarium, guests moved to Liberty Square, where they enjoyed a multi-course dinner from Cru Catering. An InterTech Group awards ceremony honored the work of seven South Carolina schoolteachers, along with Beth Demas, the aquarium’s distance-education programs coordinator. Beverly Wise, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, accepted the 2016 Environmental Stewardship Award for Visionary STEM Leadership. An after-affair followed on the Bluestone patio, with dessert and music from 17 South. 

Highlight: During cocktail hour, guests got up-close-and-personal with several aquarium creatures—from jellyfish in a portable tank to a baby alligator and two snakes. 

Overheard: “King Louis is nonvenomous and native to South Carolina. You can often tell if a snake is nonvenomous because it’ll have a smaller head. This guy’s a good one to have in your garden—he’ll eat other snakes.” —Jamie Thom, aquarium education staff member 

Beneficiary: More than $268,000 was raised for the South Carolina Aquarium’s education programs.

May 14, 2016

The Party: Beneath a sizzling summer sun, guests meandered through The Grove at Patriot’s Point for a day of eating, drinking, and dancing at the fifth annual Charleston Beer Garden for Lowcountry AIDS Services. Food trucks—including Avila Venezuelan Cuisine, The Barbeque Joint, Caribbean Creole, and Big-Boned Barbeque—circled the park. The main attrractions, of course, were the 20-some regional breweries serving guests cold three-ounce samples. As crowds sipped their beer, they swayed along to the music of DJ Trail Mix, King Sing, Andy Masker Band, and The Dubplates.

Highlight: Local homebrewers gathered in the Homebrewer’s Village, proudly offering samples of their unique beers to a crowd of thirsty guests; several competed in a homebrewing competition. 

Overheard (a lot): “Cheers!”

Beneficiary: Lowcountry AIDS Services

May 27, 2016

The Party: Memorial Waterfront Park served as the scenic backdrop for the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association’s Taste of Gullah event. Attendees indulged in Gullah-inspired dishes such as savory stewed chicken, pan-made crab cakes, and Hoppin’ John while the Secrets Band cranked out an array of lively classics. Later, Gullah Geechee expert Emory Campbell addressed the crowd before a special ”Passing on the Traditions” ceremony took place. Attendees also participated in a live auction and bid on beautiful items such as the 2016 Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival featured basket by Helen Burns and a treasured “Passing on the Traditions” doll by Virginia Watson.

Highlight: An Afrocentric fashion show highlighted Gullah fashions and sweetgrass accessories. 

Overheard: “Can I have a second helping?”

Beneficiary: 2016 Sweetgrass Basket-Making Summer Camp

May 13th, 2016

The Party: Donning glittery gowns and dashing suits, guests mingled over canapés and cocktails before moving into the Charleston Area Convention Center ballroom for a dinner, a live auction, and an evening of great performances. Local celebrities, paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studio, vied for the winning title. Event chairs and alumni dancers also performed while votes were tallied bakstage. Kathy Richter Downey, co-founder of social club McKee's at 139B, took home the sparkling disco ball trophy as the 2016 Oxygen Ball winner.

Highlight: The crowd went wild when Dwayne M. Green and his dance partner, Galina Maiduc, performed "The Charleston.”

Overheard: “I’d like to tell my competitors, ‘Don’t do well and let me do better!’” —Kathy Richter Downey, before taking the stage

Beneficiary: American Lung Association 

May 19, 2016

The Party: Bourbon-lovers and cigar aficionados came together for a luxurious evening of food, fundraising, and plenty of drink-sipping at the historic William Aiken house. The event raised money for Maryland-based non-profit Positive-Strides.org, an organziation that advocates, educates, and supports injured youth athletes and their families.

Highlight: Guests sported all manner of bow tie styles—from peacock and pheasant feathers to rustic carved wood. 

Overheard: ”You wouldn’t think to put bacon and cake together but these (chocolate bacon cake pops) are amazing!”

Benefeciary: Positive-Strides.org

 

May 21, 2016

 

The Party: A week before the Gibbes Museum of Art’s grand reopening, locals and featured artists gathered to celebrate the beautiful top-to-bottom renovation and restoration, including the sparkling Tiffany-style glass dome and century-old original tile floors. At the beginning of the evening, guests were treated to a curator-led tour of the various galleries (including one of the largest miniature portrait collections in the country) and the artists’ studios. Attendees were then seated in the Fellows Member Reception Hall for a (far shorter) but sweet perfomance of Porgy and Bess, featuring music by pianist Lydia Brown and operatic sopranos Alyson Cambridge (who plays Bess in Spoleto Festival USA’s production) and Indra Thomas (who plays Serena). Dinner was served in the Campbell Rotunda, followed by dessert and dancing, with live entertainment provided by Julep Jazz Band. 

Highlight: Jonathan Green, who is responsible for the artistic vision and design behind Spoleto Festival USA’s production of Porgy and Bess, was in attendance.

Overheard: “It’s a story that will bring you to absolute tears.”—museum member discussing the Charleston-born opera 

Beneficiary: Gibbes Museum of Art

The Party: Guests popped a cork for Spoleto Festival USA's 40th season in The Dewberry, the hotel overlooking Marion Square. After the Spoleto 40th Season Celebration Concert, partygoers made their way into the renovated mid-century building described by owner John Dewberry as “Southern reimagined.” These Spoleto patrons glided through the sparkling sheens of the elegant ballroom, lobby, patio, and lounge while toasting the arts festival with champagne and Spoleto-inspired cocktails like the vodka-based “Spoleto Spritz.”

Highlight: The soirée was the first event to be held in the hotel, making attendees part of an exclusive group. With The Dewberry’s grand opening not scheduled until June 9, the hotel had to receive specific certification to host the festival bash for the night.

Overheard: “It’s more than just a hotel. It’s a vision.”

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

The Party: “Let it grow, let it grow” seemed to be the motto for the 7th annual Southeastern Beard and Moustache Championship hosted by the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society at Music Farm. Companies such as Wild Hare Jack-A-Lope, Roughneck Beard Co., One DTQ, The Mail Room Barber Co., and more set up booths to sell oils and beard balms for styling and taming wild whiskers. Beard growers and partygoers from all over the country came together for a night of friendly (and hairy!) competition.

Highlight: Eric Schmitt-Matzen, otherwise known as “Santa”, stole the show when he won the Salty Dog category—“a gray beard of distinguished mature gentlemen.”

Overheard: “Raise your glass, for members are strong, and whiskers are long!” 

Beneficiary: Lowcountry Women with Wings and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charleston  

May 12, 2016

The Party: For the seventh annual Gibbes on the Street party, guests were transported to the heart of China’s Forbidden City, where 27 top area restaurants served inventive small bites including dishes like octopus kimchi, kung pao chicken, and crab fried rice. Partygoers crowded the street in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art for this year’s sold-out event, donning all manner of Eastern-themed apparel. All proceeds from the event benefit the Gibbes, which reopens May 28 after nearly two years of renovations.

Highlight: Taiko Charleston drummers beat wildly on their drums as a “dragon” snaked and swerved through the crowded street. 

Overheard: “You're my hero!”—guests were star-struck when they realized that top chefs like Sean Brock, Michelle Weaver, and Jacques Larson were serving their own dishes. 

Beneficiary: The Gibbes Museum of Art 

April 28, 2016

The Party: Spoleto SCENE (Support Connect Experience Network Enjoy) is an arts-loving group of Spoleto Festival USA patrons in their 20s and 30s who support the Festival through affordable gift levels. SCENE hosted a Spoleto season kick-off party feauturing numerous local vendors and popular deejay, DJ Rehab. Guests sipped on cocktails from Bar Mash, The Westendorff, The Rooftop at Vendue, and Cathead Vodka, and enjoyed hors d'ouevres from Bohemian Bull, Hamby Catering, Poogan’s Smokehouse, The Drawing Room, and Cirsea Ice Cream.  

Highlight: Networking was made enjoyable as partygoers congregated around food and drink vendors and met new acquaintances through co-workers and friends. 

Overheard:  I better see you on the dance floor!” 

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

The Party: The Sophia Institute, a center of learning founded 15 years ago by Carolyn Rivers, provides programs and retreats that promote wisdom and mindfulness for a more sustainable world. The center hosted Ellen Burstyn, beloved Acadaemy Award-winning actress, advocate, and storyteller, for a talk followed by a garden reception and book signing. Burstyn shared several stories and poems that touched upon ideas of human potential, empathy, honesty, integrity, and forgiveness. After the talk, audience members were invited to participate in a Q & A session. A reception in the green space adjacent to Memminger Auditorium followed; guests enjoyed wine from Mira Winery and hors d'oeuvres from Fork Catering. 

Highlight: Burstyn signed copies of her book, Lessons in Becoming Myself, and chatted with gleeful admirers. 

Overheard: “It’s funny that this has gotten to be the place where I bring my lessons.”—Burstyn on her love of the Sophia Institute and the city of Charleston. 

Beneficiary: The Sophia Institute

By Hooper Schultz

The Party: An enthusiastic crowd gathered on a beautiful day to celebrate Lowcountry Local First's biggest fundraiser of the year, the 9th annual Chef's Potluck. More than 20 local chefs—including Craig Deihl of Cypress and Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh—served up small plates for hungry attendees, using ingredients graciously donated by Lowcountry farmers. Guests sipped drinks from purveyors such as Firefly Distillery, Palmetto Brewing, Grassroots Wine Wholesalers, COAST Brewing, and Cannonborough Beverage Co. After the feast, Lowcountry Local First staff led a charity auction that raised $10,000 for the organization's Growing New Farmers progam.  

Highlight: The Garage Cuban Band, led by bassist and frontman Jonathan Gray, entertained guests all afternoon. 

Overheard: “Wow, the best weather on the best day. And a strawberry-bourbon milkshake doesn't hurt!"—Renee Singletary 

Beneficiary: Lowcountry Local First

The Party: Memminger Auditorium was transformed into a South American oasis for the 19th annual Charleston Heart Ball. For the first two hours, guests enjoyed an alfresco cocktail reception around two “tiki” bars, brightly colored tall tables, and flamingo statues. Guests were then led inside for a seated three-course dinner, served by catering company Mosaic. WCBD News 2 anchors Carolyn Murray and Brendan Cark emceed the event and 2016 chairman Chris Randoph thanked guests for coming out to support the American Heart Association. Guests were given boas and hats to wear, and bidders participated in a spirited live auction for prizes including a Belize getaway, a cocktail party for 50 courtesy of Snynder Events, Mosaic Catering, and Sea Breeze Marina, a london blue topaz and diamond ring courtesy of Skatell's, and artwork from artists Karen Larson Turner, Laura Lloyd Fontaine, and Dee Beard Dean.

Highlight: The 2016 Open Your Heart honorees, Frank, Jamie, and Charles Anderson Kerr had the audience in tears as they told Charles' story. Born with a rare and complex congenital heart defect, the Kerr’s son had to undergo a six-hour surgery to save his life. Wearing a miniature tux and pink bowtie, the toddler delighted and inspired guests with his happy smile.

Overheard: “Get a picture of me with the parrot—wait, are those real?” (a surprised guest posed next to a life-like stuffed parrot inside the event). 

Beneficiary: American Heart Association