YouthAIDS Gala: A Charity Event for DC’s Celebrity-Starved Souls (funds raised but also eyebrows)

So on Friday evening, my dance group had the huge privilege of performing at the 2007 YouthAIDS Gala at the Ritz-Carlton (where indeed, the term “ritzy” comes from).

Anyway, it was a pretty up-and-up A-list social event for DC. I’m not trying to brag, but ok yes I am. They even airdropped in more realer celebrities (i.e., actresses and rock stars) like Ashley Judd and Bono (you can only airdrop women or smallish men because of new TSA requirements). But DC’s own A-list such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Johnson (cofounder of BET) and her hubby, and AOL megatron Ted Leonsis were also there.

The theme of the night was “Faces of India” with the dress attire themed ‘Hollywood Meets Bollywood’ so there was a lot of maharajah-esque type décor including a gigantic colorful blow-up elephant outside the hotel (ta-wing! that was the sound of the last stop being pulled out).

Here was what the inside ballroom looked like:

Getting ready to dunce—

Our dancing was done on a wooden disco-type dance floor in the middle of the dining room as people were coming in to be seated for the dinner and live auction. We danced to a DJ Rekha song at the end of our medley, and apparently she was standing right next to the stage and watching it. That’s somewhat satisfying to know.

FYI, people are pretty nice at the Ritz-Carlton, including all the banquet staff. I got a bevy of “good evening, madam”s all evening up until 2am wherein it changed to a pensive “good morning, madam” and doors were held open all over the place and elevator assistance and life advice, etc. They were also handing out free turbans and bindis (forehead dots if you don’t know).

I think I have bad celebrity sighting skills though because I hadn’t seen anyone by the middle of the night, and meanwhile some of my compadres had shared an elevator and a mini convo with Ashley Judd about whether she was wearing her saree properly; snapped a pic with DJ Rekha; located Bono; eyed Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, Miss India 2007 Puja Gupta, and Canadian comedian Russell Peters; both spread and later disconfirmed the rumor that major Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was there; and all the while availing themselves freely of the open bar (honestly, is there a level above open? because they had pomegranate liqueur for sobbing out loud).

After our dance, which went over well considering the hullabaloo going on everywhere, there was some speaking and then Gala co-chairs Sheila Johnson and her husband, the Hon. Bill Newman, came in seated on a bicycle rickshaw being pulled by an ethnically ambiguous man. Our dance group was supposed to come in dancing behind them to create the appearance of fanfare I’m guessing, but then there was no music so how can one be expected to dance behind moving vehicles without music? So we sort of all stopped and stared. And then I spotted the back of Nancy Pelosi’s head and got distracted.

Ashley Judd actually gave a really moving speech about her experience traveling to India including a shout out to my friends about the elevator run-in. Then Bono came up and called Ashley a real firecracker of a woman or a firebrand or something fiery which I found a little weird because of the whole California wildfires thing and the fact that he was supposed to be presenting an award to California congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, but you know what they say in Hollywood, “It’s ok. It was Bono.”

La Judd!

El Bono!

Atit wanting to dance with La Judd’s back! The man on the left has the best facial expression that I’ve ever seen.

We had a buffet dinner set up in our dressing room which was the delicious kind of rich-people food that you can only eat in small amounts but you must exclaim after eating something “goo!” Each pat of butter had the Ritz-Carlton symbol imprinted on it. Yes, it didn’t escape me that the levels of money surrounding the event were in stark contrast to the cause being supported but that’s society for you. If you’re unfamiliar, I bring to your attention social stratification 101.

After the live auction, one of the auctioneers (they all wore bowler hats and red vests, hard to miss) took the time to compliment one of my fellow dancing friends on her mad skills several times over. Apparently, her moves spoke to him (he said “you all were good. But she was…she was something else”). It went from complimentary to creepy in 30 seconds.

Overall, it was quite the night. Here are some pictures from the afterparty, which was held in what looked like an old library (rad). They also had the fanciest chocolates there. I think someone in our group broke a glass as we were being the most raucous dancers on the floor. It got a little insane.

fancy chocolate 1

fancy chocolate 2

fancy fountain

fancy dog painting in library nightclub

you know it’s fun when things are blurry

i refer you to the last caption


looking directly at a camera is like looking at the sun. all these poor girls went blind shortly after this picture was taken.

the visual definition of ‘having a good time’

this is actually 4 different photos cropped together and my gaptooth is getting its moment in the sun!

dj rekha spinning the hits. my favorite thing about her dj booth is she’s in front of an oil painting of an old british fox hunt. tally ho!

did I mention there was dancing?

posing with celebrities makes your eyes turn red

My favorite incident was the fact that a certain well-dressed gentleman (this is a vague descriptor as it accounts for most of the men there, but eh) had taken an interest in one of my friends, and took it upon himself to talk to her at several points throughout the night. Finally, at the end of the night, he gave her his card and gallantly strode off as gentlemen are apt to do. He was a little bit older so we weren’t sure what to make of the incident until we all got a good look at his card, and he turns out to be the Executive VP of a huge company. Um. Wow. That’s one number I might keep on hand. I’m just saying!

We got gift bags too, which weighed a good 7 pounds each and contained happy things like gift cards and soaps and coffee and other exotic wares like mini Luna bars and social-cause wristbands (*shudder*).

Well, back to reality. And Monday.

All photos courtesy of Vikas, Kulbir, Annie, Anjani, Pushpa, and Amit.

7 thoughts on “YouthAIDS Gala: A Charity Event for DC’s Celebrity-Starved Souls (funds raised but also eyebrows)

  1. Aparna says:

    martin — a league of my own. thank ye thank ye.snb — thank ye thank ye.sillary — it was damn pun, buddy!winyan — we will dunce together!

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