Saturday night might have been a good night to cozy up next to a fire with your favorite book, but not for the 1,100 happy souls who showed up for the second annual Bartender's Ball.
Washington's restaurant community sponsored the ball to raise money for the Leukemia Society of America. The organizers sold 1,300 tickets at $35 per person, and a check for $30,000 was presented yesterday to Bill Mayhew of WMAL during his all-day radiothon for leukemia.
The snow was falling heavily outside the Organization of American States building on 17th Street and Constitution Avenue, the scene of the ball, as the guests began arriving in rented limousines, taxis and private cars. They hurried inside to the warm tropical setting to dine from a lavish buffet of cold canapes and hot hors d'oeuvres and sip free drinks donated by 43 bars and restaurants around Washington.
Danny Marshall, the owner of Runyon's who originated the idea a year ago, stood before a wide window watching the snow and said, "We might have to move this up to July. Last year we had it on the eve of Washington's biggest snowfall and look at it now."
A young volunteer bartender working at Marigold's Restaurant booth said, "I had to walk from Dupont Circle, but I wouldn't have missed this night for anything."
A barmaid who had been working since early afternoon setting up the bar said, "I knew I was going to get here some way and I don't care how or if I ever get home."
That seemed to be the attitude of everyone as the party livened up among the people who usually work at keeping other people wined and dined.
Most of the black ties and gowns were traditional but there were a lot of people just having fun. Several tuxedo wearers preferred white sneakers, Woody Allen style, and some came in jeans and cowboys hats.
Vintage top hats were kept on by their wearers even as they danced. "Baseball" Bill Holdforth looked splendid in a powder blue tux from the "Diamond Jim" Brady era.
A rumor persisted throughout the evening that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy or a family representative would show up. There were a few young men who could have passed for a family member, but they turned out to have different names.
Early in the evening the big band sound of the '40s was provided by "New York's Widespread Depression Orchestra."
Michael Hashmin, a sax player, showed up with the "Depression" look -- a brown fedora, brown vest, and black and white winged tip shoes, all of it out of the '40s.
The second half of the evening's entertainment was provided by a group called "The Beaver Brown Band" from Providence, R.I., and Washington's own "Nard's Rock and Roll Review." Both were loud enough to fit right into the evening's merriment.
The bar set-ups keeping people happy until last call at about 2 a.m. were sent over by Marigold's, Nathan's Bullfeathers, Pawnshop, Jenkins Hill, Flaps, Chadwick's, Buck-Stops-Here and Dankers. Clyde's provided the popular raw bar.
A bust of "Articus," looking cold and solemn, stared out with vacant eyes as he shared his pedestal with a couple of highball glasses, while a slitskirted wine drinker asked, "He looks so sexy, who is it?"
And the elements did not seem to bother Ellen Edge, a barmaid at Archibald's who wore formal tails over tiny black briefs, exposing bare legs that were touched off by a garter around her left thigh with dollar bills sticking out.
"The money is going to the Leukemia Society," she said. "I wish it were a million."