Those who hold to the opinion that in the capital city the only reason to have a party is to slake the thirst of members of Congress have never been out in Washington in December.
While the Chronicler sleeps late to recover from the week's surfeit may be a good time for the reader to count up the multitudinous excuses for recent parties.
The Party to Honor ...: Allison LaLand, of Long & Foster, is one of the few Washington real estate agents still able not only to eat, but also to buy a drink for someone else. LaLand gave a reception at the Willard Hotel in honor of the debonair and very eligible bachelor Jaime de Ojeda, Spain's ambassador. (She admits to pushing the Christmas tree, conveniently on rollers, into three positions before deciding on one by the receiving line, as well as ordering in more palm trees.)
The ambassador certainly deserved such a fete after Spain paid $20 million for its new chancery on Washington Circle, purveyed by LaLand. Earlier, she sold the Spanish Embassy a lot on Foxhall Road for a residence, because the previous ambassador thought Meridian Hill was no place to rear children. However, de Ojeda, who has only himself and his guests to worry about, is rightly delighted with the Beaux-Arts 16th Street residence.
Amongst the 100 guests feeling very Beaux-Arts themselves in the ornate Crystal Room were Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; social consultant Maggie Wimsatt, introducing around the new Watergate managing director, Ibrahim Fahmy; 15 foreign ambassadors (and, praise Heaven, Patrick Daly of State Department protocol to whisper who was from where); Meridian House Director William Cutler; USIA Director Bruce S. Gelb; and CIA Director William H. Webster and his bride, Linda. Judging by all the very fancy and often bare cocktail dresses, every woman must have called up and asked LaLand what she was going to wear. Did no one but the Chronicler come directly from the office?
The All That Glitters Is Not Gold Reception: The National Gallery of Art gave a reception for the Corning Museum of Glass show "The Art of Glass" amid the plants in the atrium of the East Building. This was one party where the glasses the guests were staring into were not all filled with spirituous beverages.
The great treat at all National Gallery affairs is not only gazing at the treasures, but also listening to the experts discuss the fine slivers of the subject.
Priscilla Houghton and husband, Rep. Amory Houghton Jr., a trustee of the Corning Museum and a member of the glassworks family, stood in line with J. Carter Brown, National Gallery director. Paul Gardner, the retired Smithsonian glass expert and author of a book on master glass maker Frederick Carder, compared notes with Paul Perrot, former director of the Corning, now director of the Virginia Museum in Richmond. Perrot and his preservation activist wife, Joanne, told friends that he's leaving the Virginia Museum next year.
The Channel Crosses Both Ways Party: The Washington branch of the English-Speaking Union normally counts British Ambassador Sir Antony Acland and Lady Acland as their perpetual honorees. But this year, surprise! the guests of honor were French Ambassador Jacques Andreani and his consort, Donatella Andreani. The Aclands came anyway to the historic DACOR-Bacon House on 18th and F streets NW.
Richard Hubbard Howland, president of this branch of the English-Speaking Union explained that the occasion celebrated "two significant Anglo-French links: the meeting of the International Council of the English-Speaking Union in Paris -- and the meeting of the first two sections of the English Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, between England and France."
Happy Birthday to You Party: The 81st birthday of Jacob Kainen, the grandmaster of Washington artists, was fittingly celebrated at Le Pavillon -- quick, before it closes. Ruth Kainen, known as the town's most adept Wife of the Artiste, a profession with arduous activity and remarkable recompense, turned the ceiling of the private dining room into a sky of silver clouds. Kainen admirers unabashedly floated home with the helium-filled balloons.
Grand Hotel, the Cast Party: After seeing the glistening Palast with its immense dancing staff on the stage at the Kennedy Center, you'd think most hotel keepers would be shy about inviting comparison. Not the indefatigable Bettye Bradley, chef concierge, nor Samir Darwich, general manager, nor Joseph Yazbeck, owner of -- you guessed it -- Grand Hotel. The chosen audience hummed its way over to M Street.
People applauded, people stared when Tommy Tune, the producer and choreographer of the delightful and depraved musical of antebellum Berlin, made his entrance. The skyscraping dancer, resplendent in white tie and tails, escorted Liliane Montevecchi, the star who plays a star ballerina in the musical. Montevecchi, several feet shorter but no less glamorous, wore a black hat, one of her collection. So bedecked, it was no wonder the two spurned the champagne offered and requested (firmly but politely) French bubbly. Bradley had one frantic moment when she worried if she could find a winery open. Luckily, room service came to the rescue. As for Enchanting Moments, Victoria Regan and Arte Phillips, who had danced their way through every other moment of the two-hour musical, actually danced -- for pleasure -- in the middle of the Grand Hotel (the place, not the musical).