The Message in a Bottle: Party!

Modern-day Cinderellas were in a quandary Wednesday night: Should they leave before midnight to get a decent night's sleep, or stay for the Beaujolais Nouveau party at Les Halles?

More than 450 Cinderellas and Prince Charmings partied into the wee hours Thursday at the Pennsylvania Avenue brasserie to sample this year's vintage of the red wine, which is flown in from France for the annual event and cannot--by French law--be uncorked until the third Thursday of November.

"Five, four, three, two, one!" the crowd counted as the clock struck midnight. Mayor Tony Williams struggled to open the first cask, took a sip, then pronounced the wine "wonderful." Let's call it a diplomatic response.

"If you drink wine on a regular basis, this is not a very good wine," said Jeremy Shimewald, a public affairs officer at the Israeli Embassy.

But this multinational crowd didn't really come for the fine bouquet. Night owls such as master chefs Michel Richard, Jean-Louis Palladin and Todd English, hairdresser Christophe and sportscaster Darrian Chapman came for the fun, the fraternite, the frolicking. "This is home away from home," said French native Sophie Coudert, a hairstylist in Georgetown. "Europeans work hard and play hard."

The party broke up about 3, after 50 cases of the wine had been consumed. "Frankly, the beaujolais was less than desired," said Roman Velikson, a loan officer for a bank. "But the party was better."

Raising a Toast to High-Tech Hopes

That buzz you heard Friday night at the Washington Hilton was the sound of 750 guests at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce dinner anticipating all those big bucks moving into the District. "We need to bring technology-related jobs into the city," said Ira Goldstein, a senior partner with Arthur Andersen. "The technology business employs people who want to live in the city." Chamber President and Bell Atlantic-Washington CEO Marie Johns, bottom left, with Aspen Personnel Service's Armentha "Mike" Cruise, didn't need to convince the current mayor, who gave the keynote address. Or former mayor Marion Barry, right, with wife Cora, who looked like he was still plugged into this business crowd.

The Kidney Ball's Fund-Raising Formula

How do you raise $850,000 in one night? First, put two Lexuses and two purebred puppies in the live auction (it was hard to tell which produced the louder ohhs and ahhs); second, pick a kidney recipient who's as cute as a button; and finally, get a country singer like Wynonna Judd to bring a little bit of the South to the nation's capital.

Saturday's annual Kidney Ball, featuring the self-proclaimed "diapers by day, diva by night" Judd, far right with Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), rocked the Washington Hilton ballroom for more than an hour. "I believe that music is a healer," Wynonna said. "That's why I sing."

But the real healing was embodied by 8-year-old transplant recipient Terrance Varner, above, with, from left, grandmother Elaine Harris, kidney donor Marian Neal and event chairman Christopher Nassetta. "You can do what with your new kidney?" prompted Harris. "Anything," said the proud boy.