The NSO Ball,Coming Up Roses

Let's call the 42nd National Symphony Orchestra Ball a feast for the senses. The theme was provided by Colombia, which gave the event Latin sounds, sights, tastes and the most delicious aromas. "This is one of the few events where you can smell it before you see it," said co-chair David Cole.

On Friday night the National Building Museum was filled with 20,000 Colombian roses--red, cream, coral, pink, yellow and blush--huge, lush bouquets that covered every table with a delicate perfume.

Colombian dancers, a poncho-clad "Juan Valdez," the art of Fernando Botero and a performance of the folk music featured in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" provided a colorful and lively background for one of Washington's most formal events.

"It's a chance to show the Colombia that is seldom seen in the news," said Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno. "That's why Juan Valdez is a good touch."

It's been more than a decade since a Latin American country sponsored the party, and the Eqipo Orchestra from Miami kept the dance floor full with more than 1,100 guests doing the salsa, merengue and variations thereof. You really haven't lived until you've seen Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dancing to "Mambo No. 5." Others spotted swiveling their hips: FBI Director Louis Freeh, Veterans Affairs Secretary Togo West, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, Kennedy Center Chair Jim Johnson, Capitals owners Ted Leonsis and Jonathan Ledecky, legal eagles Vernon Jordan and Kenneth Starr, and a beribboned bunch of ambassadors wearing all those cute decorations that go so well with white tie and tails.

The guests filtered out around midnight, all looking like bridesmaids clutching handfuls of roses that were too beautiful to leave behind. Hard to resist that Latin charm, you know.

A Well-Outfitted Scholarship Luncheon

The National Coalition of 100 Black Women was more than slightly expanded yesterday when some 500 people jammed into Martin's Crosswinds in Greenbelt for the Fifth Annual Fashion Show and Scholarship Luncheon.

The local chapter, now in its 10th year, helps send three students to college each year. "The Road to Success" program ended with a sashay down the runway, with models including Sarah Holley, prepping above, donning beautiful clothes all in the name of a good cause.

Tree's Company

The holiday party season kicked off Wednesday night at the Willard Inter-Continental, where a big Christmas tree, a bell choir, groaning buffets and a tiny grinning boy lit up the night. Henry Goldberg, above, with hotel General Manager Jean-Jacques Reibel, hit the switch that illuminated the tree. The Potomac School's bell choir performed for the 700 guests: "We do Christmas songs and we do Hanukah songs for diversity," said eighth-grader Jessica Zunzer-Whitaker. The party was a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps kids with life-threatening illnesses and had sent 4-year-old Henry on a trip to Disney World.