Oh, the Dance! Oh, the Pants!
We arrived at the Capital Club's "Summer Sinatra Soiree" Thursday in the Galleria at Lafayette Centre to find 1,000 tanned and toned young Washingtonians dancing, drinking, and sneaking peeks at Jenna and Barbara Bush.
The first daughters disappeared before we had a chance to see if they were behaving themselves, so we turned our attention to the other stars of the night: Ugly Pants. Like the aqua seahorses swimming up and down the legs of 21-year-old Tyler Boyd. "They're Lilly Pulitzer," he said happily. "Frat-tastic party pants." The event that started 12 years ago as a black-tie tribute to the Rat Pack has evolved into a yacht-clubby night full of colorful summer garb -- flirty dresses for the gals, "creative" pants for the guys.
"Some might say ugly. Some might say very preppy," said Capital Club president Tripp Donnelly. "It's very preppy, but it's a chance for people who aren't preppy to dress preppy."
Think Republican country club with a dash of camp. Griffin Jenkins showed up in a vintage yellow-and-lime Pulitzer jacket purchased on eBay for $198. Think wearable sherbet.
This is the largest and most popular event for the nonpartisan social club, which donates proceeds to local charities. The crowd boogied to "Swing Town" until 1 a.m., then continued the festivities into the wee hours at Smith Point in Georgetown. After all, how often can you wear blue seersucker pants embroidered with red lobsters? "I believe in enthusiasm," said Martin Whitmer, pointing to his pants. "And this is enthusiasm."
Jewels in Their 'Crowns'
A new hattitude took over Washington with Thursday night's return of "Crowns" to Arena Stage. The play by Regina Taylor, which proved popular earlier this year, centers on African American women of the South who sing, dance and preach about the importance of hats in their culture. Now it's back for a second run until the end of August.
"We really saw that the tradition is so alive in D.C. of the chapeau," said Arena's Denise Schneider. "A lot of women would come right after church for the Sunday matinees."
The booming gospel music isn't the revival's only draw. Ladies show up a few minutes early to try on the vibrant, flashy toppers sold by local milliners in the lobby.
"The audience gets so wrapped up in the show that they come in here and try all the hats on," said vendor Bernice Vaughan of the Hat Lady. "I even had a little old white lady call me who wanted a lesson in which hats to wear and how to wear them."
Reaching For the Moon At the Sackler
The Sackler Gallery's reception Saturday night was all monkey business -- in the most elegant sense of the term. Thirty-six guests gathered to honor the memory of the late Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Nationalist China's charismatic unofficial ambassador, with the permanent installation of a sculpture by artist Xu Bing. "Monkeys Grasp for the Moon," made of interlocking word shapes that represent the word "monkey" in 21 languages, spans three stories in the museum's atrium.
"It is important that this piece at this time is donated" in Madame Chiang's honor, Xu said. "I hope it gets people thinking that whatever people's culture or beliefs, they need to work together."
With Laura Thomas