Things got hot — like really hot — at the 2016 Alvin Ailey opening night gala Tuesday.

After watching the dance company do its thing on stage at the Kennedy Center, about 700 guests headed upstairs for what’s become a familiar starting bell to the social season in Washington — dinner, dancing and donating. But there was a surprise at Tuesday’s fete — the temperature.

Whether the rising steam could be blamed on an uncooperative cooling system or just the palpable energy emanating from Ailey’s incredible dancers, guests couldn’t deny it. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and gala co-chair Debra Lee could be seen fanning themselves post-short rib as the temperature climbed.

“I mean I don’t want to start fanning myself,” whispered one of the company’s veteran dancers, as she grabbed a copy of the evening’s program and proceeded to do just that.

“It’s a sauna in here,” said another attendee, “it’s all anyone’s talking about.”

But despite the warmth in the dining area (or perhaps because of it), as usual, Ailey’s dancers were the first on the dance floor, kick-starting the party before the dessert course was served. And the rest of the black tie crowd followed, busting out their best moves. Then just past midnight — before turning back into Washington working stiffs — still-shimmying guests donned furs both faux and real before twirling out into the warm(ish) night air.


Star Alvin Ailey dancers Glenn Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims at the annual Alvin Ailey Gala at the Kennedy Center on Feb. 2. They are a classic theater love affair; the couple met on Glenn’s first day with the company, they dated, and were married on Alvin Ailey’s birthday. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

BET CEO and event co-chair Debi Lee moves through the post-performance party at the Alvin Ailey Gala at the Kennedy Center on Feb. 2. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

Alvin Ailey Gala co-chair Sela Collins, left, chats with Gerald and Cynthia Harvey at the Kennedy Center on Feb. 2,.(Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

Alvin Ailey dancers took to the dance floor at the Alvin Ailey Gala at the Kennedy Center on Feb. 2, to do what they do best as a rocking live band played hits from classic funk to contemporary favorites like the Whip/Nae Nae. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

Alvin Ailey company dancers Ghrai DeVore and Sean Aaron Carmon  strike a celebratory pose at the gala dinner following their Kennedy Center performance on Feb. 2. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

Fed-Ex SVP for Government Affairs and co-chair Gina Adams, left, chats with Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) at the Alvin Ailey Gala at the Kennedy Center on Feb. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, right, greets Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and his wife Laura Denise Bisogniero at the Alvin Ailey Gala at the Kennedy Center on Feb. 2. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)

After a well-received Kennedy Center performance, the Alvin Ailey dancers entered the gala to greet the guests. This year, graphic black and white looks were the trend with the young dancers, who took to the dance floor post-dinner on Feb. 2. (Kate Warren for The Washington Post)