There are certain moments when out at a New York society party that I feel an uncontrollable desire for someone to do something crazy. An impromptu strip tease. Tearing the hems of their gowns to facilitate dancing. Anything to throw the serious act of charity supporting a major curve ball.
One venue that seems to inspire this wish in me each time I enter it is the Pool Room at the Four Seasons restaurant. Like a Roman fountain, its central body of water, particularly in the evening glow of flickering lights, seems to beg for some brave soul to dance barefoot in its midst.
Such was my state of mind when I headed to the Director’s Council at the Museum of the City of New York’s annual New York After Dark party Wednesday evening at said venue. The event, this year sponsored by Graff and Valentino, draws a reliably social crowd for drinks and hors d’oeuvres, with a more flexible dress code than many of its counterparts: the invitation read “Jackets (ties your choice).”
Arriving at the party, one must first pass through the front Grill Room, packed with gaping men in suits, undoubtedly a bit, umm, curious about the stream of women with long blonde hair and short, tight dresses.
From left: Leslie Stevens, Claude Shaw and Lara Meiland-Shaw; Kim Vernon and Helen Schifter.
But once inside, it was pretty much as civilized as it comes. Waiters passed around a rather diverse array of food options—mini burgers, oysters and parsnip soup—while men in conservative suits, some sans ties per the dictate, mixed with ladies like Hilary Dick, Marisa Noel Brown, Joanne de Guardiola, Helen Schifter, Jamie Tisch and Roberta Armani. Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos even managed to coax her husband, Paul, out for the evening (note to those less familiar with these parties: husbands aren’t usually willing attendees).
“Well she gets dressed up and looks nice, it seems like the right thing to do,” he said, though he graciously avoided the multiple photographers.
Two bars on the east side of the room were packed and the male to female ratio seemed unusually well balanced for such affairs. (That said, grey haired gentleman who attempted to flirt with me and my barely out of college friend? Next time, eschew the three maraschino cherries in your drink, among other things.)
From left: Roberta Armani, Alice Tisch and Jamie Tisch; Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos.
Mid-way through the evening, Mark Gilbertson, one of council’s chairs and longtime champions took to the stairs-cum-podium to introduce his fellow chairs and the museum’s director Susan Henshaw Jones, who clued everyone in to the MCNY’s recently announced management of the Seaport Museum at South Street Seaport.
“I’m reaching out to all the sailors in the room—I know a good place for you,” she enthused (it perhaps came out a little differently than planned).
Gilbertson then asked the crowd whether he should open the doors to the Pool Room’s upstairs portion.
“Do you think we’re crowded? Do you want to open this other room?” he inquired.
“No!” yelled one woman, multiple times.
Guess she was enjoying the cozy company.