Washington Galas: From Dolley to the Digital

Dolley Madison, the original gala girl
Dolley Madison, the original gala girl

First Lady Dolley Madison was one of the first Washingtonians to realize the value – practical, artistic and financial – of a good gala. Her outgoing nature helped her husband, President James Madison, in his public life, and made a lasting impression on America.

The 20th century brought the likes of Evangeline Bruce, Katharine Graham and Pamela Harriman. The younger Sally Quinn remains of that group to discuss social life, manners and offer party advice. Despite Sen. John McCain's deriding of "Georgetown cocktail parties," media coverage of these galas and smaller parties has expanded from the local newspaper to slick luxe publications and websites along with e-mail party bloggers amid ubiquitous digital cameras.

Old faithfuls mix with fresh affairs – preview parties for the Georgetown House Tour and Garden Tour (and even a gala for the re-opening of the Georgetown Safeway); Washington House Correspondents' Association dinner and its attending parties. Add to that The Kennedy Center Honors, Mark Twain Awards, the Opera Balls, Ambassador Ball and Meridian Ball, to say nothing of inaugural balls and the hipper parties at places like the Newseum (Larry King still reserves the Ritz; Bono can be seen there, too, and at the Irish Embassy). Historic venues from Halcyon House and Dumbarton House to the National Building Museum, the Mellon Auditorium and the Library of Congress are joined by the British Embassy, House of Sweden, Wolf Trap and the National Mall, itself.

A wider range of gala patrons are on the scene, from ambassadors and businessmen to social media mavens and corporations. In the 21st century, crowds are larger, venues bigger, events more elaborate, lists exclusive and fundraising impressive. The point of the party remains the same: good times for good causes. Raise the roof, money and awareness in the nation's capital. Below you will find a list of The Georgetowner's most anticipated galas this season.

Gala Guide

Consultation for the guide by Mary Bird & Robert Devaney

The Radio & Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Wednesday, March 30

The annual affair for those in radio and TV. Invitation only. Reception-6:45 p.m. Dinner-7:45 p.m.

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW

Washington Performing Arts Society Annual Auction and Gala

Saturday, April 2

6:00 p.m. Cocktails and silent auction; 8:00 p.m. Dinner followed by the featured performance, a live auction and dancing, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Black tie. Individual tickets $500. Please call 202-293-9325 for more details. The WPAS Annual Gala raises money for artistic initiatives and extensive educational programs, including the Embassy Adoption Program, Summer Performing Arts Academy, The Capitol Jazz Project and Enriching Experiences for Seniors.

Dinner With Larry King and Friends

Saturday, April 2

To benefit the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, Mary J. Blige

The Ritz Carlton. Time TBA

Kennedy Center Spring Gala

Sunday, April 3

8:30 p.m. Kennedy Center. Reception, performance orchestra seating, dinner on the Center's Roof Terrace level with a live band and dancing at the ‘Til Midnight Party, $1000. For further information please call (202) 416-8338

Taste of the Nation DC

Monday, April 4

7:00 p.m.- 10:00 p.m. National Building Museum Tickets $95

The annual event benefiting Share Our Strength, a national effort to end childhood hunger in America. For more information visit Strength.org/Washington/

N Street Village Gala

Wednesday, April 6

6:30 p.m. Cocktails and Hors D’oeuvres Entertainment by Tommy Cecil Quartet 7:30 pm Dinner and Program

The annual affair raises money to provide shelter and support for homeless and low-income women in the DC area. For more information call 202-421-3211

The Wellness Community 5th Annual Celebration of Hope Gala

Thursday, April 7

6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Fairfax at Embassy Row. Reception, seated dinner, awards program, raffle and live auction. Cocktail attire. Individual tickets $250. For more information call 301 493-5002.

5th Annual Fashion for Paws Runway Show

Saturday, April 9

8 p.m.-12 a.m. National Building Museum. Benefactor Reception at 7 p.m. Runway show 9:15 p.m. Standard tickets $95. VIP tickets $200. VIP Table $3,000

The event is a fundraising program of the Washington Humane Society. Named best fashion even of the year by BizBash and Washington Life magazines.

8th Annual Blue Jeans Ball

Sunday, April 10

6:00 p.m.- 10p.m. Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Tickets $150

The Blue Jeans Ball is a community-wide charitable event that encourages residents in the D.C. area to “come as you are,” learn more about the high prevalence of hunger among our neighbors throughout the metro region, and become part of the solution.

Embassy Chef Challenge

Tuesday, April 12

VIP Reception 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 pm, main event 6:30p.m. – 10 pm. The Ronald Reagan Building and

International Trade Center. Individual tickets $250. For information call 202 638-8363 or visit CulturalTourismDC.org.

Folger Shakespeare Library Gala

Wednesday, April 13

Folger Shakespeare Library Time TBA Tickets $600

The 2011 Folger Gala will pay tribute to Gail Kern Paster, the Library's Director, who will be retiring at the end of June. For information call 202-675-0377.

National Museum of Women in the Arts Spring Gala

Friday, April 15

6:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. National Museum of Women in the Arts. Individual tickets $600. For more information call Ginny Page, at 202-266-2815 or GPage@nmwa.org. Proceeds from the event support the exhibitions, activities and projects that make the NMWA the leading museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts.

The 2011 Bachelors and Spinsters Ball

Saturday, April 16

9:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. The City Tavern Club. Invitation Only

The evening features live music by the Mustangs and a silent auction to benefit TAPS. For more information visit BachelorsAndSpinsters.com.

56th Annual Corcoran Ball

Friday, April 29

Corcoran Gallery of Art. Cocktails at 7:00 p.m., dinner at 8:15 p.m. Individual tickets $500. Please call (301) 951-3780.

Ball proceeds provide scholarships for the College, underwrite community outreach and education programs and support the Corcoran's long tradition of bringing outstanding artists and their collections to the museum.

Washington Animal Rescue League’s Rescue Me Gala

Saturday, April 30

8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Union Station. VIP Reception 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Gala 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Black tie optional for dogs and humans. Leashed dogs are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information call 202 375-7746 or visit warl.org.

The 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Ball

Saturday, April 30

The Washington Hilton. Time TBA. Invitation Only

Hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers

For information call 202-266-7453

Washington National Opera’s Opera Ball

Saturday, May 7

Dinners begin at 7:00 p.m., Ball at 9:30 p.m. Chancery of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China. Individual tickets $1000. For more information please contact WNO’s Special Events office at 202 295.2437.

L’Enfant Society Ball on the Mall

Saturday, May 7

6:00 p.m.- 11:30 p.m. The National Mall at Madison Drive and 13th Street 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. VIP Reception and Dinner Tickets $325 Champagne reception, formal seated dinner, Ball on the Mall

8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. Ball on the Mall Tickets $150 Dancing to live music, dessert buffet, signature cocktails Ball on the Mall supports the Trust’s efforts to make the National Mall the best park in the world. For more information call 202-407-9408

The Washington Ballet Rock & Roll Ball

Thursday, May 12

Cocktails 7:00 p.m. Dinner 8:00 p.m. The Embassy of the Russian Federation. Individual tickets $1000. For additional information contact Elizabeth Early, Manager of Special Events & Stewardship at 202 274-4518

Proceeds from the Ball fund programs that reach 800 DC public school children through DanceDC and provide tuition relief for students from Anacostia who attend the remarkable program at THEARC, where more than 300 disadvantaged children are studying ballet.

Washington Humane Society 24th Annual Bark Ball

Saturday, June 4.

VIP Reception 6:30 pm; Reception, Silent Auction, & Doggie Bar 7:00 p.m.; Dinner, Live Auction, & Program 8:00 p.m. Washington Hilton. Individual tickets $250 For more information please call 202 723-5730, ext. 204.

The Bark Ball draws many of the area's most illustrious residents and their four-legged friends, all in honor of the programs and services of the Washington Humane Society.

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