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Smack dab in the middle of an event-cluttered week, The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s second annual Spring Ball drew a party-ready crew to the Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom Wednesday evening. And no one was more aware of the difficulty in corralling such strong numbers than co-chairman Muffie Potter Aston.
“Bodies count — you all came,” said Aston to the crowd, which included Tory Burch, Marjorie Gubelmann, Renée Rockefeller, Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss, Serena Boardman, Grace Hightower and Robert De Niro, and Jill Zarin of “The Real Housewives of New York City” fame. Some generous donors had even given their tickets back after purchasing them so the organizers could resell them. “This is the only room in New York where you can sell a ticket twice and not get arrested,” joked Aston.
This story first appeared in the May 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Over dinner, the Upper East Side contingent couldn’t help but chatter about a few unexpected attendees.
“Is that guy a famous rapper?” queried one man eyeing a diamond-stud-sporting LL Cool J (“I’m a guest of Tory’s,” explained the singer.)
More perplexing for some was the choice of the evening’s performer, Macy Gray, who nonetheless got everyone on their feet dancing, despite some heckling from her. “I hear you all have lots of money and you’re a bit snobby,” Gray told the audience, before belting out a series of tunes.
The same night, the New York City Ballet featured a mix of old and new for its spring gala at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. For one thing, the evening’s performances included Jiri Bubenicek’s extremely avant-garde piece — set to dead silence — followed by a very traditional rendition of George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations,” complete with brand new, white tutus.
The dinner afterwards mixed true balletomanes including Deeda Blair, Charlotte Moss and Fé Fendi with unexpected fans like Edward Norton, Sean Avery and DJ Samantha Ronson. “We are bridging the generation gap,” explained NYCB board member Lisa Marie Falcone, who wrangled Ronson for the event.
“This isn’t what I’m used to,” admitted Ronson, who appeased all age groups by spinning everything from Phil Collins to Beyoncé.