As a working professional, black tie galas permeate a lot of my world. I cannot count how many I have attended over the years. Sometimes, it involves typical hobnobbing, too much food, drinking, a silent auction, a fundraising ask, more food, more drinks, and a rambling exchange of contact information with seemingly random people. Other times, it involves all of the above, but coupled with a cause that I am really passionate about (eg. Special Olympics, anything to do with the arts…). And at other times, it’s all of that, and it’s a TON of fun.
I present to you the Northwest Dance Project Gala.
While I unabashedly love dance, I do particularly love this particular company. and this particular gala. Why? This ties in with my previous article on RACC/Work for Art; when I moved here the last week of 2014, I met Sarah Slipper and Scott Lewis, and as far as the arts go, they (among others) took me under their wing and they made sure 1) I felt welcome in Portland, and 2) they ensured I knew about all of their shows and every other dance company in town including dance presenter White Bird Dance Company, The Portland Ballet, Bodyvox, and Oregon Ballet Theater. They really went above and beyond to help me get established in the dance scene here and the arts scene in general. (You can tell I’m grateful:)). So, yes, I admit my bias, but objectively speaking, this gala presents such a different experience than a lot of other galas. Frankly, it’s something I look forward to every year now.
The night started off with me hopping out of my Lyft with my freshly painted nails and suit (my nails constituted my “dressing to the nines”) onto a red carpet. Immediately, a glass of bubbly landed in my hands, and boom, my picture was taken. I felt like I was a rock star (I am of course) walking into a show. From there, I walked right into check in, got my auction card and table assignment and made a beeline to the party room. In short, a couple hundred of extremely passionate and fun people, intermixed with dancers, wine, more wine, and really cool auction items such as a rock climbing experience to a trip to Tuscany stared me in the face. It’s hard to pin point how this was different other than it was far more intimate. Each auction item had a story behind it, and that made it meaningful to me to bid on a few items. Now, with a lot of galas, this portion of the night drags on and I usually have to get 2-3 whiskeys to occupy myself. Not here. The time flew by, which, if you think about it, is the best thing that can happen.
From there, the fun REALLY started. Of course, the night treated us to a wonderful dinner, but they put a lot of thought behind where to seat people. I got to sit next to a group of other hiker/outdoorsy types and other professionals just like me who wanted to get more plugged into the city. To me, that made my experience very unique. In short, it made me feel special and part of the family. Again, that’s hard to do in a gala setting, but Scott and Sarah (and Katie, the company manager) are just different. They are just different and special people. That’s really all I can say. During dinner, the dancers treated us to a runway show (set to modern dance) with local fashion designers. Again, though, each dancer offered her/his own twist versus just a typical fashion show runway (I’ve covered fashion shows, so I know what to expect), and that really brought the show alive. The subtle movements of each dancer made their personalities pop out and come alive. At some level, you felt like each dancer was dancing just for you; that’s how captivating the gesticulations and movements were. Imagine being across the room from someone and feeling them speak to you without words. That’s what it was like.
In all, this gala gets an A+ in my book. Yes, I’m biased, and take that for what it’s worth, but I’ve been to scores of galas, and this is one I definitely will not miss.