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Swing into Spring

“It promises to be more fun than last year’s Cotton Club affair,” said Chimene Grant Connor about the proposed “A Night at Studio 504” of the New Orleans Chapter of The Links Inc. Needless to say, that was a huge come-on because the 2014 revelry produced limitless compliments.

The Terminal Building at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport was the site for the night that made retro into revels. To the festive fore were the groovy night club days of the 1970s and '80s. To create that effect, white tulle fabric drapery, a large rotating mirrored ball, intimate club seating, glowing cube tables and a LED graphic curtain with a multitude of lights were put in place. Disc jockeys with their psychedelic DJ table and centerpieces of large glass bowls with mirror balls and candles added further features to the overall ambiance.

Those who had been to Studio 54 at 254 W. 54th St., in New York, arguably the best-known nightclub on the planet, during its 1977-81 heydays felt right at disco home.

To recreate an aural feel for the thematic era, there was music by Southern Dynasty DJs and The Jamison Ross Trio, a jazz ensemble, respectively in the Atrium and Walnut Room. Messina’s at The Terminal fed the flock.

For the auction ado, a woodcut titled “Faithful” from the Stella Jones Gallery, three signed posters by Terrance Osborne, tickets, select CDs, and gift certificates generated excitement and cash.

Among the evening’s many highlights was the presentation of the Linkage Award to Kim Boyle. Further notables were chapter President Verdie Richburg, Swing into Spring Gala Co-Chairwomen Cordelia Tullous and Erica Wilson, chapter alumnae Sybil Morial and Rhesa McDonald with husband Alden, fundraising Chairwoman Edna Moore, Ruth Ramsey, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, Andrea Jefferson Ph.D., Councilman James Gray and spouse Ernestine (a former chapter president, as were Edna, Nadine and Andrea), member Dr. Florencia Polite with husband U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Kenneth, Winston and Wendy Burns, the above Chimene Grant Connor with Torrey Lewis and, from the Links Chapter in Fairfield, Connecticut, Deborah Elam with Cary Grant.

What fun they all had dressing up for the 504 salute! Looking around, there were members and guests turned out for prime-time '70s-'80s in psychedelic prints, go-go boots, bell bottom pants, gold lamé jumpsuits, wigs and the like, many channeling “Saturday Night Fever.” Members sported disco ball necklaces that matched the large disco ball “chandelier” that was perched above the main room (The Atrium).

Spring Fling

“Around the World” titled the Holy Name of Jesus School’s Spring Fling 2015 that hailed Lauren Beasley and Stephanie Wetmore, who were accompanied by husbands Ryan and Mark, as chairwomen. Additional headliners were the Rev. Eddie Gros, SJ, the Rev. Stephen Rowntree, SJ, school Principal Jessica Dwyer, Parent-Teacher Club President Ed Wallace and Lauren, Anna and Jeffrey Combes, Mary and Morris Walker, Jennifer and Charles Keller, Jill and Matthew Woods, Erin and Steve Kavanagh, Cindy and Ryan Oufnac, Gator Fest Chairwoman Amy Edmond and Leon, Cheryl and Ricky Dietz, Nicole and Keith Wood, and Patrick and Jennifer McCausland. She just chaired the 34th annual Gator Run in Audubon Park.

Boucherie, Chez Nous, Juan’s Flying Burrito and Ristorante Filippo purveyed choice chomps with sangria as a top libation. As for the musicmakers, the HWY 78’s were a hit. Three of them, Warren Chapoton and the above Keith Wood and Steven Kavanagh, are HNJ dads.

The party was held outside in the small play yard complete with lights and travel decorations befitting go-go globalization.

Going for the $ “green” was the silent auction that featured restaurant and other gift certificates, Mignon Faget glasses and abstract art, the major item, by Michelle Tullis. Beaming as the art winner were the McCauslands.

To make “Around the World” a sartorial fling, costumes were encouraged. Imaginations and closet treasures produced fare from Greece, Japan, China, Hawaii, and cruises. Several guests were asked who they were supposed to be. They smiled and said, "Tourists.”

Landmarks, laurels and levity

Louisiana Landmarks Society recently celebrated the achievements of architects, contractors and developers for 18 outstanding projects completed in our city in the last year with an awards presentation and reception. A stunning new space on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market, was the location. An award-winner itself, the venue, which is now the official home of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, began life as the Dryades Market.

Fittingly, guests enjoyed drinks from the PHNOJM’s contemporary Bolden Bar and delicious appetizers catered by nearby Café Reconcile.

Tapped for Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation, along with the Jazz Market, were Bienville Avenue Residences, Carver Theater, the former Pan American Life Insurance Building, Faubourg Duchamp, The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, 1241 Josephine St., Marais Apartments (former Texaco Building), Il Mercato, Myrtle Banks Redevelopment, 518 Natchez, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, PolyBar Project, Professor Longhair House, Roman-Bienville Homes, 850 Tchoupitoulas St., Tulane School of Social Work, and Southern Food and Beverage Museum, PHNOJM’s across-the-street neighbor.

Cited were LLS board President Casey Stuart, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation Executive Director Don Marshall, professor Gene Cizek, Jim Landis and Landmarks board member and spouse Elizabeth “Libby,” Jacques Morial, Pat O’Brien, Ph.D., society first Vice president Stephen Chauvin and Cindy, second Vice President Sandra Stokes, Col. William Davis, Liz Williams and Rick Normand, Landmarks Executive Director Walter Gallas, Karen Fernandez, Peter Trapolin and Rick Fifield. Lively buzz centered on the location itself.

Singing for our supper

During the recent dinner of the Opera Club of the New Orleans Opera Association, which took place in the Garden District-located Women’s Guild Home and belongs to the Women’s Guild of the NOOA, guests were entertained by Pascal Valcasara’s jazz trio and by Metropolitan Opera star/Louisiana native Lisette Oropesa, a soprano and Susanna in the last production of the opera season, “The Marriage of Figaro.” She enthralled the black-tie attendees with “La Vie en Rose.”

Immediate past Opera Club President Dr. Charles Dupin and Diane hosted the dinner that enjoyed Brennan’s Catering and its menu of pan-roasted salmon and steamship round of veal. Both the double parlor and Tiffany Room were beautifully decorated with tables dressed with rose linens and centered with vases of cream-colored roses. The chiavari chairs provided by Guild Home neighbor Catherine Burns Tremaine were the finishing touch.

Principals of this dinner, and seasonal dinners that honor various cast members and directors of the operas, included Opera Club President Bruce Gordon and Melissa, 2014 Holiday Party hosts Joan and Dr. Alan Sheen, Bill Coe, Barbara and Thomas “Tom” Sands, maestro Robert Lyall, Women’s Guild President Betsy and Pat Dowling, Penny O’Krepki, 2015 Opera Ball Co-Chairwoman Ann Duffy with John Skinner, Virginia and John Eckholdt, December 2015 Opera Ball Chaircouple Sonda and Ted Stacy, Eileen and A.J. Capritto, Margie Breeden, Eleanor and Phil Staub, and Judy and Elroy Eckhardt, hosts for the earlier “Lucia di Lamermoor” Dinner. It was also Elroy’s birthday and, as musical lagniappe, Lisa sang “Happy Birthday.”