A 17 day arts festival like Spoleto requires endurance, and ours was put to the test Friday night with not one but two parties to cover. The first, an after-performance party to celebrate Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia, took place in a South of Broad garden. Guests were handed fans at the entrance, a traditional prop in the flamenco genre that was equally useful in combating the hot night air. Waiters passed trays of brightly colored tequila sunsets and Spanish themed hors d’oeuvres, like the Andalusian shrimp skewer. The decor was a muted display of fuschia, orange and red, as globed votives hung delicately balanced from tree branches and orchids adorned the bars and tables.
Spoleto Board of Directors member Denise Barto chatted with Danielle Murnierks about her busy show schedule, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Le Grand C, and a collection of chamber music performances. Artist Jill Hooper mingled with friends and performers of the show, a slight conversational challenge with a Spanish dance troupe that spoke limited English. As the night progress, however, the language barrier faded away. Performers Maise Marquez, Patricia Guerrero and Sara Arévalo, perhaps aided by the tequila sunsets that ceaselessly glided past on silver trays, began to shimmy and sashay to the croaking of the tree frogs in neighboring gardens. The ladies took turns twirling and shaking, stepping aside so that the next performer could enjoy the audience’s complete attention.
Many of the attendees that we spoke with talked about their involvement with Spoleto since the late 1970s, almost with a disbelief that the Festival has come this far, grown this big. These patrons can run through lists of shows that they’re seeing this year and even point out performers like Chamber Music pianist Pedja Muzijevic. “You should really get his picture,” whispered one party-goer, “he’s so talented.”
After departing the Flamenco fete, we crossed town to the Aquarium Wharf, where the Spoleto SCENE was hosting their annual White Party. If last year’s rooftop party conjured images of South Beach, then this year’s venue, a multi-level loft with exposed brick walls and well-placed white draping, instantly invoked scenes of Brooklyn. On the first floor guests entered to a bar pouring a signature cocktail, the Bonsoir, made with champagne, cucumber, mint, and Cathead vodka. Upstairs, DJ Professor Ping spun beats that provided background music at the beginning of the party, when SCENE’s networking purpose was in full force, but quickly shifted into a dance party soundtrack as the clock stuck twelve.
Party-goers noshed on small bites from Hamby’s catering, corndogs, and ice cream sandwiches among them, food that imparted a “devil may care” vibe that was perfectly in line with the 20- and 30-something crowd. The adherence to a strictly white dress code was perhaps the only care that many of these attendees had, and yet a couple people sported completely non-white ensembles. They were regarded with a shrug by fellow guests. Spoleto staffer Kate Archibald discussed her festival duties with friend Eric Gussin, while Meredith Siemens posed for pictures with a group of white ensembled dandies.
The party’s official purpose, to celebrate the evening’s Johnnyswim performance in the Cistern yard, was only partially embraced by the crowd. Some guests raved about the show, while others blushed, admitting that they were only here for the party. The Spoleto SCENE crew will reconvene for next Saturday’s Intergalactic Nemesis party.