It was a party. What a great night and thank you, everyone, everyone, who joined Arts United and NIPR to celebrate good food and great wine and our work. There are about a thousand things I could blog about today (the awesome wine tasting before dinner, Dan and Krista and their wonderful humor and insight, incredible food, “yummy” wine . . . on and on) and I probably will write about those things at some point, but one thing stood out to me as the most exceptional of the evening.
It was an evening full of good spirit. Everywhere.
We had wine distributors who came on short notice for a smaller tasting than they have had with us in the past and when they left, they stopped to tell me that they felt privileged, privileged, to have shared our evening.
An exceptional group of student musicians from the University of Saint Francis played for us and when I talked with them, there was such a generosity of heart and commitment to serving us well. “It is a privilege to play for your guests.”
The pacing of the first couple courses, food and wine, was clearly not the best. And we knew the remarkable folks from Club Soda were struggling to serve everyone appropriately, but the patience among diners was so nice to watch. People just visited and sipped and visited some more, enjoyed the lovely Arts United Center venue, visited, bid on the silent auction. And then made a huge fuss over the food when it arrived. Good spirited patience.
There was laughter everywhere – OK, yes, there was a lot of laughter from downstairs and we all shared in the energy that was so apparent. I was watching the tables carefully and it was so clear that almost every table was “working.” You expect tables where the people all come together to “work”, but worry about those tables that are put together from people who might not know each other – couples, singles, people who don’t want to fill a table but still want to come. Maybe there was some awkwardness in the first little bit at some tables – there was, in reality, a little awkwardness at my table at first. But great food and good wine and a whole table of talkative people works miracles. There was something very special about the energy last night. It wasn’t all perfect, but it worked as well as any event I’ve seen.
People bid generously on the silent auction. Granted, it was a great silent auction. Who couldn’t find something they really wanted (nothing here anybody needed, only things you lust after)? Light-hearted competitiveness added to the fun and the profit and I enjoyed watching that unfold.
We had a fire in the kitchen (flames, people, yes, there were flames . . . and smoke) that set off the alarms, which continued to blare for several minutes. Dan Stockman, God bless you, man, just kept talking about the wine and everybody just put up with the noise. It all settled down pretty quickly – until five or six fully suited firemen came up the stairs to make sure all was well and stirred things up again. Thank you, gentlemen, for doing your job. You added to the “memorable” factor. Good spirits, as we all laughed, waited for the rest of the lamb to be served and went on with our evening.
It was a four-hour dinner. Good spirited indulgence, enjoyment, fellowship, and humor. Yes, I do know that the good-spiritedness can rise as you move through the fourth and fifth wine with dinner, but you know, too, that it can just as easily go the other way. This crowd was clearly there to enjoy the evening and to be supportive.
My favorite spot at the end of any event is at the door as people leave. I feel privileged to accept the thanks and compliments on behalf of the staff and volunteers who make things like this happen. Last night was one of the best doorman nights ever. People came in good spirits and they left in good spirits and no matter how much or little money we made, this great feeling counts for something to an organization like ours. Especially after the last couple months. We were reminded that we have good-spirited, fully committed friends.
Thank you, friends. Cheers.
There will be pictures. Stay tuned.