Home Nightlife Special Olympics Gala less “special” than desired.

Special Olympics Gala less “special” than desired.

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Photography by Britta Leuermann.

The I-bankers, lawyers, and young political types were out for the Special Olympics Junior Committee Gala at Greenhouse. With $75 to $100 tickets paired with an expansive silent auction, this event surely raised a lot of money for a worthy cause. Unfortunately, the event itself was strangely uninspired and left much to be desired.

Let’s start with notes on the venue. Greenhouse seems like a natural choice for a socially-conscious event like this one- with its LEED certification and commitment to reduced waste- so it’s a shame that the planning seemed so bungled. Two overworked bartenders were responsible for the watering of the entire crowd, making the wait for a drink nearly intolerable.

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The deejay was sub par as well, spinning supremely mediocre tracks (SexyBack, anyone?) to a crowd that refused to dance. A note for future party planners: All events like this one can be divided into either parties where people want to dance or parties where people want to talk. If it’s a dancing crowd, hire a deejay. If it’s a talking crowd, get some tasty hors d’ oeuvres. This event’s organizers clearly planned for the former and got the latter, resulting in a foodless event where attendees often struggled to talk over the music.

Speaking of the crowd- uh oh. This was a young, stylish, and moneyed group, making it all the more surprising how poorly they mixed. Those I talked to were all happy to be there supporting the cause, but had wound up at the event because they were a friend of a board member or had some similar connection. Somehow, this made people reluctant to leave their cliques. It seemed that ninety percent of people there only talked to others they already knew, leaving the atmosphere decidedly sexless.

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Obligatory Obama joke aside, supporting the Special Olympics is a worthy and admirable cause for many reasons, not least of which is the unpretentious nature of the organization. With this in mind, I must note another odd choice by the organizers. From the silent auction to the table giveaways to the gift bags passed out at the door, this event was heavily supported by two cosmetic facilities, Laser Cosmetica and Completely Bare, both of which offer laser hair removal, micro-‘dermabrasion,’ and other cosmetic procedures. Maybe it’s just me, but something about being supported by companies that represent the height of superficiality does not seem in keeping with the accepting ethos of the Special Olympics.

Certainly, the event was not a total failure, not by a long shot. The drinks were delicious, Greenhouse has stylish and lovely interior, and the entire affair had a desirable air of exclusivity. A few minor adjustments and I’m sure the next event will be one for the ages.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. marc, I think what you have to say certainly has merit, and ultimately our writer only wrote what she saw and what she thought, and even though I wasn’t there – I do think you all exemplified yourselves for bringing awareness and financial reconstitution to such a wonderful endeavor.

    Keep it coming- Scallywag, chief dilettante and editor in chief.

  2. We thank you for attending and covering our event. We appreciate your good-natured and undoubtedly well-intentioned suggestions for improvement as well. While our primary goal is to raise funds for and awareness of Special Olympics, we also want our supporters to enjoy themselves at our events. While the impression we have received is that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, we do appreciate constructive criticism.

    We were delighted with the reception Greenhouse gave us. We appreciate that Greenhouse offered us their venue and staff, including bartenders and deejay, at a cahraitable discount and that everyone worked very hard on Monday night. While the crowd certainly kept the bartenders busy, we take that as a sign that people were having a good time and were enjoying our sponsors’ cocktail offerings. Additionally, there was a downstairs bar that you may not have seen, so there was more staff on site.

    As far as the music, again, we were very pleased with Greenhouse’s offerings and variation in taste is what makes life interesting. We are sorry if it didn’t inspire you to get out on the dance floor, but there were several who did as the evening progressed. Given the early hour of the event, we didn’t plan on it being primarily a dance party.

    The way most philanthropic organizations get attendess for their events is by a committee creating guest lists of their friends, so it is not at all surprising or unusual that most of the attendees knew organizers. While many did meet new people, like many parties, the event also offered an opportunity to catch up with old friends and people had the opportunity to do both.

    As for the sponsors of our event, we had a wide array of sponsors and gift offerings, ranging from sporting events and memorabilia to clothing to spa treatments. We very much appreciate the generosity of all our sponsors and believe that it is indicative of the wide range of people and organizations that support Special Olympics. All the sponsors’ offerings were picked up by our attendees, so we believe that we gave the people what they wanted, as the saying goes. We don’t believe that cosmetics are inconsistent with Special Olympics. If anything, both have the goal of feeling good about oneself.

    As far as the event being understated, we believe that in these times conspicuous consumption should be the exception rather than the rule and we sought to offer our guests a fun evening without wasting their money on unecessary expenses and channeling as much as possible to the cause that we had all gathered to support.

    Again, we thank you for your coverage of the event, but did want to respond to a few points raised in your article.

    With best wishes,
    Matthew Margolin and Marc Lewinstein on behalf of the Special Olympics New York Junior Committee

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