I can't say that I've ever done "the Society" thing, but we came close the other weekend. Marriott's company does pro-bono work for Marwen, an art school in Chicago. Marwen was celebrating its 20th anniversay at it's annual benefit dinner, called the Paintbrush Ball. Marriott's company had bought a table and had extra tickets, so she brought me and JC along.
In the parking lot of the school's studio, they'd set up two massive tents with carpeted raised floor and overhead fans. It seemed more atmospheric than "temporary structure" -- wooden folding chairs, white linens galore, and real glassware and dinnerware.
The crowd seemed like a big mix of older and middle-aged, with a few Paris Hilton-wannabes in the crowd. No outfits that made me go "Wow!", but there were a few pink and purple shirts/ties on men.
When we checked in, we were each given an auction paddle with our number on it for the live auction, and two pages of pre-printed labels with our number on it for the silent auction. So we grabbed a drink and couple hors de'oeuvres and perused the silent auction tables.
Marriott had warned me that the auction items would be out of our price range, but I'd laughed to myself because I've seen items go ridiculously cheap in silent auctions. Let's just say, when I saw opening bids for more than $1,000 on bottles of wine in the silent auction, I realized that Marriott was not exaggerating.
If things were going for that much in the silent auction, what would the live auction be like? $5,000 for a trip to London. Not so bad. But a bidding war up to $21,000 for a 30-person wine tasting party in someone's swanky loft? (They ended up giving both bidders a party -- way to double the revenue!) And the fighter pilot for a day? Another $20,000 or so.
Oh, and the food was excellent. A real diet-buster.
All in all, it was a fun girls night out in the city. I'd happily do it again. Thank you Marriott for thinking of me and inviting me along. :)