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David Nelson / Society

Fifties Prom Theme Adds Enchantment to Evening

May 01, 1986|DAVID NELSON

LA JOLLA — There was something fishy about the San Diego League bash Saturday in the UC San Diego gymnasium.

Not the atmosphere. That was vintage gym, a kind of eau de sweat sock, as it were.

And not the guests. They were attired a la '50s prom, '50s punk or contemporary black tie.

The fishy note arose from the signs and banners in the gym that read, "Mill Valley High School Presents 'Enchantment Under the Sea.' April 26, 1955."

The party, a takeoff on the "Enchantment Under the Sea" high school prom featured in the movie "Back to the Future," was the latest installment in the series of San Diego League events to benefit local children's charities. The proceeds from "Enchantment," which attracted more than 450 guests, will be shared by Project Talk, which helps near-deaf toddlers develop hearing skills, and by the library building fund of the Girls' and Boys' Clubs of Chula Vista.

By faithful imitation, the party achieved a kind of tongue-in-chic parody of both the movie prom and '50s proms. The guests, most of them too young to know that decade by anything but reputation, did their homework well and arrived looking like the various Kittys and Biffs who populated high school campuses during the Eisenhower years. Full, swirling skirts ballooned over layers of crisp crinolines, and expensive '80s haircuts were pomaded and greased into curvaceous '50s ducktails.

The party planners--who perhaps would prefer to be known as the prom committee--broke out a rash of clever ideas that spread across the gym. Hundreds of fish, all cut from construction paper and splashed with glitter, dangled from balloon-supported wires just above the dancers' heads. Chaperones, looking dour, shabby and like they wished they were elsewhere (they were only acting, of course, but they did their jobs well), patroled the scene, ferreting out transgressors against the strict code of decorum. The L.A. Blues Brothers, a pair of dark-suited imposters who performed an excellent imitation of the famous Dan Ackroyd-John Belushi act, shook up and brought down the house with their high-stepping high jinks. The program even included a Hula Hoop contest, held between sessions of rocking to the Ricky Wells Band.

The evening's high point arrived when chairman Jo Ann Taormina and her escort, Ed Allred, received the much-coveted crowns as Queen and King Neptune. However, Taormina, who expected net party proceeds in excess of $10,000, was not as piscatorially picturesque as the guest who painted herself a light green and wore a modified mermaid suit (the tail had to be removed for ease of movement).

None of the male guests struck a merman pose, although a good many of them took advantage of the vintage '50s tuxedo rack installed by a local rental shop. Their effect was intentionally garish, and even though none managed to wrest the King Neptune crown from Allred, one guest suggested that any of them could have been named the Chicken of the Sea. In this particular crowd was League President Don McVay, who insisted that he had rented his bright peach tuxedo not just for that evening, but also for this Saturday's "Orient Express" gala (at the Santa Fe Depot for the benefit of the Kidney Foundation), of which he is chairman.

Among the big men and women on campus that night were Greg and Shelly Becker, Tom and Jennifer Turner, Keenan Casady, Carol Kemler, Rob and Joyce Cameron, Willard Snyder, Jill Pedersen, Rick Silvas, Nadine Corrigan, Kelly Lynch, Dennis Miller, Anne Piche, Robert Nightingale Jr., Martha Hall, Lisa Lessing, Jeffrey Schindler and Bill and Kathy Davidson.

RANCHO SANTA FE--About 150 well-dressed guests, their noses plunged into balloon-shaped glasses, wandered around the Howard Meister home Saturday, exchanging comments on the several dozen wines they had been invited to sample.

Graceful silver bowls contained the wines for this serious tasting event. Those who knew the rules and chose to play by them discreetly ejected their tastes of wine into these bowls after first giving the vintages all due and serious consideration. Most guests adopted a more philosophical point of view, however, and decided that it would be just as nice to taste their wine but drink it, too.

The event, "Winsome Whites" because only white wines were tasted, was given by the Mothers Club of Francis Parker School to benefit the school's library endowment fund. More than a dozen of California's most prestigious wineries contributed bottles to the tasting, and a few French vintages were allowed in for the sake of contrast. Bread and cheese were provided for palate-cleansing.

Co-chairman Gaynor Pates took great pleasure in leading tours of the Meister wine cellar, which is approached via dark, stone-lined stairs and corridors that resemble an ancient wine country chateau. The family collection of vintages is kept in temperature-controlled isolation behind thick panes of etched glass; had the room been larger, it would have made a perfect milieu for the tasting.

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