The Spinsters Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball was receiving rave A-pluses from its 600 guests. That was early in the evening during the pre-cocktail parties in private suites at the Biltmore Hotel and during the exotic cocktail party in the renovated Rendezvous Court, the Biltmore's old lobby. The mood held until 2:30 a.m. That's when Jim Fox and His Orchestra collapsed and the exuberant yuppies went home.
If there was a flaw, it was the heat--sort of a tropical heat wave. In the Rendezvous Court, transformed into a French Quarter, the temperatures soared while the jesters and man on stilts entertained and the bartenders in Mardi Gras masks poured on the wine, mint juleps and gin and tonics. But it was tropical splendor, and the overheated could escape to the sidewalk for a fresh breath.
Ball chairman Pamela Ann Kerns (escorted by Les Rose) was elated with the results. So were her assistants, Teresa Ann Hoffman of San Marino and Melina Lucy Eversole of La Canada. Designer Debbie Karrenbrock of Los Angeles Party Designs brought in wrought-iron benches and street signs for the decor. Then trumpets on the court stairs announced the transition into the elegant Crystal Room for dinner beneath the Biltmore's glorious ceiling and on gold lame tablecloths. "Just one of our best parties," said president Nancy Suzanne Townsend, an insurance executive who had just received her MBA from Claremont Graduate School. "I am really impressed," said Elizabeth Nutt, who's attended several balls. "Sort of a trio con brio, don't you think?" said Nancy Hoffman, mother of the assistant chairman.
Founded in 1926
The Spinsters was founded in 1926 by Betty Bettinger (the late Mrs. Leonard E. Harbach) and 17 charter members who believed that by banding together to entertain their friends, they could sponsor a more elaborate party than by entertaining individually.
The group was founded as a sister organization to the Bachelors. Because the Bachelors traditionally set their ball the weekend before Lent, the Spinsters chose the Saturday after Lent for their gala. Several years ago the Spinsters Ball was moved to May to accommodate the increasing number of members vacationing during the Easter season.
The Spinsters and their escorts and their young married friends were a handsome lot, camouflaged in feathers, veils, masks and makeup.
Membership chairman Nancy Baxter, escorted by Victor Feathers, arrived in a green taffeta ball gown wearing a mask she had made. Teresa Hoffman was masked in pearls and sequins to match her sequined dress. Date Steve Hansen looked sharp in his multifloral cummerbund and matching tie. Nancy Townsend's date, Ron Orr, assistant athletic director at USC, was a lot of good humor behind his Groucho Marx nose and eyebrows.
New Orleans Masks
Jim and Peggy Normandin (she was ball chairman three years ago) and Mimi Harrison (chairman last year, and attending with her fiance Kim Josephson), were complimentary. So were Spinsters Susan Lynch with Richard May and Diane Little with Kirk Bean. More in the crowd were Mike and Cathy Wilkenson, Catherine and Chuck Nelson, and Kim and Margaret Defenderfer, who wore pheasant and peacock masks from New Orleans.
Treasurer Melanie Burton Lester was accompanied by Solteros (another bachelor group) member Michael Sleight. Gigi and Johnnie Stage brought their entire table in "Gone With the Wind" attire. "And are we uncomfortable, with all these petticoats and pantaloons," she said, her ringlets twirling.
Others attending were Victoria Durkin (with John Mendelsohn of Hawaii), Tricia Dinsmore and Conrad Baker, Kristi Williamson and Jeff Rhodes, Gillian and James Servais, Harry and Mary Eversole, Helena Eversole (in town from Ethiopia), Melinda Graves and Chuck Uhlmann, Gregory and Callan Irvin, Lisa Harnett and Michael Roder, Elita Hotaling with Tom Cies, Susie and David Schock, Spinster Grace Bruns with a crowd of USC pals, Mike and Nancy McGowan, Spinster Talli Brockmiller with Briant Wells, Spinster Mallory Ketchum with Boyd Smith and Jane Irwin with Cas Stimson.
It was an occasion to show off all: Nancy Baxter's parents, Clare and Ralph Townsend, came up from San Diego for the affair; Melina Eversole and Teresa Hoffman also invited their parents, Henry and Noora Eversole and Chuck and Nancy Hoffman. Pamela Kerns' parents, the Ralph C. Townsends, also attended. All were patrons.
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