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Heart Assn. Gala: Fun, Aerobics, Donations

February 16, 1989|PAMELA MARIN

It was the high society workout of the season, a cardiovascular romp-and-stomp and cash-flow bonanza for the local chapter of the American Heart Assn.

We give it a 10, and you could definitely dance to it.

As they have for the past 2 years, organizers of this season's "Heart to Heart Gala" imported a New York dance troupe to entertain during dinner on Saturday at Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach.

But entertain isn't quite the right word--although the dancers put on an elaborate show between dinner courses that included five costume changes and choreographed routines to songs ranging from Gershwin to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

What they did was entreat, invite, cajole and otherwise hijack members of the fancy-dress audience onto the dance floor for aerobics.

"This is a group that just wants to have fun," said gala chairwoman Tina Schafnitz, who wore a red-and-black Gildas gown made especially for the party, with one black and one red opera-length glove and one black and one red shoe.

After cocktails and a browse around the silent auction room, the 350 guests entered a darkened dining room filled with billowing smoke and a full-blast recording of the theme from "2001."

Within minutes, the dance floor was packed--the tuxed and gowned party-goers doing the boogie-woogie with dancers in Spandex.

"This is so much better than most of these kinds of parties, which are so boring ," said Diane Clark, slightly winded from an energetic bop with her husband, Jim. "Usually by halfway through the meal, you're wondering how everybody at the table can get up and leave without making a scene."

Halfway through a dinner that included salmon en croute, vichyssoise, filet mignon and white chocolate mousse, guests were hitched together in a rumba line shimmying through the tables to the tune of "Locomotion."

The $200-per-person benefit was completely underwritten by Tom Siffermann and Dirk De Young of Woodview Development Corp. Lee Ann Siffermann, Tom's wife, was vice chairwoman of the event.

Net proceeds, including money from the silent and live auctions, were estimated at $85,000, according to Schafnitz. Mingling with local notables were "L.A. Law" stars Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry. Tucker's cousin, Mark Miller, is president of the Orange County chapter of the American Heart Assn.

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