The question asked at the door was, "Ivy League?"
And the answer was simple--the name of one of the eight Eastern college allies, or mention of one of the seven affiliated "sister" schools.
With those passwords--and a quick glance down the list -- 165 formally dressed guests were admitted to the the upstairs dining area of John Dominis restaurant on Sunday night. For them, the tendrils of Ivy cling mightily.
The $50-a-pop holiday dinner-dance was hosted by the Ivy League Assn. of Southern California, a nonprofit group that organizes educational and social events in Los Angeles and Orange County throughout the year.
"Contrary to popular belief," said Joseph Villarosa (Yale '84), "most of the people in this group are really down-to-earth."
Villarosa, a native New Yorker and president of the alumni association, said that he--like many others in the group--came to California "for a good job and for life-style reasons." He joined ranks with his fellow alums out here because he wanted "to network with others who share the same morals, values and ethics. Does that sound elitist?" he asked. "I don't mean to sound elitist."
The party got off to a groggy start, thanks in part to the Coast Highway traffic clogging the route to the Newport Beach restaurant.
Once inside, guests settled at dinner tables near windows overlooking the bay, where boats trimmed in holiday lights glided between dark sky and black water.
Among the few minglers who stood while they sipped their cocktails were University of Pennsylvania ('86) alumni Laura Delgado and Anne-Maree Cantwell.
Delgado, a convention planner, said she and her friend liked going to alumni events because "it's wonderful to be with your comrades."
"You always have a lot in common with the people you meet at these (parties)," said Cantwell, who lived in London before her recent move to Palos Verdes. "And if nothing else, you can always talk about school."
Alan Beimfohr (Cornell '66), who co-hosted the party with Villarosa, talked about the scholarship money raised by the different alumni associations, and said he likes "having a group you relate to on a different basis from people at work, or social groups. I think it's part of being a complete person to have yourself invested in more than one area, with more than one group of people."
Julianne Hill (Brown '43) and her husband, Herbert, watched the boat parade from a quiet table at one end of the wall of windows. Hill remembered "all those years we were living out in the desert, and every year I'd get an invitation (to an alumni party) and I could never go. Well, we just moved back from the desert," she said, "and here I am at this party!"
Also attending were Joe and Pauline Fontana, Sid and Michelle Turkish, Jack and Gail Finnell, Jay and Debbie Gilbert, Tom and Mary Barry, Bill and Joyce Zaenglein, and Harry Jeffrey.