Society / Featured Parties

Dallas’ Own Version of New Orleans Comes to Life

This Crystal Charity Ball Channels the Big Easy With Serious Style

BY // 03.22.19
photography Dana Driensky, Daniel Driensky

Much like strolling through the French Quarter, passing through the moss-covered corridor and into the cocktail hour of The Crystal Charity Ball was like strolling through a gateway into another time and place.

With romantic gas-lit lampposts, brick facades swathed in ivy, and a bubbling fountain straight out of a charming French courtyard, the magical charm and infectious energy of the Crescent City was palpable inside the Hilton Anatole ­— and chair Claire Emanuelson did everything short of putting everyone on a plane to her hometown to make the affair truly fit its theme of “A Celebration in Nouvelle Orléans.”

In the center of the atrium, bartenders mixed cocktails inside a giant revolving carousel — modeled after the Hotel Monteleone’s iconic watering hole — ready to pour a Sazerac or a Ramos Gin Fizz, while attendees in their black-tie best sampled mini muffuletta lollipops, Andouille sausage puffs, and jumbo Gulf shrimp the size of small lobsters.

This year, it wasn’t choreographed bells or a gong that sounded for dinner, but a party-starting brass band that led a festive second-line parade all the way into the Chantilly Ballroom.

Cascading wisteria trees and bountiful arrangements of roses and hydrangeas by The Garden Gate set an elegantly southern scene. Students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts — one of the year’s eight Crystal Charity Ball beneficiaries — drew accolades for their uplifting choral number.

From the Crab Louie salad with Galatoire’s rémoulade that started off dinner to the hot beignets offered to guests in the valet line on their way out, the remainder of the evening was filled with more nods to the Big Easy — especially the dance floor, which stayed packed until it was time to turn on the lights.

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