A Night in Monte Carlo: A Black-Tie, Thrill-Seeking Affair

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On Saturday, April 21, 2018, contributing writer, Moraima Bambaren, joins young professionals at the Embassy of France for a ThingstodoDC Culture event that celebrates Monte Carlo through European style Casino games, a French Bar, and dancing to top 40’s hits from Europe’s nightlife scene. 

I first fell in love with the French language when I first took Madame Wiesandanger’s class in high school. Ever since then that love spawned into a deeper appreciation for  French culture, whether it’s with the world-famous cuisine, the wine selection, the arts, the history, and the music. My love of the country of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, still endures.

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Guests at the Monte Carlo. Photo Courtesy of Lucy Wilson. 

As a proud Francophile, I like to be apprised on related festivals and events. Imagine my surprise when I found out about the Black-Tie Monte Carlo and European Gala sponsored by ThingstodoDc.com! In my opinion, themed parties are the best kind of parties. I am always “Black-Tie” ready. My closet is filled to the brim with long, gala-worthy, dresses that have never seen the light of day.
And finally, I’ve always dreamed of attending a James Bond movie themed (preferably Casino Royale) party. This day was a long time coming.

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Champagne for the Night! Photo Courtesy of Lucy Wilson. 

The Monte Carlo event was  a night full of European glamour: champagne that overflows, decadent chocolates and desserts, ballroom dancing in a luxurious venue and casino games sans real gambling. So I dug through my closet for a black and gold BCBG dress, found my highest black heels and applied Chanel lipstick to complete the French look.  Here’s a Fun fact: Did you know that BCBG stands unofficially for Bon chic, bon genre (good style, good attitude).

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After a quick Uber ride, my date and I arrived “fashionably” late due to  technical difficulties with his bow tie. We breezed through security and followed elegantly dressed men and women into the embassy where a long table filled with desserts welcomed us. Why yes, Marie Antoinette, I think I will eat the cake.

After we nibbled on desserts, our second stop was the Champagne bar where a long line of wine-connoisseurs waited patiently for their turn to imbibe a drink worthy of royalty. Champagne and cake in hand, we walked into the ballroom where people were waltzing under soft, romantic lights.

We later visited the blackjack table, where, apparently, I am an ace at. Viva Las Vegas, here I come! Attendees were having  a blast betting at the blackjack table and with craps. What made this excursion even more enticing were the hundred dollar chocolate coins passed around.

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After winning several hands,  I decided to explore more of the venue. All of a sudden,  I came face to face with two gentlemen who look like they came straight from the Scottish Highlands. As a big Outlander fan (Starz show, watch it), I knew I had to take a picture with them. Look at them rocking those kilts!

I would have loved to take more pictures of all the beautiful people that attended but my phone’s camera wouldn’t do them much justice.so I settled on a selfie, and cake and champagne pics. Not pictured was the delicious Bordeaux wine and refreshing 1664 beers that were available at the open bar. Overall, we had a great time. We met fun people and, magically, ended the night with a dance underneath soft, beautiful lights.

Love to wanderlust? Ever want to step onto foreign soil for a night? Join ThingstodoDC Cultural Society to get a remarkable privilege of visiting various Embassies throughout the District.

4th Annual AMPA National Gala

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On May 13th, 2017, I had the privilege and honor of attending the American Military Partner Association’s (AMPA) annual gala, held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.

I was there to support hundreds of our nation’s LGBT service members, veterans, military spouses, allies, from across the country and around the world at the 4th Annual AMPA National Gala, proudly presented by USAA and Comcast NBCUniversal.

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Courtesy of JK 

AMPA is the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans.  As a  nonprofit organization founded by the partners of active duty service members, AMPA has grown to the strength of over 50,000 members and supporters and is proud to be leading the nation in education, advocacy, and support for our modern military families.

Through their unprecedented work, they are building strong resource and support networks like no other. Their Mission is to connect, support, honor, and serve the partners and spouses of America’s LGBT service members and veterans – our nation’s modern military families.

This particular gala had ornate architecture and a sprawling bar that showcased delicious wines, great conversation and memorable times.

At the event, I was able to mingle with several modern military families at the reception.  I learned so much about various trials and tribulations military couples endure even to this day.

Although “Dont Ask Dont Tell” has been repealed since 2008, many couples still deal with ramifications and hardships due to society’s constructs.

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Courtesy of JK 

One of my personal favorite moments was when I met this adorable army couple. They had a riot when they found out I had Power Ranger pez dispensers in my purse and started to play with it, and that brought in a bigger, more boisterous crowd. This gala was a celebration of love and joy and everyone was able to unwind and goof off.

The reception opened up with remarks from notable staff and with military influencers. The gala closed with goals on how to enhance AMPA’s mission and with scoring scholarship funds (thanks to Comcast) for military spouses who want to go back to school.

If you want to support the American Military Partner Association, visit their website here

About American Military Partner Association

The American Military Partner Association is the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, families, and allies of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members and veterans. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded by the partners of active duty service members, AMPA has grown to the strength of over 50,000 members and supporters and is proud to be leading the nation in education, advocacy, and support for our modern military families. Through our unprecedented work, we’re building strong resource and support networks like no other.

Right to Bear Arts Benefit Gala: Red Carpet & Advocacy

 

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MSNBC’s Greta VanSustern

The White House correspondents dinner tends to be a huge event in the Washington D.C area. What many non D.C residents may not know is that there’s the main dinner and there are are sprinkling of exclusive dinners connected to the big event.  With many White house Correspondent parties getting cancelled, the Creative Coalition stepped up to open up their gala.

I had an exclusive invite this year to attend the 4th annual Creative Coalition #RightToBearArts gala on April 28, 2017. This star-studded event was held at Flavio DC, one of Georgetown’s premier Italian restaurants.

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Here I am with Christine Social!

This year’s gala was relevant to the times,  especially since the recent  proposed budget cuts  may eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and this program is responsible for kids across the nation to visit art museums, learn literature, music, theater, design and beyond. NEA is an independent federal agency that funds funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation.

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Corporation for Public Broadcasting President, Patricia Harrison.

The event was attended by  The Creative Coalition’s celebrity delegation headed to Capitol Hill earlier that day in an effort to bring  their “#RightToBearArts” campaign to elected officials.  The delegation was comprised of:  Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, Sarah Wayne Callies (“Prison Break”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Chad Lowe (“Pretty Little Liars”), Alyssa Milano (“Mistresses”), Denis O’Hare (“American Horror Story”), Nick Sandow (“Orange Is the New Black”), Aaron Staton (“Mad Men”),  and Matt Walsh (“Veep”).

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Wendi Mclendon-Covey (The Goldbergs & Bridesmaids)

Along with the delegation, leading Washingtonians, top celebrities, and media convened to dine on a delicious 3-course menu.

The sweltering heat, did not stop me from having some interesting one-on-one interviews with Chad Lowe, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Matt Walsh, and Sarah Wayne Callies. 

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Chad Lowe

Each star had their own views on federals cuts towards the arts. What we can all agree upon is that a slash to art funding will  not only upend the nations future by depriving a healthy outlet for children to expand their minds but will also curb resources in poorer regions to be able to cultivate one’s critical thinking skills.

Question:  What are your thoughts on the federal cuts to the arts programs?

Chad Lowe: So, ironically, enough the Federal Government wants to increase spending on Defense but wants to cut the Arts funding. Keep in mind spending for the arts is only just 0.004 percent of the budget. The federal government must set an example of prioritizing funding for the arts. What most people don’t realize is that the arts funding is not going directly, per se, to Hollywood. This funding goes directly to theaters, museums, dance classes, workshops, and other outlets that let children from all walks of life be able to participate in. Funding of the arts spreads to the greatness  of the country and even secures our status as a great nation to the world. Where we are placed in the history books is how we value and treat our citizens.  The arts shape history and also preserve our culture. The arts withstand the test of time by cultivating a society and enriching those to find their potential. By cutting out the arts from people’s lives, we are taking away a basic human necessity for further growth.

Matt Walsh: Money has been going into this infrastructure for quite some time.  A contribution to the arts directly correlates with college enrollment, top university success, and with creative minds ready to embark on making a change for the world. Without enough resources for the arts, kids will not be able to develop stronger independence skills or be able to have the confidence to make their own path, whether if it’s in the arts field or elsewhere.

Wendi Mclendon-Covey: So we all went up to the Hill today to advocate for the Arts. This is unsurprising but both parties were on our side. There’s bipartisan support for having the arts.

Sarah Wayne Callies: The arts balances out children, adults, everyone. We need the arts in order to thrive as a collective society and to get even better.

 

 

This event was also sponsored by  Hollywood on the Potomac, Maestro Dobel Tequila, Line 39 Wines,Blue Moon Brewing, and Blackwing Pencils.

About The Creative Coaltion

The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Founded in 1989 by prominent figures in the creative community, including actors Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon and Blair Brown, TCC educates and mobilizes leaders in the arts community on issues of public importance, specifically in the areas of First Amendment rights, arts advocacy and public education.