by Wendy Lemlin
The way the Pink Lady was partying at her birthday bash, you’d never know she was 90 years old! Always the gracious and fun hostess, she pulled out all the stops, eating, drinking, and dancing the night away with almost 300 guests, all the while looking lovelier than ever.
The Pink Lady, of course, is the La Valencia Hotel, an icon in the heart of La Jolla Village. La V’s 90th Birthday Gatsby Gala, held on December 15, was a lavish Roaring-20s themed celebration worthy of comparison to any party The Great Gatsby himself would have thrown. Champagne and Prohibition Era inspired cocktails flowed freely, food tables groaned with a vast assortment of delicacies, and the “speakeasy” dance floor was packed. Most of the guests donned period attire, the women resplendent in a sparkling abundance of beads and sequins, the men either going for straw boater-style hats or more formally dressed in tails or dinner jackets.
Too opulent to be confined to just one room, the party spilled out into all of La Valencia’s dining and public spaces on two floors, with each area offering a slightly different experience. As guests entered the lobby, they were handed glasses of champagne, poured from the tower of Moët & Chandon bottles stacked invitingly, while servers circulated with tray-passed hors d’oeuvres. In The Med dining room, a large table of cheeses, fruits and chacuterie took center stage, while on either side of the room’s
entrance, tables of Executive Chef Alex Emery’s never-ending culinary creations included such delicacies as crab claws, oysters, Baja shrimp, cauliflower pannacotta, L’Arpege egg, scallops on the half shell, beef canapés, and so much more. Mini flower pots held “plantings” of baby carrots and lettuces in olive tapenade and cheese “soil”.
The patio off of the dining room was transformed into a jazz club with live band and flapper dancers performing ala the nightclub scenes in Chicago—I kept hoping to hear “And all That Jazz”. The La Sala Lounge morphed into a ballroom, where Wayne Foster and his band played everything from the hits of the 1920s to Uptown Funk, and everyone sang along to familiar songs like Dancing Queen and Sweet Caroline as they danced, and danced, and danced. Classic cocktails were served at the Bootleg Bar. Upstairs in La Galeria, overlooking the band and dancers reveling in La Sala, platters of cookies and other sweets were set out on tables by comfortable chairs and couches, coffee and teas were available, and a sideboard bar held bottles of top shelf liquors. Everything was included in the $290 ticket price, with the party doubling as a charity event benefiting the La Jolla Historical Society.
The Pink Lady may be 90 years old, but she has no plans to slow down. Like all of us, though, she can always appreciate some relaxation and pampering, so, look for a new signature spa coming to La Valencia in 2017!