Asher on Aspen: Night on the Nile
Asher on Aspen
I was greeted by a woman in a Cleopatra headdress, wearing gold snake earrings who welcomed me with a glass of Champagne. Within moments of arrival, I was transported into an Egyptian-themed wonderland from floor to ceiling.
“Boogie sure knows how to throw a party,” I thought.
Bash for the Buddies is what some locals refer to as one of Aspen’s best summer parties — a lavish spectacle to which people long to be invited. The intent of this eventful soiree is to raise money for the Buddy Program, the local nonprofit serving youth in the Roaring Fork Valley for over 40 years. The theme, however, is what really sets this celebration apart. The staff goes all out in terms of embellishing the theme to the extreme. Last year it was a circus, a rock-star theme the year before that and now for the 20th anniversary: Ancient Egypt.
An enormous tent placed in the backyard that holds over 500 guests is where the Gatsby-esque party takes place. Patrons marvel at the views of the Elk Mountain range from the ranch. The night starts off with a cocktail hour called “Taste of Aspen,” featuring a silent auction, light bites from local chefs and fancy cocktails from local mixologists. The black-tie rendezvous is located at Gail and Lenny “Boogie” Weinglass’ Merry-go-Ranch on McLain Flats (about a 15-minute drive from downtown Aspen).
Tables are decorated with antique lanterns and black vases holding gold-brushed palm fronds. Flower pots with gold succulents adorn the cocktail tables. With tickets ranging from $500 to $2,500 for individuals and from $10,000 to $50,000 for tables, the guests in attendance were no doubt Aspen’s elite. Just one glance around the room and I observe Boogie and Bob Braudis sparking up a conversation.
From a distance, I spotted a friend, but I think her necklace is actually what caught my eye first.
“My agency called this morning and asked if I would pick up a last-minute modeling job. I was told to wear this necklace around the bash and walk onstage wearing it for the live auction,” my friend said while showing off her stunning tanzanite and diamond pendant, set in 18K white-gold with an 18K white-gold chain valued at $34,690.
“Only in Aspen,” I thought.
I sit down for dinner with Christopher at an exotic-looking, wildly-whimsical table that looked like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. Marbled plates with gold accents, smoke-black glassware and gold silverware are perfectly positioned on the table at which we are about to dine. A long-stemmed wine glass sits quietly in front of me waiting to be filled.
Gold bangles and paddles fly fiercely into the air as soon as the live auction begins. I delve in to meet my neighbors for a quick meet-and-greet but before I even say my name, a server leans in to ask if I want salmon, steak or chicken.
While politely passing around the plate of potatoes, we watch a heartfelt video that tells the story of the Buddy Program, describing the immense impact a “big buddy” can have on someone’s life. Cue the Sarah McLaughlin song from the animal rescue commercials. The evening honored Mona Look-Mazza and Tony Mazza for their years of support and Tony specifically for his role as a big buddy. The video went on to explain how this event works to raise money to support the Buddy Program’s critical programs that serve over 500 youth a year.
The lights flicker back on and sniffly guests turn toward their neighbors with tear-filled eyes to express their newfound interest in becoming a big buddy. After an exciting live auction, the room was suddenly consumed by drums resonating from the back of the venue. Everyone stopped mid-conversation to direct their attention to the fully disguised mummies wrapped from head to toe now marching through the venue and heading toward the stage. Here Come the Mummies was the name of the band that entertained the evening’s festivities and who perfectly matched the theme of the affair.
“What in God’s name?” murmured an elderly woman wearing a beaded headpiece and a tight gold dress who looked as if she just raided Cleopatra’s closet.
The band took charge and immediately attracted partygoers to the dance floor. Here Come the Mummies is an intriguing band due to their mysterious personas. Rumor has it that they cover themselves in mummy wraps to hide the fact that they are Grammy-winning studio musicians who prefer to remain anonymous. We may never know who lies beneath the mummy wraps, but I think everyone at the party can agree that they were effortlessly entertaining.
The dance floor was filled with happy guests now transfixed by the mummy spectacle performing in front of them. I snuck away from the scene for a moment to snatch one of the devilishly handsome desserts that I scouted from afar. The choice was between lemon bars or baklava — how appropriate.
We found out later that this single fundraiser ended up raising over $900,000 for the Buddy Program. Even though I was not able to contribute monetarily, the event made me walk away with a newfound appreciation for the organization and a strong desire to step up and become a big buddy.