Beijing hosts many charity events and balls throughout the calendar year, organized by schools, embassies, and other community groups. Some of the balls I’ve been to have included dancing by the great wall, a Bond themed night, and an African evening. Attending a ball is a wonderful opportunity to get dressed up, enjoy good food and entertainment, and turn a fun social event into an opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile cause. So when I was asked to help organize a ball, namely Dulwich College Beijing’s Charity Dinner Dance, I jumped at the chance. Then came the four months of planning, generating dozens of spreadsheets, hundreds of emails, and a lot of running around. There were hectic moments of course, but it was so much fun. I was working with a fantastic group of parents, and the end result of our team effort was a truly fantastic evening and a wonderful charity supported.
The “theme” for the evening was Viva la Fiesta – Long Live the Party. This theme would influence the food, decorations, music, entertainment, and most importantly, what to wear. Fiestas of all kids are celebrated throughout the world, and our Dinner Dance event would take influence from the fiestas of Spain and Mexico. The venue would be Hilton Beijing Capital Airport Hotel, convenient for Shunyi parents and teachers to get to, and convenient for us as the event organizers to get to for meetings, food tastings, decorating, and table planning. The hotel did a great job of coming up with a menu that reflected our theme for the evening, with lots of lime, cilantro, paprika, croquettes, and a very tasty crème catalana dessert. And of course the cocktail reception wouldn’t be complete without margaritas and mojitos.
We achieved a phenomenal response from the Beijing community, with 70 companies and organizations sponsoring the event by donating prizes, goods, services, or cash. To try and raise the most amount of money we ran a silent auction, a raffle, and an instant win lucky dip. The chosen beneficiary for our event would be Beijing Stars and Rain, China’s first non-governmental educational organization dedicated to serving children with autism. Founded in 1993, they have helped over 6,000 autistic children and their families through their unique parent-training course, which gives parents the skills necessary to educate their own children. They also provide a group home for teenagers with autism and related disabilities. The money is still coming in, but so far we’re around the RMB 110,000 mark, which will make a significant contribution towards the fantastic work they do.
Entertainment at these events is always difficult, the age range of guests is varied, and as Dulwich College Beijing is an international school with 45 different nationalities represented, that’s a vast array of musical tastes to try and please. It’s great to give the students an opportunity to be involved in events like this, and to showcase their talents, so the Dulwich Student Latin Drummers welcomed guests with an impressive performance at the start of the night. For dinner entertainment we wanted something with a Spanish feel. Since 2010, Casa Flamenco studio has been providing flamenco dance and guitar courses, and delivering flamenco performances in China. They can perform traditional Alegrías, dramatic Tangos, and beautiful Tientos, at venues including intimate theatres and on stage at international festivals. For us, they performed a traditional Spanish guitar set, followed by a wonderful flamenco dance performance.
I first came across Alejandro Angulo when he taught Zumba classes at Beijing Riviera. A professional dancer and fitness instructor from Venezuela, now living in China, Angulo is the creator of Salsation, one of the most popular dance programs in Asia. Salsation has been inspired by different cultures, dances and fitness programs, such as Latin aerobics, and Zumba, perfect for our fiesta. Angulo and his dance partner Natasha achieved something amazing for us they managed to get the majority of guests up on their feet and on the dance floor, beside the dance floor, basically anywhere there was space. It was like a salsa class on a big scale, the difference being that the ladies were doing it in heels and the guys in their tux. It was one night that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Casa Flamenco Tue-Fri 7am-9pm, Sat-Sun 2-7pm. 11-1-14, 9 Jianwai Dajie, Qijiayuan Diplomatic Residence Compound, Chaoyang District (8532 1915, 139 1091 4251, firstname.lastname@example.org) 朝阳区建外大街9号齐家园外交公寓11-1-14
Alejandro Angulo www.facebook.com/SalsationByAlejandroAngulo
Beijing Stars and Rain www.guduzh.org.cn
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos: Imagine Photography Studio