Hanging with the beautiful people at the kick-off party for Ungala.
By Hannah Wallace
My hockey leagues are getting into high gear this time of year, so you know what that means: Hannah has no money.
This is the time of year when mooching is a must.
So Paul Mattison’s invite to the UnParty Friday evening was like sweet sweet unmanna from heaven. Of course, it had its stresses, too.
Despite my earlier statement about wanting to spend a lot of money on a gala gown, I was a little late in assembling a party outfit and alternately dreamed and dreaded a what-are-you-wearing inquiry: “Well, the shirt’s from Target, shoes are Nine West from TJMaxx. The necklace I untangled from a mass in my mother’s jewelry box. And the real highlight of the finery, the stretchy skirt of indeterminable spandex-like material? I think that came from Goodwill, but I’ve had it so long I don’t remember anymore.”

CCB spent more on his tie than I did on my whole outfit—and that tie was on clearance.


CCB AND ME: Dressed and coiffed, we pose for a pre-UnParty self-portrait.

When we got there, for a few nightmarish moments I was afraid my name was not on the list.. “Have you already paid?” the man with the list asked. I hesitated, “Um, I was…invited? I think?” With nary a Benjamin in my wallet, the $50 tickets, in this case, would have forced a red-faced about-face.
But no, he found me, we were given wristbands and waved on in. It was almost too easy.
Once inside, we took in the excitement: Fabulous food, several free  bars, live music, and the energy and ambition of Sarasota’s beautiful—and occasionally booby-ful—people.
I quickly remembered that, hey, I don’t know anybody in this crowd.
After an hour of pita munching and watching our cosmopolitans coast down the spirally Ketel One ice fountain, CCB and I had run out of ways to pretend we were fitting in. We decided to try latching onto my landlord, an UnGala committee member who looked for all the world like he belonged to Sarasota society. He turned out to be grateful for the company, and when we banded together, the party started to feel more like home.
We sat down at a table and actually drew people to it. In Sarasota, two’s lonely; three’s a power circle. We stayed hours longer than we’d planned, discussing fishing spots and mountain biking (and, briefly, the behind-the-scenes circumstances of “the UnGala blog incident” that had stemmed, ultimately, from my willingness to talk in detail about my own lack of financial savvy). It was awesome.
But I’m sure what you really want is insider information, so here you go: One of the UnParty’s gimmicks is that it holds clues to this year’s super-secret UnGala theme. (How important is it that you solve this puzzle? If the theme of the gala is “pretzel dogs,” does your gown have to be brat-colored or do you just expect pigs-in-blankets as part of the spread?) The pressure of the mystery made me go a little Inspector Clouseau as I pondered the significance of each party detail. “Ooh, these fashion show dresses are all sort of pinkish-orange…salmon…sushi…Japan…. WWII…Nazis…toothbrush mustache…crazy cuts and dental health—I’ve got it!”
And with that, I’m proud to announce that I’ve cracked their code: The 2007 UnGala theme, ladies and gentleman, is hockey hair. You heard it here first.