An American Girl in Washington

DC is so much better than this

Posted in Just another day in DC by AGinDC on 21 April 2011

Washington, DC is capable of pulling off some of the most glamorous, most well-run and most envied events of the season.  Granted, many of these are put on by or for the White House (state dinners, correspondent’s dinner, inaugural balls), but a lot of them are also put on by the many really excellent organizations around town (Artini, Gold Cup, Fashion’s Night Out).  However, there are also times when DC comes off looking like a small, southern, podunk hole in the wall  Last night was one of those times.

A couple of friends and I went to the Style & Image Network’s Beauty Night Out.  This event was advertised as ” a night of beauty, pampering and socializing with beautiful people, entertaining company”.  Hahahahaha.  I should sue them for false advertising.  What was false about it?  Where do I begin?

1.  Let’s start with the cost.  There were three ways to get into this thing, you could buy $35 advance tickets online (my friend T did this), you could buy a $20 Groupon (L did this), or, if you really suck and just found out about the event three hours before you went, you could pay $45 at the door (Yep, me).  That’s right, $45.  In DC.  For $45 of my hard earned money in this town I expect a hell of a lot of beauty, pampering and socializing.  Instead, the only thing that kept me from losing my copacetic was that the money (a small portion, I’m sure) is going to Fashion Fights Poverty.

2.  The venue.  The event was at Long View Gallery, which is actually a great little space.  Emphasis on little.  While this may be a fantastic urban art gallery, it was exactly the wrong place for at least 300 women, the world’s smallest bar (more on that later) and even the very few vendors on hand.  The entire place was crowded, the lines zigzagged across the room and it was basically the worst place imaginable for an event of this capacity.  Not only that but there was a huge area in the back that could have been accommodated with tables and chairs and instead had one sad little round table and a security guard.  Really?

3. The vendors.  For $45 I expected a LOT of vendors, all offering samples and wares and services for free.  This was, after all, what was advertised.  What did we get instead?  There was one poor little nail station, an exhausted looking masseuse, a skin care station with some product none of us had ever heard of, two vintage clothing stores with minimal wares (their owners looked furious and desperate), two tacky jewelry stands (their owners were nowhere to be found), an Asian diet plan table (don’t ask, we didn’t), Hello Cupcake (thank God for those mini lemon cupcakes of heaven), an Honest Tea station, and a sad little purse swap station (I had a feeling the event would be a bust when the website advertised Dooney & Bourke and Fossil as “designer”).  The lines for the nails and the tragic masseuse were at least 40 people deep at all times.  Everything else was abandoned. Or, as abandoned as something can be when it is surrounded by swarming and uninterested crowds.

4.  The bar.  Once we realized that we had been robbed we decided to console ourselves with a drink.  Oddly enough, there was no line.  L nailed it when she observed that a free bar without a line must be truly sad indeed.  And boy was she right.  Stuffed into one tiny little corner was a bar where two rather good looking men were pouring a pale liquid into plastic cups.  Halfway.  And no, they would not fill the cups if you asked.  It turned out, they were doing us a favor.  This liquid, which I will generously call “wine” was some of the most vile-tasting vino imaginable.  It tasted mildly of sparkling urine.  This was pretty much the last straw for me.  Or so I thought.

5.  The swag bag.  When we came in to the event the only person to get a little pink ticket was T.  It turns out that the only people to get swag bags were the few lucky souls who had purchased advanced tickets online.  So not only did the Groupon girls not get anything but we poor suckers who paid $45 at the door, the most anyone paid to get into this event, got bupkiss.  I would have been more angry, but then I looked in T’s reusable cotton Kenneth Cole grocery bag of sadness.  Inside were PopChips (I swear), a tiny vial of Udder Cream, a tinier vial of Kiehl’s lotion, a plain black pen taped to an ad for a fashion show that costs $75, is in Virginia, and is hosted by Paul Wharton, a $50 gift certificate towards services at Mandarin Spa (where the least expensive thing I could find cost $130, but still definitely the best thing by far), and a few other equally unimpressive items.  The bag was tackiness personified.  Itemified?  Whatever, it was sad.

So, AG, you say, here you are complaining about every little thing.  How could it have been better?

Let me count the ways:

1.  If 90% of your vendors are going to be charging for their products, then the event should be free.  If it’s free then we’re more likely to buy things/pay for services and then you can take 15% off of that for the charity and nobody feels like they got screwed.

2.  The venue needs to be bigger, more conducive to crowds and long lines, and organized much, much better (or at all).

3.  Don’t serve shitty wine.  DC is a sophisticated crowd, especially when it comes to our alcohol.  Don’t serve me Freixnet and tell me it’s Piper Hendricks.

4.  Everyone should get a gift bag.

5.  The gift bags should not suck.

6.  Would a little music kill you?

7.  Would food kill you?

8.  This was a highly publicized event that attracted hundreds of young professional women willing to spend $20-45 for a ticket.  There is almost no easier attraction for great sponsors and high end vendors.  The fact that you could not do that is evidence that you didn’t bother to try.  Next time, try.

9.  The only information about the charity this was supposedly for, Fashion Fights Poverty, were a bunch of casually tossed brochures on the purse swap table.  If this is a fundraiser, make it known.

10.  Professionalism.  Class.  Sophistication.  DC has a lot of this.  This event did not.

I got two really positive things out of last night.  1- I got to spend time with a couple of new friends who I really really like.  2- I saw firsthand that there are hundreds (probably thousands) of women in this city  absolutely craving great fashion, great events, and a market that will cater to them.  And they want it downtown, not in Friendship Heights and not in impossible-to-get-to Georgetown.  This is great news for the city and if really smart people catch on to this it could be the next wave in turning DC from The Hill + to a cosmopolitan city that just happens to be the center of the political universe as well.  And I think we all can benefit from that.

Now how do I get on this committee?



8 Responses

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  1. Lisa Rowan said, on 21 April 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I was curious as to how this event would go–thanks for sharing your thoughts! Clearly, I didn’t miss much.

    • AGinDC said, on 22 April 2011 at 10:44 am

      Definitely not. Hopefully there are better events for us in the future!

  2. Dara said, on 21 April 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I was there too, and I concur wholeheartedly.

    • AGinDC said, on 22 April 2011 at 10:43 am

      We’ll have to work on finding better-run events in the future…

  3. elsabaawi3 said, on 21 April 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Perfect description of a sad, sad event. And again, apologies for suggesting it. My next event suggestion will be much better! (It would be pretty hard to do worse.)

    • AGinDC said, on 22 April 2011 at 10:42 am

      Whatevs, I got to hang out with you and T so it was totally worth it!

  4. Jesse said, on 25 April 2011 at 11:16 am

    So well written that if enough people read this, surely one of them would move to DC and make a million dollars. I read techcrunch and this is better than most of their observations. Halfway through I actually felt the urge to do it myself, if I weren’t such a writer.

    • AGinDC said, on 25 April 2011 at 11:18 am

      Thanks! And yeah, there is so much possibility here, it’s sad to see it squandered like this.

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