Springtime is gala time for the moneyed set in New York. Almost every evening, wives squeeze into their newest Oscar de la Renta gowns and head to the Pierre ballroom or Cipriani, while their bored husbands sneak peeks at sports scores during the speeches.
But in an age when the Internet makes it beyond easy to donate to whatever charity you want with the press of a button, isn’t this all a little ridiculous? Wednesday Martin, author of “Primates of Park Avenue” and expert on the weird rites of the Upper East Side, certainly seems to think so. In a new essay in “Town & Country,” the cultural critic asks “Is it Time to Say Bye-Bye to the Black Tie Charity Ball?”
“Like allergies, galas are seasonal,” Martin writes. “They emerge with the forsythia, ebb a bit in summer, and hit hard again in the fall.” Everyone complains about having to go to galas, she points out, but they continue to attend them. Martin has a few theories for why that is.
1) Because people like to show off on social media where they are and what they are doing (like going to a fancy party).
2) People are worried about being shunned from society if they speak out or don’t attend.
Gala chairs are starting to catch on that the parties are boring and trying to liven them up by putting technology like iPads at the tables. Perhaps one day they’ll do the sensible thing and skip the party at the Pierre and the overcooked steak, and just allow people to donate money on those iPads too. [T&C]