Is there a better place to kick off National Gay Pride Week with a garden party than in the rose garden of the city famous for the Tournament of Roses parade and named the second gayest city in America by New York City-based LGBT magazine The Advocate? The Pasadena-adjacent Huntington Library opened its beautiful rose garden for 600 guests and "An Evening Among the Roses" was a sold-out success on Friday, 6 June 2014.
Rumor has it that tickets were being sold on Craigslist.
Co-hosted by Jonathan Weedman of the Wells Fargo Foundation and Raymundo Balthazar (Project Runway), tickets were only $45 but the experience was worth so much more and that's even before you got to open your swag bags.
Honoree of the night was Don Bachardy, a renowned American portrait artist, but also a partner of a major gay literary figure, the late Christopher Isherwood.
The Huntington houses the archives of Christopher Isherwood, most famous for his "The Berlin Stories." Isherwood (1904-1986) was in Berlin to enjoy the gay scene that flourished before the restrictive and ultimately deadly Nazi regime took power. Although originally, wild boys debauchery was not depicted in the first play ("I Am a Camera") and the original musical "Cabaret" that the stories inspired, Bob Fosse's Academy Award-winning musical film "Cabaret" open up that topic and the Broadway revivals since has dealt with the Nazi oppression of the LGBT population along with the darkening situation for the Jewish population.
Isherwood's papers at the Huntingon includes correspondence with his close friends: W.H. Auden, E.M. Forster and Stephen Spender. It also includes letters from Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams and Somerset Maugham.
Barhardy is a petite, spry man. Dressed in a slate blue-gray suit that was set off by a florescent pink tie, he recalled Isherwood but reminded the party goers that he's also very much a part of the Huntington. Fifty Barchardy portraits of individuals are represented in the Isherwood papers. The legacy of both men are part of the Huntington's cultural collections.
You could imagine yourself gliding around with the richest of the rich by enjoying the rare evening access to the Huntington Art Gallery. If you were a quick, you might have caught a tango in one of the beautiful wood-floored rooms.
Outside, Matthew Rubino of Project Slate provided some 1980s tunes (no tango available) as the guests picked up made-on-the-spot corsages by the Arcadia-based Margit Holakoui, a florist who was originally from Pasadena and lingers in the area. Pink lemonade champagne, but other drinks were available. The food stands included a selection of cheeses and dips with crackers and bread, fresh fruit kabobs and Chinese chicken salad in small white take-out cartons and a bountiful little desserts (lemon bars, brownies, Key lime pudding, chocolate tarts, fruit tarts and more.
Waitpersons circulated with lamb chops, pigs in a blanket, crab cakes, lobster salad on endive leaves, and shrimp cocktail.
In time, the party will surely develop a character of its own from the elegance of ladies with beautiful hats to men in bright patterned suits to pseudo-nuns in bright habits. Anything goes, but one wishes to plan ahead for the next garden party. Don't hesitate when the tickets go on sale. This is a fun, easy going party with easy parking and a leisurely pace.