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Columbia Event Breakdown: The 2010 AKA Pink Ice Gala

One word: Bravo! What more can I say? On Friday night, the Gamma Nu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated managed to present another exquisite affair that brought out Columbia’s most noted citizens, as well as, the just-as-fabulous lesser-knowns.

I was truly fascinated by the parade of youthful, buff-shouldered, bronzed back-baring beauties that strutted unabashedly down the red carpet, as well as, the refined elegance of the more mature ladies in their sequined gowns and authentic mink coats. No faux fur for them!

I, somehow, fell in the middle of the two generations of ladies… not young enough to brazenly dash around the room disregarding decorum and proper presentation, and not old enough to sit elegantly aside and turn all the fun over to the younger ladies. So what do I do? Make an appropriate number of well-executed runway twirls with Pink Ice aficionado and radio talk show host, Cynthia Hardy.

First item on the ‘must do’ list: the food line, of course. I sashayed to the buffet service table and put a minimal amount of food on my plate. I couldn’t stand the risk of getting an unsightly stomach bulge; thus ruining my silhouette in my perfectly-suited backless black dress. Never that!

The food, which was catered by the Brookland Banquet and Conference Center was good. (Since the catering was overseen by the church, which is under the covenant of the Lord, I’d better just leave it at that!)

Next item on the agenda, pictures. As the ladies of OnPoint! (Cynthia , Laura Elam and I) made our way through the crowd looking for a photographer, we were disappointed when we found none. So we ended up taking cell phone pictures by the backdrop at front entrance.

After I settled into the event and was able to see beyond the glam, I noted a few things that would have made the event feel more grand and formal. Like a chandelier. When I looked above, there was no chandelier. How wonderful it would have been to be twirled underneath a chandelier in a grand ballroom. I know the Pink Ice turns out more than 2500 people every year and it’s hard to find a venue in Columbia, other than the Canty Building at the SC State Fairground, large enough to accommodate that many people. But I really would have felt like Princess Tiana (complete with my new $125 rhinestone slippers) if I could have gotten a twirl under a crystal chandelier by my prince charming of a date.

It also would have been great to see more men in tuxedos. I admit there’s no way I could have seen every one of those fine men at the ball, but I only recall seeing a handful of men (more like three) in traditional tuxedos. Since the women were exquisitely dressed in everything from pink and green tutu-like dresses to fully sequined black gowns, I wish the men had dressed with the same enthusiasm as the women.

Ok. So the food was ok; there was no photographer that I saw; no chandelier and limited men in tuxedos. Why was this event such a hit? Simple. The Finesse Band and the sisterhood of the AKA’s.

The Finesse Band was absolutely wonderful. Lead singer, Eric Mayweather, keyboardist Byron Counts, guitarist and band leader Terrance Young and the other band members sang old school and new school better than I’ve ever heard before. They played the perfect mix of Frankie Beverly and Maze for the swingers, slow jams for the lovers, Motown for the older crowd and line dance music for the unaccompanied. Their entertainment factor contributed to the success of this event more than any other single component.

And now, the AKA’s. Since I’m a Sigma Gamma Rho, I’m well aware of this Greek superiority complex that AKA’s typically have. And every other Greek sorority will agree with me when I say, its all in their minds. But when you can a throw a gala affair like this year after year, I can see why their egos are so grand!

During the second half of the evening, I strolled around the room for my final mix and mingle. Who did we see? Roll call: I saw old boyfriends with their new women (who clearly don’t hold a candle to me). I saw old girlfriends with their new men (who nearly were glowing like candles). I also saw Congressmen and school board officials; radio personalities and talk show hosts. I saw doctors and lawyers; mayoral candidates and book authors. But mostly what I saw was scores of beautiful, well-dressed people, exquisitely adorned with broad smiles on their faces. People just like you and me who don’t always have a reason to get dressed up in formal attire.

That’s what the AKA’s do so wonderfully year after year… give everyone a reason to brave threats of ice and snow, to get their hair did and their nails done; to visit a professional make-up artist; to buy $125 rhinestone shoes; to break out the dress they bought years ago, just waiting for the perfect occasion to wear it. That’s why this event has come to be the premier event in Columbia, SC.

Kudos go out to the Gamma Nu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc and especially Jolanda Hardy, who hosted the BOMB table. You ladies rock!

Upcoming events that will get the break down are: Beat to Hip with Amiri Baraka, on Friday, February 12 at USC’s Swearingen Engineering Center and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family on Saturday, February 13 at the Colonial Center. Edit

2 comments

I've been a bit remiss in commenting on your latest write-ups and now want to summarize my opinions of them - great as usual! They are all quite enjoyable and typical of your insightful perspective, but the one about the Pink Ice Gala really resonated with me. Why? Particularly because of your points about so many of the men in attendance not being appropriately attired. Perhaps a better way of stating that is "not being equally and complementarily attired for the ladies they were accompanying or with whom they wished to socialize". It's a subject about which we've railed in many of our travelogues including those written about long ago trips to the Caribbean and more recent ones pertaining to Myrtle Beach. There is nothing more sad than to observe a lady appropriately well attired for whatever an event might be, whether a picnic or a ball, and see her escort as nothing less than a total slob, comparatively speaking. Unfortunately, it's quite commonplace these days. To us it's an indication of disrespect, selfishness, laziness, lack of pride in one's self, and, quite frankly, ignorance about proper dress. There, now I've got that off my chest! Delete Reply

Ed, I agree, but let me add. These women should take it upon themselves to insist that their escorts dress appropriately for the occasion. I remember my first date with my boyfriend,(who became my spouse 16 yrs. later), when I saw what he had on, I simply stated "you're not going with me dressed like that", guess what he changed his attire. We as women should set the standards. Sometimes, it pays to not be so desperate(to have an escort), you can have fun going stag. Life is what you make it. Delete Reply

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