Julep Ball recap [Kentucky Derby]

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I learned two new things at Friday night's Julep Ball. One: black tie is totally open to interpretation. Two: as is the definition of celebrity during Derby season. No matter, I'm a total celebrity whore and I worked that red carpet like Ryan Seacrest last night, folks.

All snarkiness aside, it was a beautiful affair. And the Julep Ball set records Friday night in their fund-raising efforts to research and fight cancer. The Galt House Inn and Suites in downtown Louisville drew over 1,300 people, who enjoyed delicious food, drink and great entertainment. Through their live and silent auction, the Julep Ball was able to raise a record-breaking $134,810 for the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

Among the crowds of energetic party-goers were many celebrities, and sort-of celebrities who shimmied, shaked and hobbled down the red carpet.  First up was former UofK basketball coach Tubby Smith. Basketball sort of bores me, so I didn't listen to what he was saying. I'm a total nerd though, so when Dr. James Watson (co-discoverer of the DNA structure) walked through, I was primed and ready to pounce like a cat. I heard he was a tennis fan, so as an ice-breaker I asked him:

“Dr. Watson, have you played tennis in Louisville yet?” (the reporters from Courier-Journal looked at me like I was a moron).

Dr. Watson paused and said, “Sadly, no.” and walked away...

Next down the carpet was the duo, Cheri Oteri and Illeana Douglas. In town performing “Celebrity Autobiography” at the Kentucky Center, both actresses were charming and talkative. I taught Cheri what a fascinator is, and told her women in Kentucky generally cannot dress (myself included), and she told me I was funny. Saturday Night Live, here I come.

Bob the Bachelor was all smiles and charm on the red carpet. I confirmed that yes, he is indeed a bachelor again after his divorce from wife Rebecca Budig last year. Ian Somerhalder from Vampire Diaries (and Boone from Lost) also graced his pale, beautiful vampire charm on the red carpet. Both gave long, obviously rehearsed spiels about fighting cancer at the Julep Ball. But hey, I guess they could both be at the Barnstable-Brown party, so I should really give them props.

Bill Paxton from Big Love showed up wearing sunglasses while holding up his elderly father. Also in attendance was Miss Kentucky (Djuan Trent), wearing an ill-fitting dress, Baywatch star Melissa Biggs, R.E.M.  bass player Mike Mills, and a bunch of other people I had not heard of in years. 1996 had called and they wanted their Derby back.

The party itself was exquisite. Flanking the cocktail room were several signature bars featuring various liquors and drinks. There was a iced vodka bar, a champagne bar, a martini bar, and my personal favorite- the Proseco bar.  

Off the the sides of the cocktails were smaller rooms that guests could find entertainment in. One minute I'd find myself in a silent auction, the next I was in a dimly-lighted lounge room with a d.j. spinning Portishead.   Aside from all the pretty celebrities (hello, Ian Somerhalder), the décor was delicious. Lush, tropical blue lights blanketed the walls of the ballroom and the flowers were tasteful and elegant.

Guests were entertained with music all night long and were treated to the acrobatics show Lyralicious. Party-goers wined, dined and mingled with celebs until 1:30 in the morning. The piece de resistance came at towards the end of the night when White Castle cheeseburgers where served. It clearly doesn't take much to make me happy. I stood and marveled at the sight of celebrities and other guests happily chomping away on sliders together as Julep Ball was winding down. All in all, the Julep Ball was a great way to kick off Derby and raise money for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.   

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