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The Ottawa Gala: Doing it for the Kids

By Andrea Grant on April 8, 2011

Photo courtesy of Bartek Kusia on flickr

Monkeys on leashes. In the Government Conference Centre. Among throngs of tipsy party people in strappy heels and slick suits.

The organizers of this year’s Ottawa Gala had a wealth of ideas for bringing their “Midnight in Marrakech” theme to life, but the monkeys stuck with me the most. Unfortunately, while this year’s annual charity formal will have extensive Moroccan-inspired entertainment, decor and treats, logistics will limit attendance to only human primates.

“Our insurance wouldn’t cover real monkeys,” laughed Denise Siele, co-president of the Gala, which will take place on April 16. She and her volunteer team are nonetheless promising a luxurious and memorable night.”

“We want everyone to have a fantastic time and to raise a lot of funds for children of our community,” said Siele. “We can’t afford to disappoint.”

The Ottawa Gala is somewhat of an unusual event for this town’s twenty to forty-something crowd. It’s a rare, open opportunity to attend a party in this beautiful venue: a former train station, featuring lofty ceilings and multiple party rooms (designated for bdancing, mingling, and VIPs at this event). It’s become known as a premiere social soirée, and it tends to draw out even those who would otherwise prefer to keep their suits, sequins and satin in the closet.

“Something really cool about the Gala is the diversity of attendees,” says Sarah Lamarche, the Gala’s other co-president. “You may see your yoga instructor, the meathead you met in a club last week, your pharmacist, or your French teacher. All shaking it.”

When Apartment 613 spoke to the Gala organizers, they – of course – emphasized the palatial ballroom, the entertainment (live Moroccan music! Belly Dancers! DJ Acro!), the snacks, and the cause – all funds raised will go to the Ottawa-Carleton Learning Foundation’s School Breakfast Program. However, having been to multiple Galas in the past, I know that attendees’ best memories of the night tend to be, um, somewhat salacious.

“We literally have to kick people out at the end of the night,” said Siele. “We always need the Ottawa police to help us.” Attendees usually come in looking glamorous but leave in a mess – high heels and silk ties in hand.

Siele also recalled a story from the Gala two years ago, at which a certain police officer met himself a lovely amidst the end-of-night chaos. Having had so much fun, he refused to work the night of the next year’s Gala so he could attend as a guest instead.

Do you want to attend as a guest too?
Tickets are $60, or $125 for VIPs, available online or in person.
Saturday April 16, 8 pm to 2 am.
Government Conference Centre, 2 Rideau Street
Dress code: Black tie optional, chic mandatory


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