The majority of New Yorkers rejoiced in last week’s burst of balmy weather. Flowers seemed to bloom as city dwellers shed layers of clothing, and Shindigger was kept as busy as a bee with an overloaded printemps social schedule.
Last Monday night, for example, in a three-hour span, we buzzed from cocktails at New York Academy of Art’s Tribeca Ball in honor of Bob Colacello to flamenco dancing at Ballet Hispanico’s 2013 Spring Gala at The Plaza, and then on to a Peggy Siegal-orchestrated premiere for LD Entertainment’s new film Disconnect.
And yet, in spite of our hurried pace that evening, we still found time for a last hibernal hurrah, as we hit the ice at the Skating with the Stars benefit gala for figure skating in Harlem. This year’s event, held in Central Park, honored designer B Michael and sportscaster Andrea Joyce.
Those in attendance represented some of figure skating’s finest, as well as some of the organization’s strongest supporters: Rhonda Ross, Miss America Mallory Hagan, Carson Kressley, Tamara Tunie, Tara Lipinski, Evan Lysacek and Dick Button could all be found enjoying cocktails around a fast-thawing Wollman Rink.
“I’ve been to this event for years—years!” exclaimed fashion maven Vera Wang, who was a formidable figure skater in her time and is now one of the most sought-after costume designers for today’s competitors.
“My favorite move was a double Lutz,” continued Ms. Wang, who was honored at last year’s event. “I really believe in the importance of sports to empower young women. I think these girls are so amazing for figure skating in Harlem. I think this event is a way of not only giving back to them, but the city.”
Shindigger asked Ms. Wang how her blades were coping with the evening’s warm weather and slushy ice.
“I’ve been on already, and I’m going on again,” she laughed, shifting from one of her white skates to the other. “But it is melting,” she allowed in a loud hush.
Grabbing a glass of red wine, Shindigger then made for Olympic champion Scott Hamilton, who had his Harlicks on and insisted that the 70-degree temperature had actually encouraged him to give the ice a go: “I never bring my skates to this,” he confessed. “But when I saw what the weather was gonna be, I packed them.”
Like Ms. Wang, Mr. Hamilton also fancied the Lutz. “When I was competing, it was always the triple Lutz that was my favorite,” he said. “That was the jump I never missed. When I was performing professionally, it was the backflip.”
We weren’t so sure the 54-year-old would attempt any flashy acrobatics on this night. After a lap around the bar and buffet, Shindigger ran into the bubbly 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen. Had she been on the ice, we wondered?
“It’s better now that the sun is setting. Earlier there were a lot of splashes,” Ms. Cohen warned. “We might need a Zamboni soon.”
Did that mean she wouldn’t be performing one of her signature spins that involve lifting a leg straight overhead?
“I was the first one that did it, so I gravitate toward that,” she said with a big smile—but probably not tonight.
After refilling our wine, Shindigger asked Ms. Cohen how she felt about the event’s mix of booze and skating, especially with so many amateurs slipping and sliding across the ice.
“I think it makes everyone a little more friendly, a little less apprehensive,” she said. “It’s a casual cocktail hour for a great cause. Everyone’s having a good time.”
Off the ice, Ms. Cohen divulged that she was a busy gal, designing a line of custom figure skates for Klingbeil (her preferred brand for competition) and attending classes at Columbia. “I also started a line of socks, and I have a boyfriend, which takes up most of my time. I have to show you his picture,” she giggled, slipping out her iPhone. “I get so excited.”
But can he skate, we wondered?
“No,” Ms. Cohen sighed. “He did buy a skating lesson with me, though, at a charity auction. He hasn’t used it yet.”
The poor guy is probably intimidated to skate with a former U.S. champion.
Before heading off into the night, Shindigger had to say just one more hello. Armed with another glass of wine, we approached Johnny Weir, the popular theatrical skater, who was surrounded by a gaggle of young fans and was sporting some sort of gravity-defying hairdo. Mr. Weir was clearly having a blast, posing and primping for whoever would engage.
When a passing attendee tottered on her toe-pick and nearly splattered—vodka soda and all—into a rink-side table, we asked Mr. Weir for his thoughts on the mixture of booze and skating. He said, “The only people who show up here know how to skate, or at least can hold the wall really well.”
Shindigger could hold back no longer.
“Tell us about your ’do tonight,” we prodded, needing to understand exactly how or why Mr. Weir had styled his hair in such a voluminous coiffure, which resembled a pile of snuggling otter pups.
“I wanted to be something really bold and forward, like Harlem,” Mr. Weir explained with a limber swing of his lemon-hued Céline bag. “So I did balls of Halloween wig underneath a weave. My guy knows to keep balls on standby for me.”
Halloween? we thought. How very out of season.