Washington, D.C. is a politically driven town. And what goes hand in hand with politics? Socializing. Most nights are full of black-tie events attended by numerous ambassadors, congressional leaders, high-powered lobbyists, journalists and the occasional Hollywood celebrity. Recently, Focus Washington interviewed social expert Kevin Chaffee of Qorvis Communications. Chaffee, a former features editor of the Washington Times and current senior editor of Washington Life Magazine, provided a recap of the D.C. summer social scene as well as a preview of what to expect for the remainder of the summer.
“The conventional wisdom is that after the 4th of July, no parties happen and that D.C. is deader than a doornail” Chaffee says, going on to explain that there is a common misconception that most of the local social elite leave town for the months of July and August. This leaves the blistering summer months of July and August devoid of a legitimate social scene until after Labor Day.
This summer, however, has been a little different. Chaffee stated that this “July was more lively than normal.” The social highlight of the summer was the “Together to End AIDS” event, which was held on July 21st at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The event was hosted by The Foundation for AIDS Research and GBCHealth, and honored billionaire Bill Gates for his philanthropic efforts to combat the AIDS epidemic. Other celebrity guests included actress Sharon Stone, Anderson Cooper, The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole.
In addition to the World AIDS Conference, Washington played host to the Shakespeare Theater’s event honoring actor Stacey Keach on July 23rd. Summer also features a number of embassy parties honoring their respective national holidays. A couple highlights of the diplomatic scene to date were the French Embassy’s July 14th Bastille Day Party and the British Embassy’s event honoring the Queen’s Jubilee. This summer’s marquee embassy event will occur July 27th, when the British Ambassador hosts an exclusive party at his residence to honor the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Another important upcoming social event is the Qorvis book party on August 2nd to celebrate David Wessel’s, economic editor of the Wall Street Journal, new book; “Red Ink.”
While July was unusually busy for the Washington summer social scene, August will be quieter than normal. According to Chaffee, the Democratic and Republican conventions will preoccupy Washington’s elite, thus putting a damper on the August social scene. Members of Congress will be out of the District campaigning for their respective parties. No Congress means that all of the city’s high-powered lobbyists and influential journalists are free to take some much needed family vacations. Also, many high profile ambassadors will either be attending the convention events as guests or using this downtime to return to their native countries.