The City’s Young Society. Riding a Wave from the Past
They seem to emerge right out of Fitzgerald’s world. A crowd extremely crisp, starched, pressed, and toned, so much so that they don’t look real. Found among this crowd are dashing young men of excellent upbringing and shaved necks, monogrammed shirts, and gold wristwatches. Alongside these men are stunning women in high heels with swishy, blunt cuts, little black sheaths, and flawless suntans, irrespective of what season it is.
This crowd harkens back to a grander, more light-hearted era – the 20s? the 80s? – a time when manners were impeccable, and everyone was found to be exceedingly polite even if they harbored a dislike for one another. The time when you would offer someone a drink, even though you could see he had one already. When money was no object – or perhaps it was the sole object.
The crowd consists of people driving European cars like Jaguars, Porsches, Saabs, and the like. One can hear them say things like, “He’s wild but comes from a good family.” They spend their winters in Palm Beach and Aspen and summers in the Hamptons, Nantucket, and Fisher’s Island. And of course, there shouldn’t be any doubt regarding their means of transport, which had to be by air.
They started off their educational journey in boarding schools and moved on to Ivy League colleges perhaps or a Southern Institute like the Vanderbilt. They are distinguished from the common folk by not having any accent, having a perfect posture, and a decent forehand. And they are seen going to parties every single night as if it’s ingrained in them.
They are the nouveau WASP wannabes, Washington’s Young Society.
Picture a regular night at 10 pm at the Spy Club or the Omni Shoreham ballroom. Think of a well-dressed man and his beautiful date walking in with an air of grandeur as if every single entrance of theirs is a sight to behold. The couple looks around the room, searching for a familiar face.
“Are you on the guest list?” a doorman asks.
Indeed, they are.
As soon as they walk down the floor, their steps synchronize perfectly with the beat that envelops the room from the speakers, another couple of similar styles to signify that importance arrives.
The occasion could be anything like the Regatta Ball in April or the “Mission Impossible” party in June, or the Blues Night at the Spy Club tonight. For a Young Socialite, this is just an average evening of their life.
This socializing may well have started much earlier that day. Often, these people are found passing their time in a horse event like a polo match or the Gold Cup, which is the semi-annual steeplechase at the Great Meadow in the Plains, VA. Talking about the Gold Cup, which is held on the first Saturday of May, this event is the high point of socializing for this class. For them, the most coveted invitation isn’t for a party or an event. Rather it is from the Old Dominion Royal Jammers, a tightly knit social fraternity whose president is Charlie Webb and his associate Peter Arundel.
The Royal Jammers have been known to hold glamorous parties in enormous tents. The entrance fees for these parties was quite nominal, and all the proceeds went to the Great Meadow Outdoor Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the lush green expanse owned by Peter’s father, communications czar Nick Arundel. The proceeds are such that in one particular year, they had raised enough money to buy a jump for the course.
However, this spring, the Royal Jammers held a daylong private tailgate instead of their tented parties. More than 100 members of the Young Society spent their afternoons parked next to the black limo on “Members” Hill, which is an exclusive area located just behind the Gold Cup finish line.
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