Two of my “best bashes in history” were casino galas that were outrageouly lavish and star studded, just the way events in a glitzy gambling temple should be.
First of all: The opening of the Mohegan Sun Hotel and spa in Connecticut in 2002
How’s this for a gala weekend?
Friday night in the big arena, we saw Cyndi Lauper trill her hits, followed by Cher entering on a papier mache elephant and giving us full-throttle lip darting and hair flicking for 90 mesmerizing minutes.
The next night, in the Uncas Ballroom, we were treated to performances by Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles at their most dazzlingly soulful, plus Rosie O’Donnell in her first standup comedy appearance in years.
Rosie was not only out, she was cuttingly amusing as she ditched her “Queen of Nice” tag to go for sardonic laughs again. It was historic.
Adding to the unrepentant hedonism, every table was centered with a Lazy Susan filled with obscene amounts of lobster tails and steak.
Even without food, my head would have been spinning, but the luxurious excess made the whole shebang-bang even more deliciously memorable.
The opening of the Royal Tower at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, 1998
This wanton celebration may have even surpassed the Mohegan Sun experience in terms of outrageous over-the-top-ness.
Just walking through the hotel lobby, you’d surreally see Natalie Cole crooning her hits, surrounded by buffets of many nations, and not even blink.
Outside, elaborate food stations were everywhere, topped only by the prevalence of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, and even Lee Majors, if you looked down (and I did; I never miss a trick).
There were different themed areas outside, each with its own separate food and entertainment, and at a peak moment, Grace Jones led a madcap costume parade through the grounds as everyone followed.
It became the world’s most flamboyant conga line of stars and shnorrers.
And then, high atop the Mayan Temple, Michael Jackson appeared (I’m serious; this event really had a budget), Stevie Wonder performed, and I almost dropped dead from excitement.
And did I mention the fireworks display?
Oy. Now do you know why I kvetch when there’s just crackers, cheese, and crashers?