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The Hot List: Galas, balls and parties brighten Pittsburgh's spring social calendar

| Sunday, April 5, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

It's time to put all of that fashionable footwear to good use and kick old man winter straight to the curb. The social season is about to go full bloom, and we've weeded through an enviable list of party invites to bring you a Hot List of what's on the horizon.

The Dirty Ball #10

Basking in its ongoing encouragement that guests not just get down, but get down and dirty, Attack Theatre is carrying on the tradition of anything goes for the 10th inception of its Dirty Ball on April 11.

In the past, tender eyes were known to experience temporary blindness at the shenanigans that would only get better as the night went on. This year, revelers will be launched on a journey through time that has been promised to reveal more than one dirty little secret.

“We've been experimenting with time machines — some work, some don't. For some reason, we keep getting stuck in the '80s,” marketing manager Tom Hughes says.

VIPs will again have the opportunity to grace the Velvet Lounge, which is rumored to be presented as an all-out design by Eon's Richard Parsakian. Exclusive cocktails from Tender and Verde will ensure no one gets dehydrated. Although Hughes could neither “confirm nor deny” some of the hush-hush entertainment set to unfold, he did promise “it's going to be a pretty crazy mix. ... It's definitely going to be dirty.”


45th Anniversary Season Finale

There's no arguing the magic of an evening with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre spent under the lights of the historic Benedum stage.

“It's going to be fantastic,” the Ballet's marketing manager Meghan Swartz says of the April 16th event. “It's one of the largest stages in the country, and it's only fitting that we celebrate our history where our dancers perform.”

Part of that historic celebration will include raising a glass in honor of the ballet's founders, namely, Nicholas Petrov and Loti Falk Gaffney, whose more than four decades ago has translated into a world-renowned company of ballet dancers. Following a dress rehearsal of “La Bayadere,” guests will tuck into a dinner prepared by the white-gloved Duquesne Club. A full house is expected.

“It should be a really beautiful evening,” Swartz says.


That's Entertainment! With a Vegas Twist

Since this Pittsburgh Public Theater event ascended the throne as Fanfare's Best Party of the Year in 2014, tongues are wagging in anticipation of a repeat performance.

The May 2 party at the Wyndham Grand, Downtown, will celebrate the organization's 40th anniversary. Caution will be thrown to the wind for an atmosphere that harkens to the days of The Rat Pack and showgirls swinging from chandeliers. In other words, classic, glamorous, sizzling, Hollywood-esque Vegas.

“Part of what I like is the entrance to a party — it's like an opening number of a musical,” producing artistic director Ted Pappas says. “You want to establish what the stakes are, what it's always about.”

He's determined to see another year of seats being emptied in favor of hitting the dance floor.

“There's never an empty dance floor at our parties — it's always full,” Pappas says. “Guys are up dancing with their wives all night, which is always a rare and beautiful sight.”


Spring Hat Luncheon

For patrons of the annual Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon, the race to the roses often begins about 365 days in advance.

“We actually had someone who had already picked out what they were going to wear at the patron party, but also, what they were going to wear for next year's luncheon,” says Scott Roller, senior manager of marketing and communications.

Creativity knows no bounds for this crowd, whose millinery prowess has resulted in a glorious spectacle of mad hattery year after year.

In addition to all those fashion statements, the magic of this event can also be attributed to the fact that the party is rotated among each of the city's four major parks and Schenley Plaza.

Riverview Park on the North Side will host this year's anticipated 625 guests on May 2.

The location, Roller says, “is elevated up enough so you actually feel like you're floating on top of the treetops.”


Diamonds and Denim on Market Square

A huge contingent of the glitterati arrived en masse to the tented glory of Market Square last year for the debut of Diamonds and Denim. The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation benefit anticipates another sellout this year on June 20.

As if the lure of another “can't miss” weren't enough, this year's ticket comes with a promise of no long speeches, no live auction and no silent auction.

“Just one big party,” says Sam Badger, development coordinator.

As far as ambience is concerned, event designer Martin Potoczny of LUXE Creative says, “Imagine that the white beam of light shining from D&D 2014 hits a prism and breaks into a kaleidoscope of vivid color that will fill Market Square and the surrounding area.”

Entertainment-wise, DJ Zimmie will return again to spin the socialites into the summer breeze. But, if things get too hot, guests can cool off by snagging one of only 100 tickets for a $200 raffle good for $20K worth of ice from Louis Anthony Jewelers.


#NowSeeThis Party

Carnegie Museum of Art's bash May 9 is a nod to the visual culture cultivated by the intersection of music, photography and technology.

It's a mash-up — a concert and a show whipped into a frenzy and baked to perfection for an anticipated crowd of 1,000 of the young and the restless.

Tickets are less than $20 a pop. Dress codes are a quaint notion. It's loose, it's edgy, and it's exactly the kind of collaboration the museum and VIA had in mind. Live performances by Kelela (Los Angeles), Lower Dens (Baltimore), and Juliana Huxtable (NYC) will intertwine with curated, interactive installations that examine the juncture where physical and virtual melt together.

“CMOA is interested in where photography is going and where art fits into that picture,” says Jonathan Gaugler, media relations manager. “To put on a party like this is to experiment in a very public way as we celebrate those realms.”


Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media and can be reached at , 412-380-8515 or via Twitter @KateBenzTRIB.

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