BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
When Social Register Association Chairman Christopher R. Wolf arrived at the Chicago Yacht Club recently for the city’s second member cocktail party, a venerable 97-year-old grand dame was overheard regaling two young women with what she likes best about Social Register gatherings: that they are so intergenerational. Wolf, who took over stewardship from the Forbes family in 2014 and hosted the first-ever Social Register cocktail party in Chicago last spring, noticed how the always dazzling Dottie Pattishall’s quick wit and laughter not only enchanted her young companions but perfectly captured the mood in the stunning lakefront room.
The consensus, judging from comments by representatives of some of Chicago’s most socially prominent families, was that this year’s cocktail party exceeded last year’s wildly popular event with over 175 members in attendance. The members-only gathering is quickly becoming the most exclusive cocktail party in Chicago.
“We recently held cocktail events in Charleston and New York, with others to follow in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco,” Wolf remarked, “but Chicago has remained our centerpiece gathering. Many young individuals and families want to be part of a dignified and friendly organization where they can relax and celebrate with old and new friends, with the convenience of knowing that everyone you see is ‘listed.’ ”
Brian D. White, in his role as advisory board member at the national level, led the charge organizing this year’s evening mixer with his enthusiastic commitment to socially sophisticated groups. White pointed out that it attracted participants from well beyond the Chicago area: “You know you’ve tapped into something so alluringly special for your membership when family, friends, and other Social Register members are traveling from around the country to attend one of our events, and afterwards everyone’s first question is ‘Where is the party going to be next year?’ ”
Rick Lillie, CYC board member, and his fellow SR members William Beggs and Elizabeth Leiter Khazzam greeted arriving guests while Stu Hirsh at the piano helped set the festive mood and added to the merrymaking in the midst of glorious spring arrangements by Green’s Inara Carroll against the backdrop of the spectacular water view. Tempting hors d’oeuvres such as mini beef Wellingtons, Maryland crab cakes, and lobster and mango skewers provided irresistible sustenance for guests as they engaged in lively conversation, also complementing the liquid refreshments as they circulated.
“These parties here in Chicago have been a great way to meet people— everyone is so friendly and so interesting,” one younger member declared. “The eclectic mix of people that the SR attracts always makes for a fun night and has encouraged friendships beyond the parties; I already have a lunch set up for next week!”
“What I find most exhilarating,” says White, “is the renewed feeling of pride of membership and excitement in the air, the room abuzz over the recent articles, engagement announcements, debutantes, and fabulous stories in our magazine, the Observer, which connects our members all over the world.”
“There is something captivating,” he continued, “about a room full of 150-200 sponsored and vetted members—the cream of Society, leaders in their chosen professions, some of the most attractive, well-connected, charming people—gathered together with dozens of introductions and new friendships being formed, all united by membership in our welcoming 132-year-old association.”
Over a dozen guests stayed for dinner at the CYC to engage in a roundtable discussion, sharing ideas for future Social Register gatherings and new benefits for members, as well as other projects, ensuring that the parties and other social events are just the beginning.
Afterwards, they joined many others, all energized by the SR party, and embarked on a night out on the town with friends, enjoying each other’s company amid Chicago’s vibrant array of spectacular restaurants and nightspots. As the usually reserved Wolf observed, “It’s fantastic to get together with everyone at these parties, since our lives can become quite busy and take us all in different directions. Who says being a bastion of civility, class, and grace can’t be great fun at the same time?”