As a kid, I did it a lot. See, my mom has worn the same size clothing for like 60 years, and so when she was 45 and I was 10, she had an impressive wardrobe spanning more than two decades–and two good ones at that… the sixties and seventies. I remember her long dresses and outrageous shoes, and I especially remember putting on every piece of costume jewelry contained in the top drawer of her dresser. Then I’d put Dolly in the stroller and push her around the house–in style.
As luck would have it, I am still the same size as my mom. And as luck would even more have it, she gave me some of those clothes years ago. The rest is gone… to rummage sales, to church clothing drives, and to avaricious neighbors who borrowed and perhaps forgot to return.
While I had my mom’s old 1974 maxi dress with the empire waist, Michael had a hard time scraping together an outfit. Even from his dad’s closet, which surprised me (no offense, Frank). So on Saturday, October 20, we set out on a mission: to find him some funky threads suitable for the Collins Center Disco Gala… which would start in less than four hours.
It didn’t take long. Butterfly collar–check. Garish blazer–check. Pimpish sunglasses–check. Extra-tight pants–check check! And as he put those shiny sunglasses on his face, I could almost hear his pants ripping.
Harrisonburg’s Beyond Restaurant and Lounge was transformed for one evening into Studio 54/The Soul Train when they hosted the 13th Annual Collins Center Disco Gala. People put on their most groovy garments (or some just dressed up and made the rest of us look silly!) for an evening of gettin’ down… but also to raise money for a beloved Harrisonburg organization.
The Collins Center used to be CASA (Citizens Against Sexual Assault). Though they’ve been in operation for more than twenty years, they changed their name in 2007 to honor Shirley Collins, a Harrisonburg resident who died from injuries sustained during a sexual assault back in 1987.
The Collins Center has increased its services and its presence in our community over the years. They provide victims of sexual violence medical, psychological, and legal assistance. They operate several programs dedicated to the prevention of violent crime, and they also help provide mental health services to residents in need. Lastly, their Child Advocacy Center offers treatment to children affected by abuse. The Annual Gala (now in its thirteenth year!) raises money for all these programs and more.
So Brandy donned her funky frock and met us at Beyond at about 6:30 that evening. While the cause is serious in nature, the atmosphere was anything but. Beyond was closed to the public that night but filled with revelers ready to sing and dance and eat in support of the Center. The bar downstairs stayed busy all evening, while servers strolled through with delicious little things on trays. Like chicken curry puffs. And little bitty crab cakes. And cucumbers with stuff.
Upstairs there was more food–a casual buffet of sushi, shrimp, cute little to-go boxes of yummy noodliciousness, and, my favorite–MEATBALLS. And I discovered something new–bacon-wrapped asparagus. Therefore, I learned something new–wrapping foods in bacon is a great way to get your kids to eat them. And, I love anything wrapped in bacon.
As more people arrived, dressed like they just stepped out of an episode of Baretta, Brandy and I started giving them nicknames–like “Sparkly Man,” “Pink and Black Superhero Girl,” and “Denim Leisure Suit Guy.” I wanted to ask him how Tennille was doing. I poke fun, yes, but I haven’t forgotten how I looked that night, trust me.
Upstairs was a silent auction comprised of seriously impressive donations from the event’s seventy-two (!) sponsors. Up for grabs were several paintings, Massanutten lift tickets, a ukelele, two toy baskets, a skateboard and passes to Westover Skate Park, several spa gift certificates, professional photo sessions, cosmetics, and much, much more. Someone had placed the wine baskets, chocolate assortment, and massage gift cards on the same table. I stood there for a little while.
The three of us went in on a $20 raffle ticket for a chance to win a thousand bucks. And there were only a hundred tickets sold, so we had a good chance! We did not win. Eh. Onto the live auction! This part was really exciting. To be honest, I’ve never actually attended an auction before. I’ve seen TV shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, and I can see how easily one can be swept up in the excitement of bidding and beating that other guy over there who keeps trying to outbid me! The items up for bid were worth fighting over. Like the sunflower sculpture by Keith Morris. And the weekend at Snowshoe that fetched $400. Or the four Disney passes that went for $350, a pet portrait session for $275, or Rhoda Miller’s exquisite glass mosaic which brought in $475. People shouted and cheered and held up their numbers… auctioneer Justin Michael would get sooo close to saying “Sold!” and then another hand would go up. It was really quite something to see. Folks went home with some beautiful items and the satisfaction of helping a needed and cherished part of the Burg.
And what else can we say? After that, the music got loud, the dancing got wild, and the pen and camera were put away. Thanks for the memories!
Beyond Restaurant and Lounge is located downtown on Water Street by the garage. The Collins Center is downtown on Main, next to U Made It pottery and Clementine. Should you need them, you can reach them at 540-432-6430.
Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.