518 Formal Gala Stock Photos and High-res Pictures

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The Russian Ball turned up in 2018. While past years had moments mired in pomp, this year's fete was decidedly looser, more debaucherous, and just plain fun. In what is said to be the most beautiful ballroom in the city at a downtown social club, guests entered a cinematic fantasy of Russian classicism, one of elegance, opulence, and grace. The guest list included princes and princesses, counts and countesses, ambassadors and socialites, who celebrated contributions of Russian culture so successfully it was nearly possible to forget tensions between our two countries. The usual cast of Wes Anderson-esque characters flamboyantly waltzed, shot vodka, and compared family lineages at the annual Russian Ball in Washington, DC on January 13. The decadent evening offered an escape from current affairs through a bar so open that more than one indecent proposal was murmured with a wink. Guests listened rapt as the Washington Balalaika Society played the Imperial Russian anthem, "God Save the Tsar!" and other traditional songs before a seated dinner that featured not one but two bottles of vodka per table. Gala dinners are often dry, repressed affairs but not at the Russian Ball; conversational murmurs raised to an energetic din by dessert. The Richard Bray Orchestra had no trouble coaxing the decadent masses back to the ballroom post-dinner for dancing, ballgowns sweeping dramatically around the gilded ballroom. Guests caught their breath during a stunning performance by concert pianist Hyperion Knight before taking to the dance floor well past midnight. No drink was too strong, neckline too low, or jewelry too expensive at what is one of the most eclectic and over-the-top balls of the season. But it was special this year, and veterans of the event reveled in the change as generational and social lines blurred. Vodka flowed and the evening ripened into one for the memory books.
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