Blues in the Midnight Hour Rock Crystal Court

For The Times

The young and the businesslike gathered at South Coast Plaza's Crystal Court on Thursday to bid a formal how-do to the new year.

Well-dressed (black ties and slinky gowns) and well-behaved (waiting peacefully in hourlong lines to get their pictures taken), more than 800 members and guests of the Center 500--a support group for the Orange County Performing Arts Center--filled the tony shopping mall for "A Classic Evening of Rhythm and Blues."

A classy evening of restraint and Moet et Chandon was more like it--until the James Harman Band kicked off a rollicking set at the midnight hour.

The bash was the brainchild of Anton Segerstrom, Henry's 30-year-old son and operations manager of Crystal Court. Between firm handshakes and gentle hugs, the popular Segerstrom fils, wearing an ultra-hip porcelain clip on his bolo tie, turned a smile to the press and said: "Please don't ask me any hard questions tonight. I worked until 7 (p.m.), went home for, oh, about an hour, and now I'm back here again. My mind is like Swiss cheese!"

Work all day. Party all night. What's a scion to do?

Party guests had plenty to do: wait in line for a photo op; wait in line to book an appointment with one of the psychics prophesying near See's Candies and the Foot Locker. Or, wait in line for food: mini-hamburgers from Ruby's; Italian cold cuts from Gianni Restaurant; poached salmon or pastry treats from Piret's Bistro, and tangy fare from Bangkok Four.

As the evening wore on, the audio attractions shifted from classical, provided by the Harmonia Baroque Players, to jazz, compliments of the Ross Wright Jazz Band, to Harman's blaze of rhythm and blues.

By the early hours of '88, more than a few of the "young professionals and business leaders in the community"--as Center 500 members describe themselves--had broken into an earthy sweat.

Net proceeds from the event, an estimated $10,000 raised from tickets sold for $75 and $100, will go to the Center's coffers. Karen Kennedy was co-chairwoman for the gala.

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