The Crowd: New Year's in Bay Club's ballroom

More than 250 guests in black tie and glittering evening gowns came together at The Balboa Bay Club & Resort for a midnight champagne toast to ring in 2011. Hotelier Henry Schielein and his wife, Carol, welcomed the crowd to what arguably is one of the last grand and formal New Year's Eve dinner dances on the Orange Coast.

Arriving between 8 and 9 p.m., guests sampled hors d'oeuvres, passed on gleaming silver trays by white-gloved dining room staff. Cocktail glasses clicked with toasts of good health and good fortune ahead in 2011. The upbeat mood translated into a farewell to recessionary blues. It was a night for a party, a glimmer of optimism for better days to come.

The massive wooden doors to the ballroom were opened just after 9 p.m., unveiling the richly decorated holiday red expanse. White votive candles flickered in crystal vases on round tables properly set with wine and champagne crystal for each of five dinner courses to be served. Chiavari chairs in gloss black finish complimented the spectacular floral arrangements of multiple varieties of red roses set on tables. They surrounded a massive dance floor placed mid-ballroom that would be filled with romantic revelers dancing to the sounds of the band known as "Rembrandt."

Chef Josef Lagader and his culinary team began dinner service with a first course of crawfish bisque drizzled with Tarragon and Caviar Chantilly. Smoked Scottish Salmon and more Caviar followed. The New Year's Eve entrée paired tenderloin of beef and baked lobster to the delight of the dinner crowd.

Spotted in the spot lit ballroom were former Costa Mesa Mayor Peter Buffa and his wife Sharyn, the glamorous Gail and Ron Soderling, Virginia Mangione, Mort Wallen, Joan Alison, Kurt Scherf, Minnie Scott, Mike Giddings, Kim and Rick Nicholson, Jean and Tim Weirhelstowski, and international jeweler Mardo and Seyda Ayvazyan. A kiss at midnight followed by a balloon drop of a thousand balloons ushered in 2011 on the Orange Coast in grand style.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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