As time goes by, those who did not attend the Dolphin Ball will regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of their lives. These words recall the Bogart/Bergman wartime classic about honor, commitment and renewed idealism. At “A Night in Casablanca,” the Malibu Cystic Fibrosis Guild’s second annual gala to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, there was plenty of the film’s spirit to go around.
Amid luxuriant palms at the Hazard Estate in Serra Retreat, 360 guests dined, danced and bid beneath the stars Saturday to raise upwards of $85,000 for CFF. That’s about 50 supporters and $15,000 more than last year.
The movie theme made for one helluva party.
Mere steps from the sign-in table was a martini bar with enough olives and onions to keep Bogie stocked for two world wars. Guests entered a Moroccan marketplace tent and were greeted by Malibu middle-schoolers Alex Anfanger, Sally Mills and Dylan Ross in full costume.
On the lawn, another hosted bar and 12 tables of silent auction delights beckoned guests to Rick’s Cafe Americain. The nightclub was aglow with candles floating in the azure pool and Casablanca lamps atop the dining tables. Throughout, Rick and Ilsa flickered in glorious black and white on a cinema-sized screen. The stage was more than ample, the dance floor substantial and the little touches such as souvenir fans made the evening memorable.
“General Hospital” star Jackie Zeman Gorden and “Superman” Dean Cain set a warm tone as emcees; this was Malibu’s party. They welcomed honorary chair Linda Hamilton, who praised the community’s ability to enhance one another’s lives. She quoted from Ralph Fiennes: “The people I consider successful are so because of how they handle their responsibilities to others, how they approach the future. . . . I call people ‘successful’ not because they have money or their business is doing well but because, as human beings, they have a fully developed sense of being alive and engaged in a lifetime task of collaboration with other human beings . . . .”
Meghan MacGregor brought little sister Kayleigh onstage. Of the 20-month-old toddler who was born with CF, Hamilton said, “She’s our girl. Give generously and give from your heart tonight!” Dr. Stacey Smith spoke of recent strides in medical research and about new developments in treatment for the disease. As Cain knelt beside him, Webster student Jordan McCarthy talked about the challenges he faces each day in coping with “Mr. CF.”
After guests dined on salmon and peppercorn fillet of beef, film and Broadway star Lou Diamond Phillips revved up the crowd for a live auction. Even those who’d retired to the cognac tent for an intimate performance by one beauty of a bellydancer came out to hear the rapid-fire patter of the auctioneer.
Partygoers danced past midnight to Roger Cain’s band, Catch 22, who, as predicted, heated up the Casbah. They danced to Rick Springfield and Prescott Niles doing the finest “Down to the Crossroads” we’ve ever heard.
All the entertainers, committee chairs and volunteers who made the event possible (most of whom were listed in last week’s newspaper) have no regrets. They were there for the best cause and Malibu’s best party ever.