Around Town: Russian New Year

Russians celebrate the old-fashioned way in Washington plus a report on the glitzy festivities in Gstaad.
By Donna Shor


Princess Selene Obolensky. Image by Kyle Samperton.

A SECOND NEW YEAR: The action was non-stop at the 41st Annual Russian New Year’s Eve Ball at the Mayflower Hotel, with a romantic balalaika orchestra, leaping folk dancers doing lofty splits five feet in the air,  a waltz troupe, and fox trotting and waltzing to Sidney’s Orchestra.

The capital’s old guard Russian community follows the Gregorian Calendar, which means they celebrate New Year’s Eve exactly two weeks later than the rest of us. Many are descendants of the imperial elite who fled their homeland after the 1917 Bolshevik/Communist revolution and the guest list is filled with names that are right out of the pages of Russian history books.

Princess Alexis (Selene) Obolensky joined her son, Prince , as co-chairmen of this year’s ball, which was under the patronage of Prince and Princess . Prince and Princess headed the ball committee with the Scriabine Foundation as sponsor.

Either black- or white-tie with decorations optional was the dress code. Some women wore elaborate costumes with the “boyar” headdress, a kakoshnik with ropes of dangling pearls.I get it out once a year,” Princess said.

You don’t need to be Russian to have fun here. Tonight, everybody’s Russian” noted one enthusiastic guest. (Even non-Russians start to tear-up when the balalaikas start to strum “Moscow Nights.”)

WJLA TV-7 weatherman Bob Ryan and his wife Olga; designer and her husband George; Nina and Philip Pillsbury; ; and wife P.J., who wore a stunning wine-hued Lacroix; and (in town from her horse-country estate); and Andre Willieme.

Other revelers included Chateau and , Bonnie and ,  Gary and Rose O’Neal Akin, , , , , , , , Athena Adams, Clayton and , , George and and Vera and  .

REPLACING THE RABBIT’S FOOT: Christine Warnke welcomed the New Year during a stay in Gstaad’s swank Palace Hotel, where she caught up with her Greek  family. The Palace was chockablock with international jet setters, she reports, citing the presence of Middle-Eastern royals, Indian and French cinema stars and  Greek shipping magnates.

A highpoint: at midnight, everyone rushed outside and threw money up in the air-which tradition maintains will insure that lots of lucre rains down over you in the coming year.

As further financial insurance in this Germanic region where a pig is a symbol of good fortune (and little pigs molded of marzipan appear at New Year’s in the candy stores), the Palace went the extra mile to invoke even more wealth for its already well-heeled clientele. A plump little piglet – also very well scrubbed – was brought into the hotel to be petted and admired as he squealed greetings throughout the lavish lobby.

Russian New Year’s Eve Ball

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1 Response

  1. Nicole d'Amecourt says:

    How can I obtain a copy of this months Washington Life…thank you.

    Nicole d’Amecourt

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