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In Sacramento, How to Party Like Mother Theresa Would Have Wanted

Lisa MarkusonBy Lisa Markuson on Dec 04, 2012 | Add a Comment Add a Comment (34)

In Sacramento, How to Party Like Mother Theresa Would Have Wanted

The Elks Tower turned out to be a pretty swanky venue- the first of many surprises during the evening.

Masked dancers Lady Mordecai and Ilah Rose Cookston

Masked dancers Lady Mordecai and Ilah Rose Cookston

Aleksander Bohnak was blowing drunk peoples' minds

Aleksander Bohnak was blowing drunk peoples' minds

Sacramento's next Big Thing (Cake was first, just sayin)

Sacramento's next Big Thing (Cake was first, just sayin)

My wing women. I remembered to set down my drink, but apparently not put my arm back in the socket

My wing women. I remembered to set down my drink, but apparently not put my arm back in the socket

From here, even Sacramento looks kindof cool

From here, even Sacramento looks kindof cool

So, I pretty much never need another Reason To Party, but a young San Francisco-based non-profit fundraising club has convinced me that I have a new one, which will make the baby philanthropist living inside each and every one of you coo with delight. 

Loads of people are talking about how to get us youngins ("Millennials" they call us) to spend our teeny tiny amounts of money, most of which is still a weekly allowance from our parents. They have found out through careful market research and other uncool, non social media-related methods that we really like to feel like do-gooders, saints, martyrs, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, environmentalists, pussy rioters, etc, but we would rather not do much, or at least not work much. Thus, in a closed experminent in the particle smasher where they found the God Particle, it was also discovered that the only way to get us to spend money and show up at parties (even that seems like a chore at times, am I right?) is to let us think that parties are actual work, and work for a good and benevolent cause.

This is genius.

So, here is what you do. First, you take a totally worthy, amazing, underfunded project. Let's take Sacramento's Verge Center for the Arts, for example. This is a developing collaborative arts group, with shared studios for over 30 emerging artists, as well as exhibition and gallery space, and a classroom for community arts education projects. Of course, nothing this amazing ever has enough money or human power. So, the SF hipster philanthropists at Reason To Party swoop in with their magical party fairy dust, to take care of all of the work to throw them a benefit event, and shower them with all the cash afterward. If you are going to a party, and a starving artist or inner city youth or impoverished basket weaver is not benefitting in any way, shame on you.

Last night, I got to see this magic formula in action, in the California valley town of my youth, Sacramento. I don't wan't to trash talk Sacramento per se, but yes I do, so allow me to just set the stage by clearly explaining that Sacramento does not have a reputation for being a hotbed of noteworthy cultural expression or innovation. On the contrary, the population often seems to be a disconcerting juxtaposition between an episode of COPS and a Kenny Chesney marathon on CMT. It suffices to say that I did not enter the Elks Tower with the highest expectations for the evening.

If there is one thing that can earn my respect and attention almost instantaneously, it is a flock of extremely fit, sassy, sexually ambiguous dancers fawning on me the immediately when I walk into your party. Within seconds, this feat had already been achieved, so all of my previous skepiticism was out the proverbial window. Wooed by scantily clad acrobats, I was defenseless against the other charms of the evening, which included but were not limited to:

  • Toasting with champagne as soon as I had a foot in the door.


  • Befriending the first two complete strangers I met in the elevator, and becoming an unstoppable trifecta of party domination throughout various floors, rooms, and balconies all evening.


  • Being led into a forest labyrinth by masked bird-women. Later meeting the native American artist responsible for the piece, who was so serious that she refused to translate the native word for the tree represented.


  • Drinking a cocktail made with Amaretto that wasn't absolutely vile. This is a feat unto itself.


  • Participating in and debating with Aleksandr Bohnak his colorful and complex interactive video installation. Later being told by Aleksandr that speaking with me felt like defending his graduate thesis, in a good way. If you like bright colors cinematic experimentation, and all manner of reflection and projection, you just found your new best friend.


  • Dancing to music by actually good (???) Sacramento band, Wrings. Gentlemen, if you are reading this, I will totally help you set up a show in DC.


  • Drinking another cocktail, of questionable ingredients. Likely also amaretto.


  • Being warmly greeted by the Executive Director of Verge, Liv Moe (real name: #winning) who as far as I am concerned now holds the title of best hairstyle in the entire Sacramento Valley Region.


  • Did I have another cocktail? Magic 8 Ball says: "Outlook is good."

So basically, these bullets prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that these Reason To Party (RTP) people are pulling of amazing parties and bringing out the absolute best in the people that attend them. Furthermore, they are doing it on a completely volunteer basis, which is worthy of an exclamation point, but I really try to avoid those so just imagine it here.

I got to talk with Ari Kalfayan (founder of RTP, ethical elk hunter, and man behind many other innovative projects, such as the forthcoming booking engine startup Travel Labs) afterward at a bike-up cafe in San Francisco. He explained that after four years and over 20 parties in SF and Sacramento, the group is ready to expand into new cities across the world, and he envisions DC as one of those key cities. The organizations he supports are diverse in scope- Verge, Visual Aid, Maitri, Global Glimpse, Equality California, GLAAD, and Save the Waves, among many more. His team of volunteers has perfected the party activation process so that streamlined, flawless events run like clockwork and delight participants and guests. And the parties themselves are unique: in know way a sterile cocktail hour check-writing ceremony. On the contrary, he sees his parties as a place where a new generation of philanthropic hedonists can "leave their ego at the door" while enjoying unique entertainment, interacting with art, and getting pretty drunk together. Picture a Studio 54 for the fabulous overgrown kids of the nonprofit generation. And when the party is over, he wants to be able to cut a 5K check for Verge the next morning.

Maybe after a stiff bloody mary anyway.

Interested in possibly getting on board with an amazing crew of volunteer party animals? Contact Ari at:

Want to learn more about the lovely people of Verge Center for the Arts?

Contact Liv at:

All gorgeous photos are compliments of Ryan Greenleaf Photography.


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