Strictly Ballroom -- It's fun to play dress up! Last Saturday found at least one Buzz Bin birdie whirling around like Julie Andrews (or her much clumsier younger sibling) at Allegro's Viennese Ball. The Davenport's Marie Antoinette and Grand Pennington Ballrooms felt like the set of some grand BBC literary adaptation (think Pride and Prejudice) and the live waltz music was superb. We learned several things: waltzing is a lot harder than it looks, and whoa, mama, is it fast.
Which doesn't mean we're not champing at the bit to go dancing again, and this weekend's Mardi Gras Ball at the Davenport is the perfect opportunity. Folks who went last year are still talking about it. The closest thing to a real Mardi Gras to be found here in Spokane, the Mardi Gras Ball is a wild spectacle of cavorting Krewes, traditional Mardi Gras colors (gold, green, purple), and live music in a variety of flavors (swing, blues, contemporary, etc.). A lavish New Orleans style buffet spread takes place at midnight, and ball attendees will have the chance to vie for prizes (including a weekend in New Orleans.)
The coolest thing about the Mardi Gras Ball is the fact that it's a benefit for not only a worthy cause, but a worthy cause of your choosing. Sponsored by the nonprofit Spokane Matters, the Mardi Gras Ball raised $18,000 last year, with proceeds going to the Second Harvest Food Bank, the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood, KPBX and the Spokane Humane Society (to name a few).
Checkmate! -- OK, so maybe herding the little horseys and kings around the ol' black and white is more your style. The Spokane Chess Club is holding their 12th annual Dave Collyer Memorial Tournament (named for a past chess club president) this weekend at CenterStage. A guaranteed prize fund of $1,350 is up for grabs through a succession of rounds; registration is still being taken at www.spokanechessclub.org. There's also a free talk Friday night at Auntie's Bookstore by IM (International Master) John Donaldson, followed by a "simul" (24 games being played simultaneously) by IM Eric Tangborn.
Valley Girl -- Some folks just can't get enough history of the Spokane Valley. For them, there is Florence Boutwell, whose previous three Spokane Valley titles chronicle the early days of the land now given over to couplets and malls. Boutwell's fourth book, The Naval Supply Depot at Velox, is due out next week from the Arthur H. Clark Company and details the wildly exciting times of a World War II supply depot that once stood where the Spokane Valley Industrial Park is now.