With nearly a year of fun behind us, we looked back on the young professional philanthropy scene to figure out the top venues in Dallas to host a memorable charitable event. We asked organizers within the city's most active YP groups — and those who throw the best events on their behalf — where they like to party for a cause. Plus we might know a thing or two about how to throw a rockin' YP party.
There is always a party happening at this upscale nightclub on Henderson Avenue, so if you want to host a sexy shindig here, you'd better get on the calendar. The 3,000-square-foot features state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting systems, so it's a good choice for a dance party — for 20 or 350. Vodi Cook, who heads up marketing and events for Wilkinson Center, agrees, saying that the first Silent Disco Party at Candleroom was a success because of ambiance, layout and location, as well as the high-tech lighting system and the staff's dedication to working with the Young Friends of the Wilkinson Center's theme.
Forty Five Ten
This McKinney Avenue institution is where the most well-heeled Dallasites shop, but it's also an excellent venue for a private event. We love how Brian Bolke's team works with clients to create an event that is equal parts fashion, art, fun and philanthropy. Whether it's a sip-and-see at the T Room or a party that expands to fill the entire 8,000-square-foot store, Forty Five Ten can accommodate. The folks behind the annual Art for Advocacy kick-off party said it best: "You can always expect grace; cutting-edge style; phenomenal attention to detail; and a well-executed, chic soiree."
Another event from this past year that caught our attention was the Young Texas Against Cancer Chili Cook-off at The Foundry. The quirky, casual venue in Oak Cliff is a great place to let loose and enjoy a beer or two in the name of charity. It also has an outdoor stage on the expansive patio, so live music is a must. Not all events are fancy; sometimes it's fun to hang out in your jeans and boots and "just bring the chili," says YTAC's Catharine Flagg.
The Uptown hotel's 2,000-square-foot pool deck is one of the hottest spots to raise funds for local philanthropic endeavors — and for good reason. During most of the year, guests can mix and mingle by the pool while enjoying the glorious weather; when it gets cooler, organizers can cover the pool, put up a tent and add some heaters to keep the venue cozy. Not in the mood for an outdoor event? Head inside to the Dragon's Den for a more intimate option. Blair Butler, president of the American Red Cross Young Professionals Auxiliary, agrees ,saying that the team at ZaZa "made planning an event a dream."
The Joule must be on a mission to be the go-to destination for all things happening in downtown Dallas, and, we admit, they are doing a bang-up job. The Terrace makes it possible to throw the perfect party in the sky, with the seamless transition from indoors to out. It's also a solid choice for people who want the professionalism of a hotel staff but not the same old banquet-room setting. Kirsten Williams, vice president of Lee Park Junior Conservancy, says that she thoroughly enjoyed working with The Joule staff, and Lee Park Juniors are still talking about the Day at the Races announcement event that was held there.
NYLO South Side
If you are looking for a venue with a view, then head to this hotel just south of downtown. It has a 4,500-square-foot rooftop terrace from which partygoers can look upon the city skyline, as well as an an expansive, gallery-esque ground level that ensures partygoers can maneuver easily from room to room. This venue is for groups confident enough to throw a party outside of the downtown/Uptown bubble. Vidya Ayyr, Young Professionals for Parkland founder and president, says that this young, fun venue sold her as soon as she saw the Dallas skyline from the rooftop Soda Bar. And that view made a great backdrop for their event photos.
The brand has a certain cachet, of course, but the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Uptown can do laid-back as well as it does luxury. Case in point: YTAC's annual Bubbly Q fundraiser, which takes over onsite restaurant Fearing's and the Ritz's swanky outdoor spaces. A dedication to excellent service and darn good food and drink is what brings back groups year after year to host some of the biggest YP events of the year. Says YTAC's Catharine Flagg, "[The Ritz] makes Bubbly Q as seamless as possible and fun!"
Rooftop Garden at The Venue at 400 North Ervay
The name just about sums it up: a rooftop with gardens located smack dab in the middle of downtown. This building boasts distinctive architectural details that allows organizers to take a less-is-more approach to staging. Our favorite thing about this venue is that it is not overused. In fact, we first really took note of it this year when the One Society held its Night in White party. We were smitten with the chic urban vibe that made us feel like we were partying in NYC.
Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar
Located in the Harwood District, this popular restaurant-bar has the convenience of Uptown but the serenity of a hidden retreat, and it has that indoor-outdoor thing working when all of the doors are open to the outside. Saint Ann is suited to an intimate networking happy hour or an end-of-year celebratory soiree. If you bring the philanthropists, they provide the booze and snacks. The Wilkinson Center's Vodi Cook likes the "welcoming outdoor oasis" complete with fire pits and says that the staff has, through planning events, become like family to her organization.
Although there a tons of Uptown venues that make fun landing places for young professionals, there are fewer spots downtown. The Woolworth stands out for two reasons. For starters, the food and drink are a cut above. From tacos to calamari fries to lobster fondue, the restaurant can create a menu that guests won't soon forget, and mixologists pour pride into every cocktail. Then there's the location: You can't beat the block. The entire place is available for rent, but we are partial to the library room for intimate gatherings of up to 50.