It was well into the second week of the second month of 2023. The mild Kolkata winter seemed to have made an early departure, heralding a premature spring in the air. The koels’ calls pierced the air, blooming blossoms had started spreading their scent, and the climes were pleasant – all situations enough to hold a precursor to that annual day when romance prevails, and Venus is called upon to shower her prowess on lovebirds.
The stage was indeed set for DI to hold a Pre-Valentine’s Night three days’ prior, beckoning members and guests to trigger the mood for romance with music and dance amidst decor that evoked feelings of warmth and love. The Entertainment Committee had spared no pains to adorn the main bar and hall with red and white heart-shaped balloons, and streamers that twirled to the gusts from the AC ducts.
Red was the unsaid dress code of the night. Several ladies and a very few gents boasted attire in the colour that complements the love theme. Most of the menfolk, however, preferred turnouts in dapper black, white and a bit of red.
Blue Mist, a band 30 years old this year, knew very well what to play. Each song added momentum to the mood of the evening, from Stupid Cupid, Quando Quando Quando, You’re the One that I Want to Sinatra, Presley and Abba love songs. The father-daughter duo of Dean and Samantha Martin put to good use their trained vocal chords, with drummer-singer Darren Manuel chipping in solos. Mrinal Dhote on the guitar played some good riffs, while Dominic Cazo on bass and Carlyle Highland on keyboards added to the melody and the beat.
Music sure was the food of love, enticing couples onto the floor to move and swing to the tunes, be they rock or pop or waltz or tango. By the second half of the evening, the mood switch had been turned on, and requests for songs started pouring in. Seeing the enthusiasm they had built, the band played on.
Now, all was not dance and song. There was some amusement as well. In the shoes of able father Leslie was daughter Christabel D’Gama who, dressed in pretty pink, took on the role of being the Emcee for the evening. She devised and implemented a few floor-based “competitions” – the Lady in Red (won by Lynette, who displayed the colour top to bottom), the gentleman counterpart (bagged by Austin Smith, who capped it with a hat and shirt in red), the Spot Prize and the Most Enthusiastic Couple being some of them. But the game that got everyone laughing was when Christabel announced a prize for the first gent to bring in a lady’s red shoe: a scurry followed, first to locate one, then ask the lady if she would take it off, and then carry it to the Emcee on the dais. Guess who won (answer next week; clue: it was Mrs Rao’s shoe).
With all this activity and growing warmth, there was need for refreshment. The newly introduced Jimmy’s Cocktail mix, which can swirl the palate either as flavoured soft drink or as a heady alcohol-based mixture, was an elixir for the evening. Outside in the courtyard and the lawns, a gentle cool breeze seemed to back the mood of the evening. The food court counters were busy catering to the numerous orders being placed. The relaxed, dimly-lit atmosphere was inviting, providing a break from the action and decibel levels inside – opportune moments to exchange some romantic conversations!
The mood was well and truly set, enough for couples to click away at the well-devised and decorated Valentine’s Selfie Corner. Framed under an arch of red and white balloons and a backdrop of printed hearts, several husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, as well as others, took pictures that were to be posted on their respective social media platforms three days later. Like all events, the curtain-raiser night too came to an end. But not before Cupid had shot all the arrows in his quiver!