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A Year Later: Looking Back on the 2011 NACE Gala, An Event for Event Professionals

A year ago today, the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey/Delaware Chapter of the National Association of Catering Executives was partying like rock stars at its annual black tie gala held right here at EventQuip. {click here to watch the video!}

NACE’s “Bring Back the Glamour” Gala was, and still is, the talk of the Greater Philadelphia event industry.  Dubbed the “event for event professionals,” by former NACE National President Daniel Briones, last year’s gala was designed to celebrate the tremendous talent found amongst the ranks of the local party industry. Not to mention, it was an event designed to give the ranks a little something to party about after managing to power through some tough economic times!

When you’re trying to impress a large group of event professionals who’ve worked in every venue for miles around, it’s best to start with finding the ideal knock’em dead party location. Unable to find the perfect spot for the gala, Event Chair Karen Pecora managed to get Ed Knight to agree to host the event at the EventQuip headquarters. A decision that would immediately inspire other event industry leaders to not only get involved, but to band together to create the party of the year!

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“What made last year’s gala so unique, is that it was created from the ground up. Like a tented wedding at someone’s home, by using tents built just for this party, no one can ever have their event there again. It was a one-of-a-kind event and felt like it,” says Craig Sumsky of Cutting Edge Entertainment. {go to Craig’s blog to read his post on the gala}.

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Gala Committee meetings included discussions on how the entirety of EventQuip would be used: from cocktails in the existing industrial warehouse with dramatic lighting to highlight the inventory left stocked on the racks, to structural tents built in the parking lot to house the dinner dance showcasing a sunken dance floor, cantilevered stage and working waterfall. As guests arrived at the warehouse they were greeted by costumed characters provided by Creative Juice.

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Stephen Starr Events collaborated with Evantine Design on food presentation, and how best to “embrace the warehouse” during the cocktail reception. {below, food stations were set up on crates and tent pole racks found in the EventQuip warehouse}

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Like the rest of our warehouse, the giant tent washing machine was dramatically uplit to make it a part of the event decor rather than trying to hide it behind draping.  After all, it’s one of those AMAZING pieces of equipment that most event professionals find fascinating!

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“The goal was to WOW these somewhat jaded, partygo-ing guests from the moment they got out of their cars,” says event designer, Brian Kappra of Evantine Design.  Guests moved from the cocktail reception to the dinner tent through loading dock doors over a clear floor that housed live-action models dressed as glamorous “decor.” Entering the dinner tent via dramatic stairs custom crafted by EventQuip in-house installers (see above), the guests were indeed blown away by the glamorous event design.

transparent floor NACE gala entrance live entertainment eventquip

To house the dinner, the EventQuip team installed a 25-by-25-meter Losberger tent structure that was built on top of a four-tier floor using the Wenger STRATA® flooring system. Four tiers because the dance floor was built as a sunken dance floor underneath a cantilevered mirror-covered stage that “leaned” out over a reflection pool. {Below, the cantilevered stage and reflection pool during construction.}

From ugly duckling to sensational swan, the dance floor and stage were “absolutely, the major ‘wow’ factor of the night,” according to EventQuip founder, Ed Knight.

On wide viewing tiers overlooking the sunken dance floor area, AFR Event Rentals provided stylish lounge areas brimming with modern luxe furniture.

NACE Gala Philadelphia Chapter EventQuip Warehouse Evantine Design Eventions Barton Paul Photograph

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Evantine Design layered one more glittering, shimmering detail over another in the dinner tent! Lavender, silver, chrome, lucite and purple design elements combined with Eventions Productions smokey, sexy lighting to create an intimate showstopping modern ballroom! Not everyone is a dancer, but having the AFR lounges and a large full-service bar around the dance floor gave friends a chance to hangout near the action. Of course, with Big Ric Rising on the stage all night, everyone’s toes got tapping at one point or another! Although, plenty of people played in the photo booth or got a caricature drawn, or simply handed their glass to the living Champagne Fountain.

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Brian Kappra of Evantine Design came up with a cool idea, literally. Building the tent floor at dock height provided the perfect opportunity to  install an Ice Lounge complete with a solid ice vodka bar and white faux-fur draped ice furniture.  The real kicker was that the Ice Lounge was housed by installing wall-to-wall white carpeting and fully-draping a 24-foot box truck that was backed up to doors installed off the edge of the dinner tent!

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Looking back, it’s hard not to be impressed by the talent, skill and ingenuity displayed at last year’s NACE Gala. As Ed Knight shared in a feature in InTents Magazine, “The bonus is that the guests were people who spend much of their year planning and producing events for other people. This was a chance for ‘party people’ to enjoy a party of their own.”  Collaborating on an event of this magnitude was inspiring for everyone at a time when motivation and passion sorely needed (and may still) a kick in the proverbial behind.  Please check out the list of NACE Gala sponsors and partners shared below.

nace philadelphia gala 2011 sponsors and event partners

Watch the buildup and highlights of this event on EventQuip’s YouTube Channel. Click here to check it out.  You can also read more about the event in Special Events Magazine.

{Photos shared in this post were provided by EventQuip, John Armich and Barton Paul.}



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