- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2000

The Reptilian Cotillion started off as charity by accident.

"It was just a party, and then, before you know it, there was extra money, and we started giving it away to various charities, co-founder David Webb said Friday night as the first of nearly 500 guests started pouring into Reptilian Cotillion at the National Press Club.

After founding the event with David Foulk and brothers Joe and Ted Stettinius 13 years ago, Mr. Webb got married. It was his wife, Martha, who chose the SEED (Schools for Educational Evolution and Development) Foundation as the event's beneficiary. This year, the party collected as much as $100 from each of the guests to help the SEED School, an urban public boarding school that houses 300 D.C. youngsters, build a permanent campus in Marshall Heights in Southeast.

The fact that that the organizers got increasingly serious about benefiting the less fortunate hasn't had any effect on the event's unique flavor.

"It has its own reputation for being a fun party that usually has a very good band," Mr. Webb said, adding: "We put our emphasis on the band and not the food."

Over the years, the party's increasing and loyal following has been treated to such groups as Toots & the Maytals, NRBQ, SuperDiamond and even the Dave Matthews Band back in the early '90s.

The band is not the party's only draw, though. For many, including IGOR Communications executive Ian O'Neil, it's the first of the series of parties that starts the Washington holiday season. It's a uniquely festive event with the rooms traditionally festooned with blowup dinosaurs, spiders, lizards and reptiles of every ilk, most of which get snapped up and adopted as black-tie accessories by the women in the crowd.

"This party's great, all these silly snakes," said Reg Stettinius, who had a night free from 18-month-old baby Isabel to come dance with her husband, Joe.

The dance floor didn't go begging, being either graced or watched by the likes of Venture House Chief Executive Officer Mark Ein, Ashley and Clint Shaw, Yardly and Burton Gray, Campbell Soup heir Oak Strawbridge and wife Susan, John Bradbury, Clare Chapoton, Anne and Jon Wise and Ed Romanoff, who had lined up the band Milo Z for the cotillion and had come by to watch before heading to New Orleans, where he's producing a Smokey Robinson concert.

Winston Bao Lord, a political and public relations consultant and the son of former Ambassador to China Winston Lord and writer Betty Bao Lord, showed off some fancy swing steps with a bevy of beauties despite professing exhaustion from his work for the successful re-election campaign of Rep. Ernie Fletcher, Kentucky Republican.

But Mr. Lord had taken precautions before the election and planned to get away from it all, starting on Tuesday to West Palm Beach, of all places.

"When I booked it, I thought, 'How much farther can I get away from politics than Palm Beach?'" he said, rolling his eyes at the prospect of having to share turf with thousands of demonstrators. "At least," he added, "there won't be too many people on the beach."

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