Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Gala Dinner

note: The event occured in late september. I am only just getting round to putting it to paper now. Apologies

I'm really not a social critter. I don't get out much. But there I was slurping lycee daiquiris with  the hoi polloi of Bali the other night. You see I was at a dinner party. Not just any old dinner party but a Gala dinner, and here in Indonesia a gala dinner means pulling out all the stops.

New Kuta Golf was celebrating their third anniversary with a Tournament followed by a Gala dinner. I'm not sure exactly why  3 years is cause for a Gala dinner. Why not 5 years? Or 10 years? And I don't know why they were calling it a Halloween event when Halloween was still weeks away. I don't really care. Because any excuse for a Gala Dinner is a good excuse. Further, if you ever get the chance to go to attend an Indonesian Gala dinner you should, even if you have play in a golf tournament to do so.

To start with there is the greeting line. Most restaurants in the Bali tourist areas have a habit of  placing well groomed individuals at the entrance's to attract the customers. The club did the same thing although it was really unnecessary - the customers were all paying club members - Gala dinner remember? The greeting line consisted off all the PR and admin staff decked out in matching black cocktail dresses with lavender sashes. They looked fantastic. And how do they ever manage to remember each and every guest by name?

The dinner itself was tasty although unremarkable. It has to be said that the temporary insanity that prevails on the roads here also occurs in the buffet queue. I nearly lost a hand to some half starved woman armed with a fork who was trying (unsuccessfully) to do a reach around for chicken wing. Defending my spot in the queue took some doing - the secret (and this also could be applied to the roads here) is to exploit any opening and put aside foolish notions of personal space. Eventually appetites were sated and people settled down, drinks in hand, to await the evening's entertainment.

Given the current national paranoia over morality one might expect some sort of traditional music or dance group to occupy us between door prize giveaways. But this is a gala dinner.What we got was a group of "sensual" dancers (can't say sexy any more - pity) clad in supertight spandex who performed to wild applause from the mixed audience of men, women and children. Whoa! Besides the dance troupe there was a band, some fire baton-twirlers and and projector screen sized infomercial from one of the sponsors - a low point. Things took on a more surreal tone when the tournament winner performed, on request, a very credible version of Frank Sinatra's My Way. How? Why?

The dinner ended abruptly with the simultaneous announcement of the final door prize - some sort of people carrier - and the end of the free flow from the beer sponsor. As everyone bolted for the doors I hung back to avoid being trampled and reflectively nursed the last of my Heineken. To line up these events would take some doing. There are sponsors to find, menus to be organised, and a timetable flexible enough to accomodate the vagaries of the weather (rainy season now). The cost for a dinner and a round of golf was very reasonable if comparing other entertainment options around here. And where else on earth can you have a singing golf champ?

Only in Bali.

Only at a Gala Dinner.