Lounge music from the '60s, fondue and retro cocktails contributed to the ambiance, but nothing could upstage the setting: a pedigreed modernist home perched on a rocky island in the James River. That's right, the Richard-Neutra-designed house, recently donated to the Science Museum, is now debuting as the grooviest party spot in town. Shockoe Bottom audio post-production house Rainmaker Studios was the first to throw a swingin' soiree on a chilly Friday in late November.
"I had a crush on it from the first moment I saw it," says Rainmaker owner Kristin O'Connor. "Then, the second thing I thought was, ‘I've got to have a party here.' "
About 100 lucky clients and colleagues — mostly creatives and producers from area ad agencies — mingled on the home's original built-in furniture, sipped champagne by the sunken fireplace, smoked under heat lamps on the deck, straining to see the darkened river, and eventually danced on the living-room linoleum. It could have been an episode of Mad Men, if not for the tattoos.
The home's significance wasn't lost on these modern-day Don Drapers. By all accounts, guests felt transported to the Hollywood Hills — of course, the gimlets couldn't have hurt, either.
"About half of the attendants were speechless when they got there because there weren't expecting what they saw," says O'Connor, "and the other half had looked up the house and were informed, but they were every bit as speechless." This was one holiday party people will be buzzing about for months — and no one even did anything to get themselves fired.