Rothschild Ball, 1962

Two years prior in Rome during the Olympics, I went to probably the greatest ball ever, in the Palazzo Ruspoli, given by Dado Ruspoli, the best-looking Roman ever, and a genuine prince to boot. (Too many Italians pose as princes nowadays, so I have to make that clear.) While tripping the light fantastic, I was approached by Dado and asked if I would throw out the drummer of the band. (I was known for my boxing and wrestling, two very plebe sports.) Dado had caught the drummer kissing Princess Ruspoli during a break. I refused. Dado shrugged, and that was where it ended. I mention this because heavies did not exist back then, no black-dressed behemoths shouldering their way around glowering. It was all very civilized.

One week before that I had been in Naples and watched the then-Crown Prince of Greece win a gold yachting medal in the dragon class, and had attended the “€œRoyal Ball,”€ as it was dubbed by the press, because every crowned head of Europe except the Queen of England had been present. The Duchess of Serra di Cassano, in whose palace the party took place, and a lady I had only met formally once, saw me walking around the beach in Monte Carlo and asked me if by any chance I”€™d be in Italy during the Olympics. I mention this to show how informal and friendly formal life was back then. She knew that I knew what fork to use and that I had manners, and my youth did the rest.

Compare that invitation of a young man by a duchess to today. First of all, no one gives balls any more. Too much bad publicity because being rich is a sin and, after all, we are all equals. Secondly, the people who can afford to give such a ball today are the types that know the price of everything and the value of nothing. (Sorry, Oscar.) Why give a ball for other nouveau-riche vulgarians such as yourself and pay out of your pocket when you can charge them 25,000 greenbacks for a table and then give the proceeds to an AIDS charity and be praised for it by GLAAD? Or to unwed black transgender mothers? I had some good wine during lunch and forgot to tell Graydon he should call the film Twilight. I will let you know if and when it comes out. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

 

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