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A Fiesta for the Beautiful People

May 21, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

People en Espanol''s 25 Most Beautiful party Ace Gallery Wednesday, 5.15.02, 7 PM to 11 PM
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The food was South-of-the-border, the stars were smiling, and the packed space was steamy. People en Espanol's party celebrating its “25 Most Beautiful” issue crammed more than 700 people into multiple rooms inside Ace Gallery. And when the sexy stars of the issue were introduced in the event's main room, guests packed themselves inside tighter than tobacco leaves rolled in a Cuban cigar.

Mojitos were an obvious choice for the party's drink, and bartenders from Yipeee served them up with flair, using Rums of Puerto Rico--one of the event's sponsors--and cutting swizzle sticks made from raw sugar cane to adorn each glass. Douglas Rodriguez cooked up the food that has made his restaurants Chicama and Pipa New York standouts. Two brightly painted carts filled with ice served as ceviche stands, while another offered individual cups of gazpacho with avocado foam. Caterwaiters dressed in khakis and traditional white guayabera shirts (donated by Perry Ellis) passed plates of bacon-wrapped “piggy back” dates, chicken and octopus skewers, mussels with garlic and quinoa and smoked marlin tacos.

While the crowded scene was hard to navigate (at one point, the caterwaiters were forced to walk outside and around the gallery to get back to the kitchen), it was worth the trouble. Live entertainment from Paulina (billed as the new Shakira), Miami's Sound Machine (not to be confused with the Miami Sound Machine) and Tito Nieves and his 12-piece band had the crowd dancing all night.

El-J Production's lighting scheme included klieg lights covered with colored gels that created a multicolored, rectangular pattern on the walls that was reminiscent of the art that would normally hang in the gallery space. Huge vases of flowers by Johna Mancini were sparsely spaced throughout the gallery's rooms and surrounded by white votive candles.

--Erika Rasmusson

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