Bankers Hit Morocco Via Central Park, Belly Dancers Included

(Bloomberg) -- Yesim Philip, the designer of L’Etoile Sport tennis dresses favored in Southampton and Palm Beach, filmed the shimmying belly dancers Thursday to show her husband, Dusty Philip, co-head of mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs, what he missed by not attending Central Park Conservancy’s Winter Party.

It was a work-related briefing, really: Everyone knew that the dancers, especially the one who balanced a tray of flickering candles on her head, would be the talk of the office the next morning. Philip’s co-head of M&A, Michael Carr, had a front-row seat, as did Craig Huff of Reservoir Capital and Perella Weinberg’s Robert Steel.

Bankers Hit Morocco Via Central Park, Belly Dancers Included

There was an oud player, a short rib tagine and mint tea under a tent located near Central Park’s Literary Walk and Bethesda Fountain. This year’s event, which raised $1.3 million, was dubbed “A Night in Morocco,” and planners pulled out all the stops -- almost.

“It needs more dust,” said Paul Bitler of Citigroup Global Markets.

Bankers Hit Morocco Via Central Park, Belly Dancers Included

“Where’s the bazaar?” added Huff, wearing a fez and admitting he hasn’t been to Morocco. “It’s my next trip.” But he has seen plenty of Central Park and was happy to support it as a co-chair of the event with his wife, Tracey. “We walk our dog and watch the kids’ soccer games,” he said.

‘Situational Dressing’

Gillian Miniter, a trustee of the conservancy who’s worked on the party for several years, said the theme was chosen during the summer, and was not a nod to the long-ago 70th birthday party of Malcolm Forbes Sr. in Tangiers. So guests were given trolleys, not a private jet, to get to the party, where they threw themselves into what Muffie Potter Aston described as the chance to “leave the reality of New York behind.”

Bankers Hit Morocco Via Central Park, Belly Dancers Included

“I love situational dressing,” said Christina Sethi, wearing a Moroccan kaftan she’d ordered on Etsy for the occasion. The night before she’d worn a sweater and boots to a friend’s holiday party where shots were drunk from an ice luge and a ski.

Bankers Hit Morocco Via Central Park, Belly Dancers Included

Joshua Nash of Ulysses Management was glad to finally have an occasion to wear the jacket he’d bought in Marrakesh on vacation with his family. Carr looked especially adorable in his fez. Sylvester Miniter of Durham Capital stuck to a blue blazer and khakis. Besides a theme, there are three essential elements to a fun gala night: “Good wine, short speeches and good music for dancing,” he said.

And then he was off to dance to Madonna with Betsy Smith, the conservancy’s chief executive officer who’s in charge of maintaining and restoring the 843-acre park; her husband Richard Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

Bankers Hit Morocco Via Central Park, Belly Dancers Included

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