I’ve always assumed that most people watch The Academy Awards the same way I have in recent years -- in pajamas and under a blanket. It wasn’t until recently that it dawned on me that there are grand parties created around watching the glamorous event on screen.
I was invited to one such party last weekend when a friend called and asked if I wanted to tag along to the Nickelodeon Theater’s
Oscar party in Columbia
. I said yes, excited to attend, but not quite knowing what I was in for.
The Nick is South Carolina’s only nonprofit art house cinema and has been in operation since 1979. Until 2012 the organization was located in a small space on North Main Street, but with more than 25,000 film-goers attending the theater each year, the staff and board saw the need for a larger space. In addition to the brand new screen, the new space includes an education center and room for special events.
I arrived at 1607 Main St. on Oscar night to find all kinds of fanfare at the front door of the nonprofit cinema. A photographer was taking pictures of guests who had donned formal wear or were paying sartorial homage to their favorite nominees. People mingled in the lobby, sipping wine and nibbling on popcorn and hors d’oeuvres, or were inside the 99-seat theater watching the celebrities make their way down the red carpet on the large, crisp screen.
The friend who invited me also happened to be co-hosting the event, so I had the special privilege of going backstage to talk to her (Anne Postic, otherwise known at The Shop Tart
and her partner for the night, the fabulous Patti O’Furniture. Patti is a larger-than-life character who can often be found making crowds giggle at many of Columbia’s nonprofit events. The character is played by Pat Patterson, a local real estate agent who has a penchant for helping local charities raise as much money as possible through his act. I first met Pat when we were in Leadership Columbia together. His passion for helping others is infectious and we became fast friends.
The vivacious character has been a part of fundraisers all over town for organizations such as the Columbia Museum of Art
gala and STSM’s Walk A Mile In Her Shoes
. Backstage I was able to get the whole scoop from Anne, her sister Elizabeth (a longtime Nick enthusiast), Patti, and The Nick’s executive director, Andy Smith. Elizabeth was busy filling in bubbles on a paper ballot, predicting who would win the various categories in the evening’s announcement. “It’s kind of like March Madness. The person who knows the least is most likely to win,” she chuckled.
Patti has co-hosted the Oscar party for five years. “This is the longest-running charity Oscar party in South Carolina, and the first one in The Nick’s new building,” she told me as she carefully applied the thickest mascara I’ve ever seen to her huge lashes. “People get all dolled up and come out ready to enjoy!”
Someone poured a glass of wine for me, but I don’t know who because I was so entranced by looking through Patti’s eight wardrobe changes. Each outfit paid homage to a different movie or nominee. There were grand tributes to Adele and the movie “Argo,” but my absolute favorite was the “Lincoln” tribute, which involved a meeting of a James Bond-esque catlike number topped off with a teeny, tiny top hat perched on Patti’s voluminous hair.
Patti was not alone in her wardrobe enthusiasm. I had the chance to speak with Sally Truss, who was visiting the theater for the first time and drove in from Camden for the event. Her outfit was that of a retro screen siren, and she lit up the room when she walked in. “I heard about this event while visiting Le Café Jazz last week,” she told me. “I had wanted to do something special for Oscar Night, and when I asked if they had anything going on, they told me that there was a great party happening over here!”
Many others took the opportunity to pay tribute to their favorite movies. “Anna Karenina” was a popular favorite, and one man was even dressed in a garbage bag to show his allegiance to “Silver Linings Playbook.”
At the end of the night winners were selected for Best Dressed Man, Best Dressed Woman, and for the Winning Oscar Ballot. Each winner received a $75 gift certificate to The Nickelodeon and a bottle of wine to take home.
Postic sits on the board of the organization and was excited to mingle and chat with the crowd. “It’s our first year having the party in the new space,” she told me. “We have a great crowd, and the best part is that we are learning about all of the things we can do with this space.”
The thing about The Nickelodeon’s atmosphere is that it is always fun and always sparks an opportunity to talk and learn. Upcoming films to be shown at the theater include “Amour,” “Jail No Bail” (in conjunction with the 1963 Birmingham Project), and “The Room”. For more information on the theater and show times, please visit nickelodeon.org