Anyone for whom Valentine’s Day is more humbug than lovebug will be delighted to discover that, come February 14, there is an alternative to either staying home or gritting your teeth in order to grace one of the city’s bars and restaurants with their tables resolutely set for two.
Show Them Your Love is an annual event organised by a group of Dubai-based friends, led by Suman Manning. It is an anti-Valentine’s, Valentine’s Day ball – otherwise known as The Red Tie & Tiara Ball (‘a blatant take on Elton’s ball,’ Manning says with a friendly guffaw) – that allows guests to put their money where their heart is: all the proceeds raised will go to STYL’s chosen charities, the Dhaka Project and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.
Manning came up with the fundraising concept after she and a friend signed up for a Gulf 4 Good trek in Mongolia a few years ago. The pair organised a gala dinner to get the cash they needed to fund the trip and had so much fun they decided, along with another couple of friends, to continue their fundraising on an annual basis. Valentine’s Day quickly proved to be their date of choice because they wanted to ‘focus on a time of year that was quite commercial and,’ Manning continues with a laugh, ‘we all just hate Valentine’s Day with a passion.’ It’s a day, she says, that’s ‘very hyped; there’s a lot of pressure on couples, on singles – it doesn’t do anything for anyone except stress you out and make you spend a lot of money.’ Far better, they all agreed, that people should have an alternative way to spend both the evening and their cash. And so the idea for Show Them Your Love was born.
The evening is open to all-comers. ‘About 80 per cent of the ball is singles,’ Manning conceeds, ‘but it’s for couples as well.’ The point, she reiterates, is that it’s for anyone who would rather spread the love (through a good cause) than worry about how to prove their love on what is increasingly becoming one of the most cynically marketed days of the year. ‘There is,’ says Manning, ‘a lot of pressure to be in the right restaurant on Valentine’s Day.’ The Red Tie & Tiara Ball is a fun, friendly alternative to all that.
For the cost of a ticket, guests get dinner, drinks, music and dancing on the lawns of the Montgomery Golf Club, alongside fundraising raffles (prizes for which include wellness hampers, dinners for two, spa treatments and the like) and an auction on the night for the star lots, which this year include a luxury four-hour fishing charter and (for all you pop-rock fans) a framed signed photograph of Maroon 5, complete with a set of the band’s drumsticks.
All prizes are donated to the group and have proved to be a great way to raise cash. Previously, STYL was given a double pass to the Rugby Sevens with full access to hospitality, which raised them Dhs7,000 at auction. Dubaians, says Manning, are very generous when it comes to fundraising. ‘A lot of people are guilty about how much they earn and what they spend it on,’ she explains. ‘So when you make it tangible, when they can understand where the money’s going, a lot of people want to give. It’s all about making it very easy for somebody to get involved.’
The Red Tie & Tiara Ball, February 14, Montgomery Golf Club. Tickets Dhs395. Phone 050 658 1338