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Black & White Affaire delivers a musical night on the town

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Colorful lighting — including a mirror ball — and a perfect summer night set the mood as hundreds strolled Lincoln Way and showed off their best moves to the music at the Black & White Affaire Saturday in Downtown Auburn. For Auburn resident Betty Gadberry and her escort Bob Bianco, it was a welcome return to a party they’ve enjoyed in past years. “It was always a fun event,” said Gadberry, who has bartended at the ball previously. “This one is a little quieter. The music is great. We’ve already been dancing.” Among the first-timers were Weimar residents Dustin Solomon and his wife Heather. Just three months out of the Marine Corps, Solomon was decked out in his dress uniform and enjoying the evening. “I was in the artillery,” he said. “I was assigned to Ramadi, Iraq and Sagir, Afghanistan. … I’m here to have a great time.” “I like the music. I like the food — it’s really good,” Heather Solomon added. “Everything looks really great.” Three bands — Big Band Beat, Midnight Sun and Super Huey — provided the music. Numerous local eateries and caterers served up some favorite dishes. On the corner of Lincoln Way and High Street, the Mangia restaurant pizza stand was getting a lot of enthusiastic tasters. “We’re preparing (and serving) about 100 pizzas,” store manager Jesse Christian said. There were six varieties to choose from, including the new buffalo chicken. There was also gelato. “We’re cooking and bringing them down. So they are as fresh as fresh can be,” Christian said. “We have a dedicated delivery service for tonight.” Enjoying a little crowd watching, Amanda Enneking of NorCal Beverage said she was there to “check out the kind of events we sponsor.” “It’s almost like an outdoor fair, but nicer,” she said. “I love the oldies classics.” Sacramento resident Gary Ellis and his wife were trying out a variety of food as they took in the atmosphere. “We love it,” Ellis said. “It’s nice to see everyone dressed up.” In Central Square, Auburn resident Beverly Lewis said she has been to many Black & White Balls over the years. “I love the smaller footprint,” she said. “It’s more intimate. Believe me, I’ll be dancing before the night is over. I’ll be burning off some calories. I love the way they’ve done the lights. It really lends itself to a nice atmosphere — the way they lit the buildings with different designs. And I like the way the men are wearing ties. It reminded me there are gentlemen out there.” Suzi DeFosset, also of Auburn, agreed. “It’s my first year,” she said. “It’s very entertaining. I like the fact it is a smaller group of people.” By about 9:30 p.m. as the tempo of the music stepped up, more and more people were stepping out to dance, while outside the fence in Central Square, a few onlookers enjoyed the music, too. The Auburm Police Department had six officers patrolling the area Preparations for the event began early Saturday, with dozens of Auburn Chamber of Commerce volunteers working through the afternoon to get ready for the big party. By mid-afternoon, quite a few downtown businesses were already shuttered for the day, the street was closed to traffic from the clock tower to the State Theater, and set-up for the event was going on in earnest as a few shoppers braved the 90-plus degree temperatures. But not everyone was excited about the return of the lively dance party. At Winston-Smith Books, inside the fenced perimeter, co-owner Karen Bernstein said the closure was having a definite impact on her business. “We’re doing some work in here, but we’ll close early,” she said. “When they block off the street, it impacts us. Especially, when it’s hot, people don’t want to walk. A few people came in because they were looking for something special. … It bothers us tremendously. It’s hard enough downtown for the businesses. You can see out there it is dead. A lot of businesses have closed already.” Just outside the enclosed area, business was also slow at Golden Swann Jewelry & Collectibles on Lincoln Way. Several customers called and said they wanted to pick up something but didn’t want to deal with the street closure, employee Lynette Juberg said. Owner Margareta Swann added that, based on past experience from other Black & White Balls, she planned to stay in her store until 2 a.m. to make sure nothing was disturbed. She said she’d like to see the event held at the Gold Country Fairgrounds or another venue that doesn’t impact retailers. “I collected signatures and they were ignored by the city,” she said. On High Street, a couple of blocks away from the barrier fence, Frank Sullivan, owner of S&W Mining Supplies, described his business day as pretty normal. “Not so much (disruption) at this end,” he said. “But when I was down at the other end (of the street), I was impacted very much. If I were younger, I’d get out there with them.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.