SMRC: 23rd Annual Chocolate Lovers' Fling, 2/10

The 23nd annual Chocolate Lovers’ Fling, a fun-raiser for the San Miguel Resource Center and one of the best parties of the winter season in the Telluride region. The bash features chocolate treats by local chefs, a silent auction, music, dancing, and cash prizes for the Best Dressed, Best Couple, Best Individual. The Fling takes place at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village on Saturday, February 10, 2018, 7:30 p.m. The goal is to raise funds to help stamp out interpersonal violence in the Telluride region, an effort made possible by the unrestricted funds raised at the event. Tickets in advance, $55, ($60 at the door), available at Two Skirts in Telluride and online here. VIP tickets, $150, include private bar, lounge, and more.

First there was the Summer of Love in 1967, when as many as 100,000 (mostly) young people, tricked out in hippie threads, converged on San Francisco’s neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury.

There was Woodstock, the infamous music happening of 1969, which drew a crowd of over 400,000 and turned Bob Dylan electric.

Then there was Studio 54, also at the top of a short list of seminal, edgy cultural events of the 20th century – or at least of pop history.

For its 33 months in existence, the original Studio 54 rhymed with bacchanal.

According to RollingStone, “…The sex, drugs and disco on offer at Studio 54 served as the perfect release for a generation raised under the pressures of Watergate and the Vietnam War. Though the club was ultimately destroyed by vice and greed, its short reign defined the flashy exuberance of the late Seventies, before the scourge of AIDS ended the party forever…”

The brainchild of Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, Studio 54 opened its doors in the one-time opera house and CBS television studio in Midtown Manhattan on April 26, 1977, with the current occupant of the White House and his then wife Ivana in attendance – while a Quaalude-fueled orgy was happening outside on the street. The star-studded gathering also included Cher, Tennessee Williams, Andy Warhol and Grace Jones. But Warren Beatty and Robert Duvall did not make make it past the doorman.

Club regulars included Arnold Schwarzenegger, O.J. Simpson, Diana Ross, Liza Minelli, Brooke Shields, and Baryshnikov. Paloma Picasso would preen for newspaper cameras, while unexpected attendees like Coretta Scott King passed through the club’s burgundy lobby. Alec Baldwin briefly worked as a waiter.What happened at Studio 54, did not stay at Studio 54. Tales of what went on behind the velvet rope are the stuff of modern myth. Only they are largely true. The list of hedonistic mayhem and mischief includes Bianca Jagger riding around on a white horse led around by a naked dude covered in gold glitter. Buff and highly selective doormen who regularly blocked the tunnel travelers were targets of abuse – and gunshots. And there were dedicated spots in the basement and balcony for sex play.

The dance floor at Studio 54 was once transformed into a farm for Dolly Parton, complete with livestock and bales of hay. There were doves for Mick Jagger’s soirüe.

Guests arrived one New Year’s Eve to find the floor covered in three tons of silver glitter; one Halloween, a cast of dwarfs dined on Cornish hens inside a Hieronymus Bosch-inspired vignette.

So much for the health codes.

The disco debauchery of Studio 54’s legend lives on at the San Miguel Resource Center’s 23rd annual Chocolate Lover’s Fling.

“Telluride locals love a theme party, but after over 20 years of the Fling, finding a new and engaging theme is not easy,” explained party planner extraordinaire Sutton Schuler Errico.  “I came up with a few big ideas, but after polling friends and the Resource Center’s board, Studio 54 was the obvious choice. Not only was the club the heart of New York’s night life – and the world’s – in its day, Studio 54 was the epitome of a fun night out on the town. What’s more, it is theme for people to dress up to. And disco threads are strongly encouraged.”

The Chocolate Lovers’ Fling is the Resource Center’s nonprofit’s biggest public fundraiser. And the event features some of  the region’s best professional chefs from venues as diverse as The Peaks, Bon Vivant, Allred’s, 221 South Oak, Alpine Infusions, Scratch, Butcher & Baker, The View at Mountain Lodge, Big Billies, Telluride Sleighs & Wagons, Rustico and more, all competing to create the most decadent chocolate dessert fantasies.

The Dance Collective will be doing special performances, taking advantage of the disco lights to light up the dance floor.

There are also prizes for Amateur Chocolate and Best Dressed; a silent auction with  favorites such as festival passes, a 2019 Telluride ski pass, plus a four-night stay at the exclusive Roaring Fork Club outside of Aspen; a wine toss, and new this year, dancing to sounds of KAT V.

KAT V was raised in Latvia and from a young age, she was trained to follow the traditional path of a classical musician. But as genre-bending violinist and now DJ in the United States, KAT V has been entertaining audiences with dynamic sets that fuse disco favorites with indie and hot electric violin solos.

Studio 54 may have celebrated lust – ahem, for life – but The Chocolate Lover’s Fling is also the warm-up to Valentine’s Day, the High Holy for lovers. How are the two events linked? Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating healthy relationships. Eliminating abusive relationships and promoting healthy relationships are the twin goals of the Resource Center.

“The San Miguel Resource Center promotes happy and healthy relationships,” said Riley McIntyre, executive director.“We advocate for all people to be free of fear and abuse because we believe everyone deserves to be loved and feel safe. #MeToo stops at our door.”

It doesn’t matter where.

It doesn’t matter who.

Sexual assault and domestic violence ignore cultural boundaries, race, place, even gender. Fact is those twin horrors are equal opportunity offenders. And it turns out intimate partner violence is the most common form of abuse in women’s lives – much more than assault or rape by strangers or even acquaintances. So women, also men and children, are more at risk at home than on the streets.

Interpersonal violence is a global plague  – read many of Nick Kristof’s Op Eds in The New York Times. He is one among many outstanding journalists who consistently rails against such horrors all over the world – but abuse is not acceptable anywhere.

Certainly not in the Telluride region.

“We see domestic violence as a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. The behavior can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient, the kind of behavior the so-called ‘Silence Breakers’ are determined to stop, the women who spoke out against sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace and beyond,” added McIntyre.

“This (#MeToo) moment is borne of a very real and potent sense of unrest,” Time reported. “Yet it doesn’t have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet,” continuing:

“…this reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought…”

But it is not just women. Men are coming forward too.

Female or male, these “Silence Breakers” have emboldened others to come forward with their stories of uncomfortable comments, touching, molest or rape.

Though many have chosen silence because remembering is so painful, Telluride’s San Miguel Resource Center invites all community members – female, male, other – through its doors.

In fact, the goal of the San Miguel Resource Center is to become so effective in our neck of the woods, its services will no longer be needed.

Proceeds from the Fling, which, with all its moving parts, demands hundreds of man hours to cobble together, represent a big chunk of the Resource Center’s annual budget. Funds raised at the party, one of the biggest and bestest bashes of the winter season, are particularly important because they are unrestricted.

Unrestricted funds – as opposed to restricted funds through grants from government entities, which all come with strings – allow the nonprofit to meet the ever-changing needs involved in crisis response.

Because of funds from the Fling, The Resource Center is able to offer such programs as support groups for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Discretionary funds clearly help the nonprofit provide better ongoing healing and empowerment opportunities for its clients.

“We have been successful in creating long-term sustainability for our organization by cultivating relationships with a a varied array of foundations, granters, local governmental agencies, and donors. However, the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling is our signature event and a vital component of our financial sustainability. Money raised at the Fling helps us to continue to provide services at no cost to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault with no strings attached,” concluded McIntyre.

More about the San Miguel Resource Center:

The Resource Center was called Tomboy House when it was first formed in 1993 by a group of locals, including Bev McTigue, Dr. Marshall Whiting, Dr. Susannah Smith, and Marsha Ewell. By 1994, Tomboy House had established a 24-hour helpline to support victims through crisis intervention and referrals. That year, the nonprofit served 28 clients. Last year that number was nearly 10x higher.

These days, in addition to crisis intervention and a hotline for Telluride, Norwood, Nucla/Naturita, the Resource Center provides a wide range of programs/services in English and in Spanish, including cultural outreach, advocacy to help clients with court and medical services, safe housing, preventative community education, and awareness initiatives.

Ways you can help:

Attend the Fling Saturday, February 11, 2017.

Volunteer. Become a certified advocate or simply help with the many events that take place throughout the year such as the Fling. Learn about domestic violence and sexual assault. Education is the key to dispelling myths, ending the blaming of victims and preventing future violence.

Visit here learn more about how you can help and to buy tickets to the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling.

More about Fling chair, event planner and San Miguel Resource Center board member Sutton Schuler Errico:

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A fifth-generation Telluride local (and volunteer firefighter), two years ago, Sutton launched her namesake brand, “by Sutton,” a luxury event and lifestyle production consultancy that focus on authentic, heirloom-worthy moments in the Telluride region. With Telluride experiencing a wedding boom, a large part of her work revolves around helping clients tie the knot. Sutton’s community-minded projects, include the production of TMVOA’s Sunset Concert Series. This is Sutton’s second year chairing the Fling.

Many locals – and lots of visiting guests – know Sutton as one of the beautiful women who work at Kristin Holbrooks’s Two Skirts.

” From window shopping at the original Oak Street location as a tween, to eventually working throughout high school and college breaks, I am thankful for the friendship with the community-minded ladies that work at the store and grateful for owner Kristin Holbrook’s guidance and support. Kristin is also a long-time supporter of the Resource Center.”

Sutton’s history with the San Miguel Resource Center dates back to her childhood:

“The Resource Center has been in my life as long as I can remember. My earliest memories were the nights my mother would be on-call as an advocate and hearing the Resource Center-issued cell phone ring knowing she was at times the lifeline for someone in our community in desperate need. As a child living in the snow globe we call home, it was hard at times to imagine that these sorts of injustices were taking place in our backyard. It was many years later, while president of my sorority at Colorado State, I too became a sounding board and advocate for a sister who was sexually assaulted by a person she believed to be a friend. At that moment, my appreciation and respect for the work of the SMRC, and of my mother, was truly validated. I then realized that no matter where you live or who you are, we are all vulnerable and one day might need the help and support of organizations like the Resource Center. My involvement as a board member was sparked after returning to Telluride in 2013. Mentors and friends, such as Kristin Holbrook and Cynthia Sommers, both past board presidents and active champions for the cause, encouraged me to join. I took their advice and joined in 2015. And I continue to be inspired my the work of this wonderful organization.”

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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