Society: The Ball Game

Once the charity ball was a stately affair where the rich paid a large admission' fee for the privilege of dancing sedately with each other for the sake of the poor or the worthy. In many U.S. cities—San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas—it still is. But in Manhattan, charity balls have proliferated into a bustling industry where worthy charities engage in cutthroat competition, good intentions clash with social ambitions, and publicity agents prowl.

This year's calendar is clogged with more than 100 charity balls—triple the number five years ago—that will gross about...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!