The 40th anniversary of The Speed Art Museum’s Speed Ball will bring a fresh new look to one of Louisville’s most-anticipated annual spring galas. With a new venue, The Gillespie, hosting the soiree due to the temporary closure of the museum as it undergoes a three-year expansion and renovation, attendees will delight in an experience unlike any in the event’s past.
While The Gillespie – a premier location for weddings, parties, charitable and corporate events – will play host to The Speed Ball for the first time, the entertainment for the evening should seem familiar to those who attended last year’s celebration.
Returning for its second year, Indigo, a Ken Arlen Orchestra, will add an electrifying dose of energy to the atmosphere, keeping the crowd dancing well into the early morning. Based in Chicago, Indigo is an ensemble band led by saxophonist Dan Nicholson, known for his personable, dynamic spirit and ability to invoke a fantastic dance party while stylishly incorporating a client’s vision.
The Voice-Tribune caught up with Nicholson and Emily Jarvis, director of events at The Gillespie, to learn more about the unique venue and band, as well as the exciting changes coming to the 40th annual Speed Ball.
– Ashley Anderson, Staff Writer, The Voice-Tribune
How did Indigo, a Chicago-based band, connect with The Speed Art Museum for The Speed Ball?
DAN NICHOLSON: I think how Indigo ended up in Louisville was Ken Arlen Orchestra for the past several years has played the Kentucky Derby Museum Ball and that’s how the company was introduced to the city.
As band leader of Indigo, what are your responsibilities?
NICHOLSON: I play saxophone and I’m the emcee and band leader. I’m also a staff arranger for Arlen Music.
The core band Indigo is 11 pieces. Last year and this year we have added a component called the Sirens, and they’re a female string group.
What type of music will you play at The Speed Ball?
NICHOLSON: We’re always adding contemporary music, and it’s a very dynamic group. Every client we have kind of introduces a new perspective, and from that, we gain songs and repertoire. … To keep up with the contemporary music we have to constantly add.
Maroon 5 has a bunch of new dance songs, “Payphone,” (we’re) doing some of those. … (And) there shouldn’t be a dance party without Stevie Wonder, some Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra.
This will be your second time playing at The Speed Ball. What was your first experience like?
NICHOLSON: It was a really fun crowd, and they danced to just about everything.
I expect a great party (this year), just like last year. Lots of dancing and I’m looking forward to being back in the south, being back in basketball country.
How did The Gillespie receive the honor of becoming the first venue to host The Speed Ball outside of The Speed Art Museum?
EMILY JARVIS: We are honored to host The Speed Ball, especially during the renovation time where they’re hosting it off-site. (The Speed) actually contacted us as a general inquiry … and they said they wanted to use the Grand Ballroom, and we were tickled and honored.
The Gillespie’s art deco style architecture and romantic atmosphere will serve as this year’s inspiration for The Speed Ball. What role does the architecture play at The Gillespie?
JARVIS: The building does boast art deco. The building was first a bank, and so there’s remnants of coin depictions on the Mezzanine, so I think the architecture and painted cartouche ceilings were a big draw.
As far as the building’s concerned, I think the dual level, the Mezzanine and the Grand Ballroom, is going to work for their event nicely. They’re going to have dinner on both floors and open up the middle for dancing and cocktails.
What can attendees expect at this year’s Speed Ball?
JARVIS: I think that it’s the excitement itself. … That (The Speed) felt that our event space was second to theirs, that ours was the first selection, first choice, guests should be excited that it’s something different, something new. … Folks who haven’t seen The Gillespie or the event here, they’ll be able to experience something different. It sounds like The Speed is really going above and beyond with this event.
For more information on The Gillespie, visit www.thegillespie.com. For more on Indigo, visit www.arlenmusic.com.
The 2013 Speed Ball
The 40th annual Speed Ball will be held from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday, March 2, at The Gillespie, 421 W. Market St. Bittners President Douglas Riddle will serve as creative director for the event, which is chaired by Jonathan and Tracy Blue.
Benefactor tickets for the black tie-white tie event are $450 per person; Corporate Benefactor tickets are also available. The Benefactor evening will begin at 6 p.m. and includes cocktails, dinner, dancing and dessert. Friends of the Speed tickets are $150 per person. The Friends of the Speed evening will begin at 9 p.m. and features cocktails, dessert and dancing. For tickets, call 502.637.6363.
For more information on The Speed Ball or The Speed Art Museum and its expansion, visit www.speedmuseum.org.