Outside the Kennedy Center in Washington last night a riot of blue lasers reminiscent of the northern lights beamed from the building’s walls.
Inside, at the opening of Nordic Cool 2013 festival, White House senior adviser for Internet policy David Edelman and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein tried to get in to touch with their inner Vikings.
Rubenstein recalled a fishing trip to Iceland with then-President George H.W. Bush.
“It took me three days to catch one fish,” Rubenstein said.
The festival, which runs through March 17, celebrates the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland through live performances, films, panels, along with art, fashion and design exhibitions at the Kennedy Center.
Patrick Ryan, the founder of Aon Plc, and his wife, Shirley Ryan, a Kennedy Center trustee, admired a modern wedding dress by Iceland’s Steinunn. There was also a red kayak and a lamp with a horse head.
Swedish meatballs -- presumably without horsemeat -- and herring fritters were served during the cocktail reception. Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom said he was feeling homesick and looking forward to returning in June.
The evening was modeled after the Nobel Prize gala dinners held in Oslo and Stockholm.
White tie and tails were requested. Rubenstein was one of the few who followed the dress code.
Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Sweden’s minister for culture and sports, said her red gown was a repeat performance from her attendance at the 2008 Nobel dinner.
The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Nobel’s official orchestra, played symphonies from a variety of Nordic composers, including Carl Nielsen.
Inside the heated tent for dinner, poppies sprouted from the tables thanks to Gunnar Kaj, the Nobel florist who recreated his centerpieces for last night’s event.
Norwegian chef Morten Sohlberg, who owns a cluster of New York restaurants, oversaw the menu. Norwegian crab, Icelandic lamb with wild Nordic mushrooms and spun maple sugar for dessert were served, while traditional and classical musicians performed.
The Nobel bona fides of the evening were enhanced by the presence of two laureates: Dale Mortensen and Roger Myerson.
A 2007 laureate for economics, Myerson said the evening was as close to the real thing as you can get.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on dining, Jeremy Gerard on theater.