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Life is a cabaret at BritCham's charity gala

THEY kicked up their heels, tipped their top hats, swished their feather boas and grooved to the British Chamber of Commerce's glamorous 1930s cabaret charity gala. Sam Riley gets in the swing.

Feather boas, fishnet stockings and top hats and tails were all the rage when the British Chamber of Commerce held its annual gala ball on Saturday night.

The Pudong Shangri-La ballroom was filled with more than 520 members of the British business community and their guests, who took a step back in time to dress in glamorous 1930s and cabaret attire.

More than 300,000 yuan (US$43,885) was raised for two charity projects.

Most of the proceeds go towards the Jiangsu Philanthropic Foundation for the Disabled to help build a career center for the physically challenged. It is one of the few centers of its kind in China and aims to help physically challenged people lead self-sufficient lives.

Part of the funds raised will go towards the chamber's continued support of the Care for Youth Vocational Training School for AIDS Orphans. It was established in June 2007 in Zhenping County, Henan Province.

The school is run by Beijing Care Youth, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping people affected by AIDS. It provides vocational training for school-leavers across China who are affected by AIDS, and aims to provide them a sustainable livelihood.

BritCham Executive Director Ian Crawford says the evening was an opportunity for members of the British business community to have fun, network and support good causes.

"It was a super evening and we have had lots of good feedback from people saying they thoroughly enjoyed the event," Crawford says.

"We raised more than 300,000 yuan and in these difficult times people were once again very generous."

Money was raised through an auction of donated items. These included a Fender electric guitar that was autographed by the Rolling Stones, a British Open flag signed by 23 past winners and a Manchester United team shirt signed by all the members of the 2008/09 team.

One winner of the raffle also won a return "premium economy" ticket to London, which was donated by Virgin Airlines.

The vintage 1930s cabaret theme proved a hit with ball goers and a table from TNT Holdings won acclaim as the best-dressed table.

In keeping with the theme, accomplished local jazz singer Coco Zhou headlined a packed entertainment lineup that included the JZ Club jazz band and dancers from Jazz Du Funk.

Guests hit the dance floor at the Shangri-La ballroom and danced the night away.

"I left around 1am and there were still more than 150 people dancing or enjoying a midnight snack," says Crawford.

"That's great, that's what it's all about, to get people together to enjoy a good meal and a drink with friends, while also raising money for charity."

The ball is the main event on BritCham's social calendar. The chamber also holds its annual golf day in September and its St Andrew's Day event in November.


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