Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Tuxedos, Cool Dresses — Must Be the Black and White Ball

Janelle Monae

If it's June and after dark, and you see women tottering around Civic Center in gowns with color palettes from silent films and their dates' tuxedo jackets on their shoulders, you've probably wandered upon the San Francisco Symphony's biannual Black and White Ball. Preceding by a decade the identically named “pinnacle of New York's social history” (Truman Capote's famously lavish party at the Plaza Hotel), San Francisco's Black and White Ball adds philanthropy to its hedonism — for more than 50 years the ball's proceeds have supported the symphony's robust music education programs, which benefit some 75,000 children each year.

Ten bands on five stages, outdoors as well as inside the War Memorial Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall, perform music from each of the five decades of the ball's existence.

The Black and White Ball happens Saturday night at multiple locations in San Francisco's Civic Center.

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