“Have you ever dreamed of being Queen for a Day?” read the online invitation to the University of Pennsylvania Annual Queen’s Tea presented by the African-American Resource Center and Women of Color at Penn. This year, the event was held on June 21 in Houston Hall.
More than 150 women RSVP’d yes with plus one, two or more guests to the invitation to don summer dresses, hats and gloves and enjoy tea and treats to celebrate their “Queenness.”
The tea transformed Bodek Lounge into a stately room of elegance.
Circular tables draped in cloths, adorned with floral centerpieces, were set with vintage china.
Carafes of assorted hot teas sat on each table.
Near the luncheon buffet table at the rear of the room, old crockery teapots brewing on hot plates sent the smell of aromatic tea blends wafting.
When they entered the room, some guests paused to take it all in or snap a picture of other partygoers.
Their millinery included wide brimmed colorful straw hats, large silk hats with silk roses atop them, small mesh fabric fascinators with billowy feathers.
Organizers promised a meal fit for a queen with some of the best-catered food “this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.”
Servers greeted guests asking, “Meatball? One or two? Quiche?” and on and on as they dished out spanakopita, crudités, miniature macaroni and cheese pies, quiches and tea sandwiches at the buffet tables. Crème puffs and chocolate dipped strawberries were on the menu for dessert.
Guests heard the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement’s spoken-word artistry, musical performances by master violinist Melanie Hill, a Penn Ph.D. student from Virginia Beach, Va., and a reading by Aginah Shaw, author of The Ink From My Mother's Pen, who urged women in attendance to “treat yourself like a queen every day.“
“This is my favorite event of the year,” AARC Director Valerie Allen says. “This annual event provides an opportunity for women to celebrate our beauty, creativity and unique gifts while being serenaded with poetry and song, feasting on tea and delectable delights and communing in an environment of support and appreciation.”
Everyone who came received a keepsake gift, a small glass jar with a sachet of loose tea for brewing and sipping later.
The Annual Queens Tea is a Penn tradition that dates to 2006.