Are Escapist Events Just Conduits to a Better Reality?

Endless Night 2017 (Scott Feinblatt)

As entertaining as reality is, particularly during this last year, opportunities to step into another world can be quite appealing. For some people, venturing into an altered reality provides not only an escape but also a catharsis from their daylit lives. Over the past several years, there have been several nocturnal costume balls that have been picking up in steam in SoCal, and as 2018 continues chugging along, the first two of these events will soon arrive. The first is the Edwardian Ball, the two-day affair which will make its way down from San Francisco on Feb. 9 & 10, and the second is the Endless Night Vampire Ball, which will drift into town on Feb. 23. Both events will haunt The Globe, in Downtown Los Angeles, and both will provide their guests with an opportunity to cross over into another world; however, after speaking with the creative forces behind each of those events, it behooves this writer to report that the altered realities of these distinct realms may not be as distinct from reality as they appear to be from a distance.

Edwardian Ball 2016 (Scott Feinblatt)

The differences between these two events are obvious. One features a vampire theme, and one features, well, an Edwardian theme. Father Sebastiaan, the impresario of the Endless Night Vampire Ball, has been steeped in vampiric events since the ‘90s, when he started a night club called Long Black Veil, in New York. In an upcoming book, entitled Black Veils, Sebastiaan will be outlining the philosophy, ethics, and culture of his club, which evolved into Endless Night. The ethos of the Edwardian Ball, as explained by its hosts / producers Justin Katz and Mike Gaines, is that it is an event based on a hybrid of Edward Gorey’s illustrations and Edwardian / Victorian fashion — a hybrid which Katz calls, “its own universe in which very little makes sense in any direction.”

When asked about the nature of their events in terms of escapism, the producers of the respective events both shied away from the term. Sebastiaan said, “When you enter the Endless Night, you’re going into an alternative reality that is really an amplification of the modern reality.” He elaborated by stressing that the event mixes reality with older traditions, citing Victorian tea and gentlemen’s art. “We want to resurrect old traditions,” he said. As for the event being centered on the vampire, Sebastiaan pointed out, “The vampire is a time traveler and a multicultural experience,” which provides Endless Night with universal appeal. Furthermore, he said that through the use of the vampire archetype, people are able to express aspects of themselves that may not otherwise have a channel.


Gaines said something similar about the Edwardian Ball’s ability to free feelings that might not otherwise have a medium. He said, “When you put a lot of effort into your [character], as patrons do here, and then step into that world, I’m not so sure it doesn’t actually turn into reality.” Katz expanded upon the psychological implications of dressing up for a costume ball, “When people don a mask, whether it’s literally covering their face or just an accessory to character, then [they] feel an openness and a permission to be something else.”


Edwardian Ball 2017 (Scott Feinblatt)

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