Some people take entertainment and diversion a bit further than others. Putting on a concert t-shirt and disappearing into a mob of folks with similar musical tastes is more or less the norm. Beyond that, there are: comic cons, which feature cosplayers; horror conventions, where one can witness monstrous make-up designs and designer gothic wardrobes; and then we get to the more serious stuff. Remaining just this side of sexual fetish events, there is The Edwardian Ball, which fosters an environment of overwhelming artistry and decadence, and Labyrinth Masquerade, which goes a wee bit further in terms of imagination and role-play.
The event is based on David Bowie's character, Jareth the Goblin King, from Jim Henson's movie Labyrinth. Essentially, the masquerade is supposedly being thrown by the goblin king, himself, and the tens of thousands of Southern Californians heed the call and transform themselves into goblins, fairies, elves, human princes and fair maidens in order to participate in and complete the illusion. The posh fantasy event could not have been staged in a better location this year. While it was odd to see woodsprites walking down Grand Avenue, in downtown Los Angeles, once they entered the masquerade's new digs, the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel, they might just as well have entered a fairy castle. The event was staged throughout the lobby, various bars and nooks, a performance room (labeled "The Goblin Cabaret"), and two large ballrooms (dubbed "The Temple" and "The Clockwork Ballroom").
Part of the charm of the event was supplied by the official entertainment, which included various goblin and minstrel shows, performances by bands Alice and The Band That Fell To Earth (a David Bowie tribute band), ballroom dancing, and various other impressive acrobatic and performance acts cultivated by Sypher Arts Studio (the company responsible for throwing this event). However, the real charm was in simply walking around and marveling at the extensive unique ornamentation of the guests. So voluminous was the guest list that one could spend the entire evening frantically snapping photos (as many did) and still discover onslaughts of fresh costume designs until the night ended. And so it went.
Amidst photo ops, stage shows, psychic readings, drinking, exotic vendors, interactions with mischievous roaming goblins, drinking, dance floors, rock concerts, tea with pastries, and drinking, guests marveled at one another while some assumed their own unique personas and others strutted around like peacocks in their own fantastic aristocratic world. It was definitely a let down to have to return to reality as, in addition to the spectacle, there was a general sense of mutual respect which resonated in the crowd. Whether wearing the trappings of a prince or sporting the fangs and fur of a werewolf, the opposing forces in this fantasy world had found a way to coexist peacefully. Who would have known that peace on Earth could be found in a facsimile of another world?