Tuesday, November 1, 2011

goblins & gears- not your average humdrum charity event

This past Saturday evening my good friend Emily and I attended Team Wench's Multiple Sclerosis Fantasy Ball in Glen Burnie, Maryland.  We drove the 50 minutes from her apartment to the event at Michael's Eighth Avenue, wondering what we would find and if we would freeze to death since it was apparently cold enough to snow in the DC area this weekend.

Emily in her steampunk attire.  Who would have guessed this was her first ever attempt at dressing steampunk?!

While parking we searched in vain for steampunk-clad participants entering the building.  Now we were thrown for a loop- were we even at the right place?  But the address matched that on my Google Map directions, and how many places called Michael's Eighth Avenue could there really be in Glen Burnie?

Once inside, however, two ushers greeted us knowingly and pointed us to the right banqueting hall.  We turned a corner, and- lo and behold!- there was a line of steampunkers ready to party like it was 1899!

The venue was a large banqueting hall with several dozen eight-person round tables.  We chose a table with a very nice couple who weren't quite dressed for a steampunk/faerie event- they had met Team Wench at one of the Multiple Sclerosis walks that this ball was meant to raise money for, and decided to come.  They did have full masquerade gear on, though, and took the rest of us steampunkers and faeries in excellent stride.  They decorated our table with balloons and a glittery peacock feathers centerpiece- certainly the most cheerful centerpiece of all the tables:



The ball seemed to be a mix of pure steampunk enthusiasts as well as people with Multiple Sclerosis and their families.  Most of the participants appeared to be in steampunk garb- so much so that I wondered if any faerie enthusiasts were there.  But after the announcer officially opened the ball- who thanked us, to much appreciative laughter, for coming to support the cause of curing "Hysteria in Our Time"- the Goblin Queen made her dramatic entrance as the "rift" between the steampunk world and the fantasy world was opened.  She certainly had Jareth's hair, although I couldn't exactly get a good photo of her because of the dang fog machine that made it nearly impossible to take clear photos for the next twenty minutes:

The Goblin Queen
She was followed by a mischievous entourage of flora-clad dancers (known as the Aubergine Dance Troupe), faeries, and even a goblin soldier:


The Goblin Soldier
And then the dancing and music began.  After the Aubergine Dance Troupe performed we were treated to music by Petal Blight, followed by the costume and mask contests and more music by The Clockwork Dolls.

Petal Blight & The Aubergine Dance Troupe

The Clockwork Dolls
There was delicious buffet-style food aplenty, a variety of yummy desserts, an open bar, and plenty of opportunities to donate more money and get something out of the bargain.  These were a plethora of bag raffles available where the purchase of a ticket could give you a chance to win anything from faerie figurines to a full chain mail shirt to a champagne basket:

Bag Raffle Table

One could also purchase pins, flowers, masks, slots in the costume and mask contests, a magician, self-portrait photos taken by a professional photographer, and arrest warrants to place fellow ball-goers in the "Containment Unit" for a brief span of time:




Not knowing anyone else at the ball personally and not having a previous history of deviousness towards each other, Emily and I thought we were safe from the arrest.  Alas, it was not to be.  Emily and I had just returned to our table after taking some photos of dancers and the band when a goblin approached us with two arrest warrants.  Our crime?  "The improper possession of illegal firearms."

Emily then began to accuse me of actually possessing them, while I accused her of bringing them into the hall in the first place as we were grudgingly led to the Containment Unit.  There the jailer refused to tell us when we would be let out and tried to get us to bribe him to be let out.  The bartender offered to bring us drinks as a crowd gathered to take photos of the two steampunk jailbirds:

"Nobody knows the troubles I've seen..."
I tried to get a toddler in faerie garb who was passing by to pull the pin that held the door closed, because I felt that it would be cheating to pull the pin myself.  Unfortunately my would-be liberator was incapable of pulling the pin sufficiently enough, and instead showed off how she could fit in and out of the bars and told us that we should do the same... duh!

Eventually the jailer let us out because we were "complaining too much."

I did enter the costume contest, and was pleasantly surprised when my costume was chosen as one of the six finalists.  The inevitable winner, however, was the Goblin Warrior.  I will post photos of that when I receive them- I obviously couldn't take photos during the contest as a participant- but Emily took some.

Overall it was a wonderful night filled with beautiful and elaborate costumes, lots of entertainment, and so much fun on the side.  Despite the fun we never forgot the reason we were there- at midnight there was a moment of silence for those who suffer with Multiple Sclerosis.  And throughout the night I could not help but reflect every so often about how this event was definitely beyond the kind of event that my grandmother would have ever attended even when she had not yet been diagnosed with MS.  But Team Wench did an amazing job- so much so that I fully feel as if the $50 I spent to attend the event was not so much a donation but an admission from which I got my full money's worth of food and fun.

The magician performing a card trick

A beautiful faerie with her hand-made wings
The winner of the mask contest, who fashioned her hand-made dress to look like Christine's dress from her debut song in The Phantom of the Opera (2004)



One of the dancers, trying to figure out how to put a paperclip on this guy without him knowing
Our tablemates.  The one next the Emily is responsible for our arrest.

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