The Great May Masked Ball: A Review in Prose

Entering the cavernous arches of the SeOne venue underneath London Bridge, the people swarm like uncaged peacocks at the zoo. Some are beautifully plumed–sequins and great feathered masks adorning lace and silk-clad bodies–lithe and toned creatures of the warm summer night. But these birds are a rarity among the lesser pedigreed animals who had caught wind of the event and had arrived to gatecrash the party. Cheap dresses and stripes, bright feathered masks not concealing the abundance of poseurs who sadly crowded the queues.

Spirited dandies skipped down the messy lines, passing out sweet candied apples, small misshapen toys. Greedy fists with sharp painted nails plunge into open wicker carriers, and I emerge clutching tightly a small brown four-eyed hippo that peers sadly at me from the bottom of the  basket.

Entering the venue at long last, I am flushed with the heat of bodies pressing into mine, squeezed into my steel corset and hooped skirt, scanning the mesh of eager faces crowded in a tight knot around the bar, partygoers with notes in hand, desperate to imbibe in their intoxication of desire. Faint, I drift towards the back wall, slipping out of my silken gloves to press my hands against the wall, finding comfort in the cool stone.

A friend arrives with my drink in hand, and I drain the cool liquid juice as we make our way into the next room of The Feast, where the chocolate fountain of gluttony beckons. Warm rivers of chocolate pour forth onto waiting skewered fruit and sweets, melting syrupy sweet in my mouth. A reclining nude youth beckons from Suzette Field’s famous cheeseboard spread, where the pigeons gorge on scattered brie, honeyed crackers, coconut marshmallows, Italian olives and gingerbread men, along with yesterday’s cakes and other assorted delicacies.   

Is this a dream or is this reality? I watch others riding the squatting mechanical doll, and take my turn, kicking off my underskirt as I grip on tightly, whirling past the laughing and clapping of the crowd, the excited impatient faces. I come to a stop, gravity returning but the spell continuing as I slip on my burgundy satin dancing shoes, and move to the music spilling out of the adjoining area, twirling to the beat of the Trans-Siberian Marching Band, Louis Eliot and The Embers, and The London Gay Symphony Orchestra. As the live music comes to a stop but the DJ’s play on, I snack on salted popcorn handed to me by a cheerful man in a striped suit and lie amongst the chattering strangers on small circular beds, staring at the large silver screen playing The Red Shoes, beautiful 40s ballerinas dancing in silence, their expressive eyes and delicate lips drowned out by the loud music, the roar of the people.

As the night wears on, the original decadents chased away by the large clutter of the populace, my comrades and I remain, watching as the first fight breaks out, cheese and fruit flying amongst shouts and laughter. The smell of cheese fills the room as I slip on the sticky floors, waltz amongst the spilled popcorn and dissolving sweetness of pink candy floss. Somehow, the night is even more magical now, the careful layout of the cheeseboard ruined, candied apples and grapes mixed with the remaining cakes and brie, the naked living statue having fled as the crowds thin and the staff closes off the now-trashed banquet hall.

Feeling like the last guest at Miss Havisham’s unwedding, I sweep the rooms for discarded treasures. Teddy bears both large and small, a sticky lamb and discarded jewelled mask dangle from my arm as my coach awaits. Climbing out of the taxi into the night air, the evening at a close but my memories and objects remain, the tangible proof of a fantasy made real, if only for one night…


6 Responses to “The Great May Masked Ball: A Review in Prose”

  1. Martin Conway Says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the prose, am a big last tuesday Society fan, the masked ball being a particular highlight this year, but had rather mixed feelings about Friday night.

    Definately more positive than negative but think your writing encapsulated the night rather well.

    Keep it coming!

  2. Martin Conway Says:

    sorry the highlight I was refering to was the masked ball at the V&A: a truly magical night!

  3. Some beautiful writing here, I looved your descriptions if all the colours and the difference between all the people there.
    The bit with the mecanical arm (?) could be embellished though because that kind of confused me lol.
    Sounds like a great night out though ^^

  4. Loving your prose. I play in the London Gay Symphony and thouroughly enjoyed the night!

  5. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments! (I had to sadly leave the UK for two very long years hence my absence due to Visa issues) However I am now back and looking forward to more fabulous, decadent but most of all inspiring parties of the Last Tuesday Society. I was sad to hear of Wynd and Field’s parting recently, but happy that it was so amicable, and Victor Wynd posted that there will be new balls, events and activities from The Last Tuesday Society come november *quivers with anticipation*. Hehe. Just sad I missed Suzettes Field’s Wilderness festival tomorrow, actually on my birthday but I found out too late, sadly.

    Looking forward to see what coming surprises both A Curious Invitation and Wynd/The Last Tuesday Society have in store. ^_^

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