Event of the Month: Antigua’s 2nd Annual Masquerade Ball
Inspired by the success of a similarly themed party she organized for her husband’s 60th birthday two years ago, Lyne Bissonnette decided to throw a Venetian style ball last year, open to the public and benefiting local NGOs. Due to the success of the first ball, the event has now become an Antigua affair not to be missed!
Originally, the masquerade ball in Venice gave the people an opportunity to celebrate and indulge on Mardi Gras before the start of Lent. The street masquerade allowed Venetians to enjoy themselves without the social barriers which normally separated people. The first costumes were simple and based on characters from the Commedia dell’Arte, and along with the masks, gave the revelers anonymity and the ability to mingle with people they normally would not have had the opportunity to meet. Not surprisingly, many couples met, fell in love, and married shortly after the event. Not that we’ll be seeing an increase of matrimony in Antigua, but one never knows; after all, wearing a costume and mask – an element which contributes highly to the intrigue and entertainment of the evening – allows you to be a little more outgoing, a little more flirtatious. As Lyne reminisced about the original party, “I was shocked to see how people’s behavior changed once they were in costume. How all of a sudden they became free, playing [a character] and doing things they wouldn’t normally do in regular life. It makes the ambiance of the party so much more dramatic.”
Over time, the costumes of the Venetian Ball have become increasingly extravagant. And since, as Lyne says, “The décor [will be] the people,” guests are encouraged to fully participate. Last year, costumes were spectacular, traditional, mysterious, romantic, and comical – all were entertaining – with the most inspired and memorable bringing home prizes. Maybe you’ll be the winner this year.
If you’re wondering where you’ll be able to find a costume, look no further than the paca – an area at the back of the local market – where you can find a plethora of costume making materials from used bridesmaid’s gowns to yards of old curtains which can be transformed, either by your own hands and imagination or by any capable, local seamstress, into an extravagant costume. The event’s website has more information on where to get your costume and mask, as well as photos from last year’s event for inspiration.
Besides benefiting NGOs who work so tirelessly to help the less fortunate, such as Los Niños, CasaSito, Foto Kids, Child Aid and Proyecto Zacapa, the goal of the event is to create something new for Antigua, as Lyne says, “Antigua deserves to have a Carnaval; let’s become the place to go for Carnaval in Central America” – a goal she can’t accomplish without your participation!
On March 8th at 5 PM, there will be a parade from La Merced to San José el Viejo, where the ball will be held from 6-11 PM. Included in the ticket price (Q500 per person) will be food prepared by Chef Noe from El Rincon del Conquistador, two glasses of wine, entertainment and live music. Foto Kids will be taking the official event photos this year. Tickets can be purchased at Antigua Tabaco Compañía (Map E5) or by contacting your favorite NGO. For more information, visit www.antiguavenetianball.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 7832-9420.