…there exists a place called L.A.
There dwell creatures of the night, glittering vampires, countryless queens, and countless screenwriters working tables and pushing daily specials, their eyes veined with silver from living so close to the Dream.
Every day, these free agents of social norm toil away at the daily grind, their true natures often hidden beneath the steel-gray mantle of Realistic, Responsible, and Common Sense, trying to make their way in the world like we all must…by placing one foot in front of the other and keeping our eyes fixed on the bright lights of the horizon.
Once a year, temporary alliances are drawn between goblins and faeries, Blue Bloods and commonfolk, even angels and their fallen brethren as they come together for two nights united in a common cause: to celebrate the Beautiful, the Absurd, the Outrageous, and the Sideshow Freaky.
This, my friends, is the Labyrinth of Masquerade Ball!
And if you haven’t heard of it, haven’t been to it, you must change that now, this year. There’s still time! The Labyrinth of Jareth XVII is happening July 4th and 5th, at The Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California!
Sadly, I cannot make the ball this year, for I am previously committed to the 1st Annual Fry Fest that will be happening in my backyard, and thus, will be tending to my cauldron, checking for golden brown and crunchy…so you will have to tell me how it turns out. You’ll be glad you did.
It’s something I think anyone who’s ever felt a little bogged down by the “shoulds” and “musts” of “real life” should experience…because it’s like a dream. It starts out with straight lines, laws of physics strictly observed…then suddenly you exhale, open your eyes, and nothing makes sense…and you realize this is real life….
I went in 2012.
Amanda Panda, my sister-in-law, Costumer Extraordinaire, invited me to go with her, my brother, and some of their friends. As is my bent, I said yes…for it’s not just a celebration of all things masquerade and costumes and sequins. It is also a celebration of my favorite movie growing up…Labyrinth.
[NERD ALERT! Oops…too late.]
I used to have the whole movie memorized. I owned puffy shirts (the kind Jerry Seinfeld hates). I laid awake at night trying to untangle the logic between the Door that Leads to the Center of the Labyrinth and the Door that Leads to…ba-baba-boom!…Certain Death!…[whoo-oo-oo!]
I was 13 years old when this movie came out — that age when we are most susceptible to rabid, unquestioning fandom — and it was pure magic. I loved it. I had a mad crush on David Bowie’s Goblin King, and sometimes wished Sarah would just let him have a little control…dang!
If you get it, then ya’ll know what I’m talking about. But for those who missed out on the Labyrinth experience in their formative years, it doesn’t matter. Magic flows into any open heart.
All you have to do is say yes, get gussied up, and get in the car!
I decided to go as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas…another fantastic film!…because…well, just because. 🙂 (That’s the beauty of this kind of dress code…I’m tellin’ ya!…Casual Fridays are out, Cosplay Tuesdays are in!)
Since I was driving in from the hinterlands of the Inland Empire (doesn’t that sound like an evil empire?), the plan was to meet up with Amanda & Co. at the venue, The Legen (wait for it) dary Park Plaza Hotel.
Driving to L.A. is always a little like driving to Oz. Look! The Wells Fargo Building! Their parking rates are heart-stopping, but there’s a great Chinese restaurant in there.
Over the freeway and past the hood to Grandmother’s house we go…
I knew I had arrived when I saw winged females sashaying up the sidewalk next to a hulking werewolf.
My friends were running late, so I ventured on in alone.
Wouldn’t you know it, the moment I stepped through the grand entrance, a man brightened in recognition and called out, “Where’s Jack?”
“Jack! Jack Skellington?”
Oops. “Oh…um…he’s stationed out of state, but maybe next year.”
I considered what chance I had in tricking Fat Cat to dress against his own immovable nature and go to L.A. for a “surprise thing.” We’ll see. Sometimes he surprises me.
Wow! Stepping inside was like stepping into a movie. I was instantly struck by the thought that I wish every day were like this, that business casual meant horns were optional, but faerie wings encouraged.
My second thought was, “I bet all these people are accountants, lawyers, and doctors.” Probably not, but I’m sure they were there. I began to wonder at everyone’s true nature.
I made my way through the ballrooms, past a man wearing elfin ears and liquid dancing to his own beat, the shining doppelgangers of Jareth and Sarah (clearly now in a long-term and mature relationship), and more winged beasts than I could shake a stick at.
Just like in a dream, incongruous images began to slide past me as the rooms filled up with merrymakers, one after another, unconnected and connected, senseless and dawning realization.
Drums were building in the distance, thrumming in my blood, pounding to the rhythm of my feet as I searched through the crowds for something familiar. And then I found them, my long lost tribe. I found the belly dancers.
Encouraging zaghareets flew up from the crowd like the call of exotic birds. I added my own soft zaghareet, feeling shy and a bit like a dusty old traveler returned home unrecognized.
It didn’t matter. In the spirit of Faire, everyone is the same, and part of, and all good things.
I miss the bellydance community. I suspect I am not long from returning. Who can resist being a part of something so beautiful?
After the dancers spun away to other things, I checked in on my friends. On their way! Oh, goodie. Maybe I’ll go find the bar to wait for them….
Found the bar…a few times….
Ran into this dude….sweet guy. Preschool teacher, I think he said he was, or something along those lines. He kindly directed me towards the food court.
Hallelujah! The food court! Looks like a vintage studio photo from the 1940s, doesn’t it? There’s Matthew Broderick sitting with Bat Girl in the foreground!
Okay. It’s been a midsummer night’s dream up to this point, but now we gotta talk some serious business. Food. Look at the picture above. What you are looking at is a Kobe Beef Slider with Shoestring Potatoes, specialty of Slammin’ Sliders. Beyond good…especially after spending an evening cavorting with the faerie folk. So good that I took a picture of their food truck so I could track them down later and tell you about them. That good.
At this point, my evening was complete. I could go home a happy ragdoll creation of Dr. Finkelstein’s now that I had those burgers in my belleh!
But then a fly and a unicorn walked into the joint….
… and the band struck up a chord that traveled from Windows to Sky….(they were really fantastic!)…
My peeps had arrived! And the wait was worth it…they were simply ravishing! That’s when the party really took off!
We did what we could to paint the castle crimson, but even bedtime comes for the wicked, especially when they’re old and live far away and have had too much to eat. It was, alas, time for me to go before I turned into a pumpkin. So I sent out a signal to the Mother Ship. Beam me up, Scotty!
The Mother Ship responded by sending me a tooth fairy…which was about right. She gave me a dollar and pointed the way back to the parking lot, and real life, which at that point, was exactly what I needed. 🙂
Note: If you do decide to make this wondrous event — and I hope you do — please be aware the lighting is pretty dark, which is why I ended up with so many black and white photos. All of these were taken on an iPhone 4 and adjusted in iPhoto. I imagine with the right sort of camera and flash, you’d end up with some pretty incredible pictures just like the ones on The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball‘s Facebook page.