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Lesbian Balls... the truth revealed!

Mon 3 Oct 2005 In: Events

For years, lesbian balls have had an air of secrecy about them to rival the Freemasons. Outhouse reporter Amanda Betts couldn't even get inside at the Auckland one recently, at least not with a camera. Fortunately, in a candid conversation with one of my anonymous lesbian correspondents, I've managed to glean some information that will blow the whole lid off these mysterious annual gatherings. After plying my interview subject with truth serum, I was able to compile the following list of reasons why women attend the Lesbian Ball (in Auckland at least): - to while away the winter hours creating a new costume - or revising an old one - that can be vaguely related to this year's theme; - to check out everyone else's cossies, consider our own superior and then be mortified we didn't win; - to experience an alternative to the excruciatingly straight school ball; - to feel that for one night in the year we can be out with all our friends, all 500+ of them, and all our enemies (apart from the fundies); -to be put through our lesbian paces so we can renew our warrant of lesbian fitness; -to raise a piddling amount of money for an impoverished but important lesbian charity, while whinging about the ticket price. to do a lesbian recognition test of all those lesbians who are either much older and fatter than when we saw them last or otherwise unrecognisable due to costuming; -to do a bisexual/straight/transgender recognition test; -to pass as a lesbian if we're bisexual/straight/not sufficiently lesbian for the hardliners; - to nostalge about lesbian balls back when Sappho was a twinkle in her mother's eye; - to have it off in the ladies' loos. Or the mens' (either because we're not fussy or because it's refreshingly transgressive); - to drink a lot and then throw up in the ladies' loos. Or the men's (because they're closer or there's a vacant cubicle or we're not fussy); - to complain that the music is too retro; - to complain that the music is too loud and too modern and you can't dance to it; - to complain that there's too much ballroom dancing (never mind that it's a ball and it's in a ballroom); - to complain about the food while scoffing as much as possible; - to catch up with/glare at all our exes. That's ex-lovers, not computer applications; - to accidentally create another ex when we get a little too close to one of the existing ones, eg. by dancing cheek to cheek. So, with the announcement of Wellington's fourth annual Lesbian Ball in a flurry of mauve 80s-tinged livery, it was time to ask organiser Shazz – how much truth is there to any of the above? In keeping with tradition, she is being suitably tight-lipped. “It's going to be a fun night,” she says. “There's going to be a couple of live acts. Sue Dunlop, she's a lesbian singer and drag king. Villains and Heroes is the theme, so there'll be lots of spot prizes for costumes. There's going to be a DJ going all night, and in the other room, there'll be quieter music for the older ladies.” Oh. So no secret chants, handshakes or religious rituals then? “No.” What about those who suffer from “partner pressure”? Woebetide anyone who turned up at the school ball alone. Is the Lesbian Ball only for couples? “Oh no, it's a great place to meet people,” says Shazz. In fact, in light of one of the planned events, it may even be to your advantage. “There is going to be an auction, for single women who want to put themselves forward to be auctioned off,” says Shazz. “You get them for a couple of hours!” My goodness. A couple of hours at the ball, or afterwards? “Well, it all depends what happens,” she replies saucily. And indeed, judging from the pictures of last year's event, anything could. Last year's theme “in one era, out the other” saw a plethora of bizarre outfits, from the pre-Victorian era to Star Trek. The whole event made the People Page of the Dominion Post (five of the six photographers were male according to the credits, how did they get inside?) Numbers at the ball have been building from year to year. Last year, there were 180 guests, but with an increased promotional budget for 2005 Shazz is hoping to get around 300 this time. The more relentless revellers will also be able to head-off for a women's only after-ball party at Bluenote on Cuba St, where doors will be open from 1am. There aren't going to be any door sales at this event, because the prestigious James Cook Hotel needs to know numbers in advance for catering. At any rate, it's best to get in quick because all tickets sold before October 20 will put you in the draw for a night at the womens-only Mermaid Inn right in the centre of Wellington. WHAT: Wellington Lesbian Ball 2005 WHERE: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel WHEN: 26 November 2005 TICKET PRICE: $25 unwaged/$35 waged AVAILABLE FROM: Unity Books, Bluenote, Pound Niteclub, D.Vice and online at Chris Banks - 3rd October 2005    

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Monday, 3rd October 2005 - 12:00pm

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