In a world where the only magical occurrence is getting paid on time, comes a new dawn, where mysticism and folklore meet to create an artificial dimension,that for one night only will offer you the solace and escapism that you so crave. Away from the bright lights of the big city, where office drones are chained to their desks, lies a beautiful irreality, where faeries meet with juggling acrobats, while stilt walkers stride through empty plains in search of their card playing magician. But while this sounds like some ‘nonsensical dream that I have plucked out of my thoughts, the reality is London houses secret magic too, open to those who dare to life their lives without prohibition. As the masks go on and the disguises begin, elegant gowns and suits traipse into the Roof Garden’s Late Summer Nights Dream Masquerade Ball. Suited and booted, we merge as one;for one night only we are actors, some are Hollywood Starlets poised and elegant while others are Dark Ravens, hungrily scouring the place for mystery and adventure.
I am a flower queen and my guest a dark lady, enclosing secrets behind her gold and black encrusted mask. I stay maskless unafraid to make my mark in this magical alternative universe, a lone voice among many. I am A and the Dark Lady is G, golden flax locks snaking out from underneath her mask and together we are an invincible team.We make our way into the open garden and marvel at the twined arches, overlooking the roof gardens.The ground is wet from earlier rainfall and the puddles create reflective mirages that gleam with red, green and purple. I hear the fairies titter, as they talk among themselves and wander back inside, in search of the musical laughter that entranced us both. We turn and face the stilt walkers who offer to show us the clandestine pleasures that exist beyond the night, watching as their ornately embroidered costumes glint mischievously in the darkness. There is a delicious juxtaposition between light and shadow and we watch the shadows dance, like the impish sprites that they are, before striding purposefully towards the bar. Our cocktails are waiting and we sip thirstily, drained by our encounter with the impish sprites.
Suddenly we are re-energized but the office drones are still emerging, there is no one dancing save two, the intoxication hasn’t hit yet and us actors have not warmed up to our roles. So we familiarize ourselves with our late night home, people watching if you will, while the DJ sets his tracks. A saxophonist emerges from the shadows and we begin to dance, swaying to an intoxicating rhythm, as we leave our office suits behind. We picture ourselves to be back in summer, at a late night island party where the masquerade ball invites us in so overtly, begging us to leave our real lives behind. We drink more and more and watch the people blur into dancing shadows, the faeries take centre stage now. A red headed faerie strides into the centre of the dance floor and we gasp as her wings light up. They are coated with electric lights, but we pretend not to see, entranced by the magical game of make believe that we have been swept into. The music gets louder as the mating ceremony begins and the fariee queen takes her lover, who steps out from behind the shadows.
The Faerie King clamors for The Queen’s attention, as he weaves glow sticks around her majestic wings, smiling slyly as he weaves his magic. She smiles too but still she waits, watching the lights change from green to blue, purple to red. They dance together and we sidle away,as their public entertainment becomes private, spying a magician in the distance who is dancing with cards. We watch on, curious to see what all the fuss is about. I remain with folded arms, not easily impressed but G watches on with wonder. Then it is our turn to take part and we watch as he makes money disappear, finds our hidden cards and erases memories. But still I remain cynical, unimpressed by card tricks which I have seen a thousand times before. We take our steps back onto the dancefloor, where the room is heaving with sweating bodies. So we join them, dancing to the beat of another world, watching as the vultures circle the female dancers. It’s a scene I know all too well and when a young masked man turns towards us I can almost mouth the words that he will want to say.
His eye roves over G, spell bound by the mysteries that hide behind her gilded mask and I am the other woman, at one with the dark shadows that envelop me in their penetrative guise. We knock back drinks and I watch them flirt, a spectator watching an intimate scene, but I don’t mind. I’m used to being the one that noone notices, the funny one, whose fun to hang out with but nothing more. We dance with others and let the mysticism of the night take over, as we all merge as one, sharing one singular breath. I remain sober in a sea of merry partygoers but still I dance,for myself more than others. I imagine that I have found a prince. He wouldn’t be a ‘frog prince’ nor would he be a toad; he would be a real man, who would treat me with respect and courtesy. Wherever he was, he wasn’t there that night and as I watched the couples and singletons dance together,I smiled and thought to myself- one day that will be me.
We went our separate ways and I walked miles into the night, the last train had long gone and the next station was half an hour away. I was thankful for the coolness of night, which was a balm to my blistered feet and the fresh air gave me the clarity that I needed. It had been a good night, but now I had to return to reality, where the emails squawked in my inbox to be open and my to do list would grow ever bigger. But for one night only, I too had become an actor and while I might have remained in the shadows, people watching, the music still pulsed through my head the next day.
Have You Ever Been To A Masquerade Ball?
Please note I was compensated for this post and offered complimentary tickets in exchange for this post. All thoughts are my own and not influenced by monetary compensation.
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