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29 Apr 2013 - 19:15101766
Masquerade advice
I’ll be entering the masquerade for the first time at the May 2013 Expo (and I still can’t quite believe that I am doing this). I am not quite sure what to expect so I was wondering if anyone had any advice or information about what it is like being in the masquerade – such as how many poses to do; how long to hold them for; how to avoid falling off the stage; etc.

I’m sure there will be other people in the same situation that might find a thread like this useful too.

29 Apr 2013 - 20:07101769
First off, welcome to the magical world of masquerades! It's completely normal to be nervous - I was like that on my first masquerade (in fact, I was so bad I didn't sleep a wink the night before because I was so excited/nervous about it >__<

And the truth is I still get nervous even now - I get the heebyjeebies when I'm lining up to go onstage, but the adrenaline kick when being onstage is worth it, and I've never been in a masq thinking "never again".

Tips on being onstage depend on what category you're entering in, Parade, Expert of Performance (this is limited to the expo masquerades - masquerades at other conventions are slightly different). Which category you're in dictates what time limit you have to strut your stuff, so here's a breakdown for anyone else reading:

Layout: The stage layout is a catwalk, so basically a T. The layout may alter from Expo to Expo, depending on if there's Eurocosplay finals or not (usually if it's October, there is a ramp for the Eurocosplay finalists that stays in place for the Sunday - if in May, there's just stairs) but the usual case is, you come on from one side, or from the centre if it allows it, and then come offstage the other side, where you are then allowed to sit at the side and watch the rest of the entrants.

Parade: Usually a 1 minute limit. A minute is longer than you think, so it's best to find the pace between rushing on and off without giving anyone a chance to take in your work, and spending too long on one pose. It's good to have a set of around 3-4 poses. What I usually do is go onstage, pause right at the beginning of the catwalk, pose, then go up the catwalk, and pose to each side of the audience, so they have a good view to take photos. Then walk back up to the back and pose again, before going offstage.
If it's your first few times, to stop from rushing, when posing count to 10 in your head, and then continue on.
If you're in a group, make sure you do a couple of group poses, and everyone has a chance to go up the catwalk individually or in twos if the group has a decent size.

If you're not sure about what poses to do, take a look at the source material and examine the character's mannerisms. Is there a classic pose they do throughout the anime? (for example, Ed from Full Metal Alchemist performing alchemy by clapping his hands then clapping them to the ground, or Naruto doing ninja stuff) If they don't, try to imagine the sort of things they would do (for example, Zelda from Legend of Zelda would do a regal princessey pose, such as place her hands delicately together almost as if praying). This is easier if you are taking on a prop like a sword or gun, as those are pretty straight forward in how to pose with them (and you can replicate some moments the character has with that prop)

The catwalk can also be used creatively depending on the nature of the character. For example, a zombie cosplay can slowly shuffle up and down it, pausing briefly to sniff at the audience. If your character has any lit-up parts using LEDs, you can request the lights to be dimmed as you make your way onstage and up the catwalk, leaving everyone free to be like "omg LEDs yaaay" (I love LEDs in cosplay <3)

Be sure to practise the poses before Expo, in front of a mirror, so you are confident enough to perform them on the day

Expert: you have a bigger time limit (I think it's about 2-3 minutes if I'm right, might be wrong though) so can be a bit more creative with your poses. Groups can do fight scenes (within reason) or re-enact scenes from the source. Essentially, Expert gives the chance to do a performance while also being judged on your costume also (advantages to those wanting to enter for Eurocosplay). You can do the pose routine like in Parade, but you can take your time in doing it and can add more in if you wish.

Performances: you should know more or less what you're doing. If you're acting out a skit or dance, try and make use of the whole stage, and don't be shy to come forward. Same with singing, don't stay right at the back, alternate where you stand for some variety, come up to the front at some points.

At the end of the day, everyone is going to be feeling nervous at some point in masquerades. If someone's completely calm, they're either very lucky or just hiding it very well! The best method to cure first time nerves is to talk to others - chat to the people before and after you in the line-up, they'll probably be feeling just as bad and will be welcome for the distraction! If all else fails, the cosplay desk team are there for any chats and issues. They'll be round with cups of water for everyone, and sweeties to keep up energy levels! If you have a question, you just ask them, although try not to pick the moment when they're rushing about trying to organise everyone into the correct line-up!

Aaaaah this turned out to be a really long post. whoops. |DD Hope this helps anyways! I look forward to seeing you all in the masquerade and cheering you all on from backstage or from the side depending on whether you're before or after me XD

If there are any questions, or I've forgotten something then please let me know >_<

29 Apr 2013 - 20:34101774
I'm always nervous doing masquerades, I've only done two but I shake like mad!

One excellent bit of advice that Granny Gertrude gave me when we were standing in line for an Ayacon masquerade was to hold a pose for at least 8 seconds, count them out but slowly. You'll feel like you are up for AAAAAGES but it'll literally be seconds. The expo stage is usually a large rectangle.

When you walk out, get halfway down the stage. Pose, hold for 8 seconds. Walk to (for example) the left corner at the end, face more to the left, pose for 8 seconds. Walk to the right, face a bit to the right, pose for 8 seconds. Walk to the middle, face straight out, pose for 8 and then you can walk off stage. Done, now isn't that easy

So including walking you've only been on stage for less than a minute but you've given the photographers at the left plenty of time to get an awesome photo, photographers at the right plenty of time to get a photo and anyone in the front at the centre time to get photos.

Honestly though, count out the time in your head, if you don't you'll run onstage go "oh crap i've been here for nearly an hour" and run off and only have been on stage for about 2 seconds, have no decent photos and no one will of had enough time to fully enjoy your hard work. Making the whole thing pointless. I've seen this happen a lot and is so easy to do.

29 Apr 2013 - 21:38101777
really good set of hints and tips for nervous cosplayers here




29 Apr 2013 - 22:27101779
First of all, GOOD LUCK!

It's going to be pretty nerve-wracking if it's your first, as a warning. This is completely natural, and chances are everyone else waiting to go on that stage is nervous too, so don;t worry.

Some tips I've accumulated along the way:

-DONT FORGET YOUR FACE I know the focal point of the masq is to show off your cosplay, but your facial expession is crucial to how you're depicting your character. Is your character cheeful? Smile away! Are they moody? Practice your icy scowl.

-If possible, do a little test run of your walk-on/off on the actual stage. This is very unlikely to be possible at expo unfortunately, but try to get a good look at the stage beforehand anyway to guage how much room you have to walk and manouver. If you can't practice on stage, try to find a clear space to practice moving about anyway.

-If you;re really worried about falling off, you can ask for a spotter to lurk by the stage. They have spotters anyway for the biiiig armour/fursuits so there's no harm in asking if they can keep an eye out for you too! (I asked for one as Terra because I was worried that my cape might catch on something and pull me down)

-Try to chat to the other entrants, especially if they have experience at London Expo masqs. This can help settle your general nerves, you can make some new friends, and you can pick up more tips on how to masq. Personally I find it improves the atmosphere backstage if people are having a quiet chat together. Everyone just standing there in their groups not saying much and generally looking worried just makes everyone tense.

-don't forget to have fun!

-don't be afraid to ask the organisers about any concerns (if they're not crazy busy). I've always found them to be very helpful!

A slender flame burns at the edge of my heart
Without warning, it spreads into a burning passion
30 Apr 2013 - 00:34101782
I agree with the suggestions so far!

It always helps if you examine the stage; consider what poses would looks good from what part of it. Also looking at it from the point of view of members of the audience helps with the above reason.

Also, being in good health is vital for great pics! Keep hydrated and try to have a meal before. Alot of people photograph for the masq and many of them would put their albums online and if the above was not done well on the day it would probably show.

And I defiantly agree with chatting to others backstage! Calms nerves, get tips, understand that even on one's 10th masq it could still be a daunting experience but its always good fun ^^

Alcon 2016

30 Apr 2013 - 08:46101797
i was considering entering one later in the year (if i can get my current cosplay plans pulled off) so this has been really useful to me too! it sounds soooo exciting! xxx

30 Apr 2013 - 12:29101807
Back stage at MCM Expo you are also provided with free water and sweets to keep yourself cool calm and, most importantly, hydrated. You'll find everybody is really quite friendly and a lot of chatting goes on. IT's not a tense atmosphere at all!

30 Apr 2013 - 21:40101848
Thanks a lot for all of the advice. Hopefully it will help me survive my first masquerade.

30 Apr 2013 - 21:59101850
Quote TheEmoEmu:
Back stage at MCM Expo you are also provided with free water and sweets to keep yourself cool calm and, most importantly, hydrated. You'll find everybody is really quite friendly and a lot of chatting goes on. IT's not a tense atmosphere at all!

I've found that the masq atmosphere at cons is much less tense than that at expo. Though the last expo masq I entered, it was one of the hottest days of the year and we were made to wait outside, so my memory is a little biased haha!

A slender flame burns at the edge of my heart
Without warning, it spreads into a burning passion
01 May 2013 - 09:07101864
Just wanted to say that you'll be fine! The advice you've been given so far is great. I'd actually say MCM expo isn't too bad- although its a big crowd its actually quite hard to see the audience, which takes the nerves away a bit. Just practice a few poses and you'll do a great job.

01 May 2013 - 09:58101867
My girlfriend, and some of our mates tend to enter the Sunday masquerade. So on the Saturday night we find some space outside, plug some speakers into an MP3 player, and do some dry runs.

Its a good way to think about movement, posing, and facing the audience.

01 May 2013 - 11:44101882
This post has answered a lot of my own questions about the Masquerade (this year will be my first too, doing the Saturday Parade), so thanks folks!

01 May 2013 - 18:57101914
All excellent advice.

The only other thing I would add, for what it's worth, is that if you do have a mini-routine in mind and it goes wrong on the day, don't worry about it. The only person who knows what you planned to do was you - no one will ever know you got it wrong.....

01 May 2013 - 19:05101915
I have done masq's before but I've never been sure about this so I'll ask anyway ^^;

Where should I look? Should I look directly at the audience or straight over the top of their heads towards the back wall??

01 May 2013 - 19:51101919
Look wherever you like! I try to look over the audience or do a quick scan for a friendly face rather than right at the audience. If looking at the audience scares you, don't look at them directly

A slender flame burns at the edge of my heart
Without warning, it spreads into a burning passion
01 May 2013 - 21:18101922
I just look out into the audience but not at them, the lights are usually bright enough that I can't make out faces which helps loads. I guess it depends on the pose you're doing which way you look

02 May 2013 - 08:49101932
Cool advice, I'm working on a half-assed scene for my performance.

Making me a bit worried now, I'll have to spend some time on my audio track to get it to around 2 minutes, somewhat shorter is better for me I think!

Also the advice on 8 seconds is great, I'm going to use that!

Last edited by Andrew Armstrong (02 May 2013 - 08:49)
15 May 2013 - 21:31102591
I just thought of another masquerade related question: I understand that some of the judging process takes place before the masquerade itself and was wondering what this part is like. Are the judges just getting a closer look at the costume or do they ask questions as well, and if so what kind of things do they ask?

15 May 2013 - 21:44102592
Juding before the masquerade is kinda like a interview, where you explain how you made your cosplay, how it works ect...

Some items they will have a closer look at, I remember they looked at how I made a fursuit head a few years back

15 May 2013 - 21:52102594
I've only been judged once, but the judges were awesome, they just asked "what's this bit made of" and little things like that, not a full on grilling. They're cosplayers too so they're not going to grill you down to the littlest detail, they're just wanting to know interesting bits about your cosplay and to confirm you know what stuff is made from so they know you definitely made it. Nothing to worry about.

15 May 2013 - 21:58102595
It's a fairly informal interview. They'll ask you to describe how you made it and might take a closer look at particular bits. It shouldn't take too long either.

16 May 2013 - 21:06102636
Thanks for the info.

Hmm...interviews followed by standing on stage in front of a large audience – normally two of my least favourite things but for some reason I am actually looking forward to this.

27 May 2013 - 21:11103126
I’d just like to thank everyone again for the advice. It was really helpful knowing what to expect in advance and I tried to make use of your tips while I was onstage - posing to the left, right and centre and holding the poses for a count of eight (although I will be interested to see the videos of the masquerade to see if I set any records for how quickly I managed to count to eight). It was great talking to people in the line up beforehand too. It always impresses me how helpful and friendly this community is.

I was less nervous than expected and the big cheer that I received when I walked on stage really boosted my confidence. I think the reduced visibility caused by the mask also helped here – as far as I could see, there was only one row of people watching me . The number of people there only sunk in when I took the mask off after leaving the stage.

I might even try entering another masquerade at some point once I have thought of a suitable new costume.

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