The Grand International Cosplay Ball

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Report by Jonathan Cullinane (nert) posted Wednesday 10th December 2008

An unsuspecting newly refurbished ballroom in London lay unaware of a slightly different clientèle heading its way on a Sunday evening, as the most.. fashionable cosplay event of the year took place in the Clapham Grand.


Certainly not a minor undertaking this event is the first of its kind in the UK, following the trials and successes conventions such as Amecon, London MCM Expo and Auchinawa have had with cosplay ball events, the masterminds behind this particular venture set out to hire a full ballroom for an evening of smartly dressed revelry. Set away from the standard convention faire, the dress code was much more clearly in place, while set dances and entertainment pieces mixed throughout the entire evening.

Here there were no common themes or trends to be spotted, original designs mixed with exquisite artbook-based ballgowns, military uniforms mingled with black ties aplenty, while international visitors and guests alike joined in with the more familiar crowds.

Special guests featured world-renowned cosplayer and model Yaya Han - all the way from the United States, Hiko Suzuki - actress, singer, dancer and model, Isabelle Jeudy and Damien Ratte - winners of the World Cosplay Summit 2007 from France, Akemi Solloway - Japanese culture expert, Trixie Malicious - professional burlesqeue performer, and Manga Shakespeare artists Emma Vieceli and Sonia Leong.

Performances included live singing and music, a spectacular fire performance from CanaDark, kimono fashion display, burlesque performance, and set dances while the rest of the evening had music supplied by the DJs of J-Pop Go!

Away from the dance floor, several cocktail bars had a special menu for the evening, while sushi and cosplay accessories were on sale at other desks, tiered seating in the balcony gave a place to rest and hidden away upstairs was an Alice-in-Wonderland themed photoshoot area which booked out almost immediately.

The sound system had its quirks during the evening sadly, the volume in the seating areas being even louder than the dance floor itself! Thus things did get a little cozy on the ground floor, but such is all the better for talking to a whole lot of people. Spirits were high throughout the evening, the minor glitches not even able to put a scratch on the enjoyment of the evening as a whole. With the closing time extended to 1am, you could clearly see very reluctant expressions on those who sadly had to leave earlier..

The atmosphere was almost indescribable, nary a long face to be seen, with absolutely everyone I spoke to having a great time, while demand for a future event seems to be high, the 18+ nature of the event and being late on a Sunday night gave it some exclusivity against those working early Monday morning but it does appear many value a night in costume over a bleary-eyed Monday morning!

Being outside of a convention gave it a much more relaxed atmosphere, there was none of the typical rushing to pack, or juggling more than the one costume, and that in turn led to a much more enjoyable night for all.

A huge success, and an event we'd certainly like to hear from again!