Weekend in review: Persephone's Ball 2007.

16 April 2007

A couple of weeks ago Lyssa and I hooked up with House Eclipse to buy seats at a second table at Persephone's Ball 2007, the annual fundraising dinner held by the Open Hearth Foundation in their effort to set up a community center for the pagan community of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. They've been at this for almost ten years now; I've been keeping my eye on it for about five but this is the first time that I've ever participated in one of their functions. We weren't sure what our schedule was going to be like on Saturday because we'd spent just about the entire day running errands, and the fine details of transportation hadn't yet been figured out, but we got back home with just enough time to get ready before everyone started arriving.

Persephone's Ball is a masquerade ball, something that attracted Lyssa and I almost immediately to the idea because you don't see many of them these days, and moreover we love an excuse to get dressed up. To that end, we donned our Sunday's best on Saturday afternoon and got ourselves ready to see and be seen, and possibly to make a couple of new friends in the community. Jason was the first to arrive, and opted for facepaint instead of wearing a mask. Lyssa had also opted to use makeup in lieu of wearing a mask that night. I wore my black leather half-mask and one of my prosthetic contact lenses on Saturday night. Hasufin had a small black eye mask that night, and Mika had none, though the red velvet dress she wore was most impressive.

Jason wound up driving Hasufin, Mika, Lyssa, and myself up to Maryland to the hotel at which the Ball was being held this year. Due to the rain and traffic, what promised to be a jaunt to Silver Spring turned into an hour-long trek. The rest of House Eclipse met up with us at the hotel, having run into similar problems en route. For the sake of brevity I'll give everyone the highlights of the night: First of all, dinner last night was, as Lyssa quoted Shannon from the ICFA conference a couple of years back, "Stunningly mediocre."

The salad was, well, a salad. They're hard to screw up. The chicken breast was all right and the asparagus was remarkably good for an out-of-season vegetable, I thought, but Lyssa is our resident gourmand, and failed to be impressed. The mashed potatoes were, we're fairly certain, instant in origin and not all they were cracked up to be. As for dessert, the creme' brulee wasn't set, wasn't cold, and did not have the characteristic caramelised and solidified surface. It was, in fact, pretty bad. Of the twenty or so people at both tables, our average rating of dinner on Saturday night was an amazing four flareguns. We wound up going to the local IHOP after returning to NOVA, it was so bad.

On top of all of this, I wasn't terribly impressed with the people or how they acted toward one another at the Ball. The people there were almost to a one very cliquish, and didn't particularly want to talk to any of us, for any reason. There were a few exceptions whom we met while standing out front of the hotel with the rest of the smokers, and as it turns out I work with one of them. As a general rule of thumb, if the nicest and most friendly people you meet at a gather of any kind are the ones outside smoking and avoiding the party, there's something very wrong. I spent a decent amount of time at the Ball mingling and listening to people talk, and I was even less impressed by what I overheard.

On top of all of this, Orthaevelve donated over $500us worth of her work to the Open Hearth Foundation for the silent and live auctions. She worked for weeks on her contributions to the auction, in addition to taking classes. However, she received very little recognition for her work, and not much in the way of respect from the people who spent the most time bidding on it. The hell of it was that when the auctions were all said and done, her work alone had raised nearly $1kus for the community center project.

The music on Saturday night wasn't bad, I have to admit. It's not ordinarily my thing, but I can appreciate music played live for people because I used to play a couple of instruments. Live performances are not an easy thing because there are so many variables to keep track of, and it's very difficult to not get nervous. On top of all of that, writing music is a very difficult thing. If you're the sort to stand around and criticize original pieces because you're not a fan, by all means I challenge you to sit down with a couple of sheets of staff paper and write something yourself. The floor show during dinner was done by the dancers of Romka Dance, and were a most impressive sight to see. I've never seen a dancer working with lit oil candles before, and she did an excellent job with them. I was also quite taken with the duet dance they did, as well as their antics with the ceremonial sword during the live auction. If you hear about Romka Dance peforming anywhere in the DC metropolitan area, I highly suggest that you make the time to get tickets and attend.

The night ended when all of us decided that we'd had enough of the second band, the third performance of the night, doing painful covers of 80's songs. By painful, I mean that one of their guitars was out of tune, and whomever was working the sound board didn't do a very good job of setting the channels properly; I kept fighting the urge to walk over there and do it myself. We split up and headed back to our respective vehicles and returned home to change into more comfortable clothing and then invade IHOP for a very late breakfast/dinner/what have you.

I finally got to bed around 0330 EST5EDT on Sunday morning, which set my sleep schedule about five inches off center for the rest of the weekend, though it was entirely my fault for drinking three cups of coffee at 0200.