Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade XX

Have you ever wished you could put on a princess dress and fly away to a magical realm where anything is possible? The Labyrinth Masquerade Ball is the closest thing you can get to that, and it just came back to the Millenium Biltmore Hotel here in Los Angeles for its twentieth year! My husband I had the pleasure of being among its may attendees last night. As a bonus, it even gave me a rare excuse to wear my wedding dress again. I was surprised how many compliments I got on it, considering how many elaborate fantasy and faery costumes there were.

Beginning in 1997, the Labyrinth of Jareth was inspired by the masquerade scene featuring the late David Bowie in Jim Henson's 1986 film, Labyrinth. In order to recreate the dreamlike quality of the film, the event requires all attendees to wear either formal attire and masks or elaborate fantasy costumes. People go all out for this each year, donning tons of glittery, enormous wings, face paint, light-up props, and anything else you could possibly imagine in a fantasy setting. Many people attend wearing dresses created by my absolute favorite seamstress, JoEllen Elam of Firefly Path. Everything she makes looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. It's a very surreal feeling to walk through crowds of elves, faeries, and goblins, without being quite sure where you're heading. Even though they provided a map of the hotel this year, there is no guide to tell you what is happening in what room, leaving you to wander around and hope for the best, just like a real labyrinth.

It is very difficult to describe this event to someone who has never been to it before. It's part Renaissance Faire, part convention, part dance, and part show, but with an entirely different atmosphere than any of these things. There is no definitive plan of what to do when you get there. The entertainment and activities are scattered among the hotel's many ballrooms. You will see something different in the same room depending on what time you enter it. If you're like me and have no sense of direction, the whole event will feel like a strange dream you got lost in.

There are many entertainers of all sorts at the masquerade, so you should find something to enjoy no matter what tickles your fancy. Depending which room you choose and at what point you step into it, you may find jugglers, dancers, magicians, musicians, singers, acrobats, and more. This was my second time attending, and I found the entertainment this year to be quite different from the last time. Of course, that may only be because I caught different performances than the last time I went. The Goblin Caberet room stood out to me in particular this year. It had a bunch of silly green goblins running on and off the stage, alternating between introducing impressive acts from other performers and singing or goofing off. At one point, a female goblin began randomly lip syncing to "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid while other goblins threw plastic fish at her. You can never know just what to expect at these things.

Because it is a masquerade, you can be sure that there's plenty of dancing too. It can be a romantic evening with a partner or a great way to meet new people. The various ballrooms feature different types of dance. The main room has more free style dancing, but it's usually very crowded. The dances are also interrupted from time to time as the entertainers of the ball perform different acts of a very loose story throughout the night. A lower level ballroom features the Victorian Tea & Dance Company, which guides couples in traditional old style ballroom dances involving lots of spinning, bowing, and switching partners. That room particularly made me feel like a real princess at a royal cotillion. It's also a great way to learn how to do something new.

There are few events in that can actually transport a person to another realm. One a year, the gateways between realms open, the doors to the labyrinth are unlocked. The Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball is a one-of-a-kind experience. If you've ever wanted an opportunity to feel like a princess at a fairy tale ball, it's worth attending at least once, especially if you live near Los Angeles. It takes place every year during the summer. Also, if you like masquerades, be sure to check out my novel, Most Wanted Knight, which features a major scene at a royal masquerade ball just like the one I attended yesterday.


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