The Party from “To Catch a Thief” by Hitchcock.
(Image from
As if under pressure the laughter squirts up to the ceiling or else, like feathers from a torn quilt, drifts about in clumps in that fevered air. The two string bands, muted by the weight of human voices, labour on in the short staggered rhythms of a maniac jazz — like the steady beating of an airpump. Here on the ballroom floor a million squeakers and trumpets squash and distort the sound while already the dense weight of the coloured paper streamers, hanging upon the shoulders of the dancers, sways like tropical seaweed upon rock-surfaces and trails in ankle-high drifts about the polished floors. — from “Balthazar,” by Lawrence Durrell.

Mardis Gras snuck up on me this year. Not that we do too much to indulge ourselves (anymore than usual.) It’s a school night, after all. But once, just once, I’d like to go to a real masquerade ball, in Venice or New Orleans, perhaps. DO they still exist? And why don’t we throw balls anymore? It’s time to revive a tradition. If not a full fledged ball, a dinner-dance at least?

What are the great scenes of masquerades from which we may draw our inspiration? One part “To Catch a Thief”, two parts “An American in Paris” add a dash of Mr. Capote’s Black and White Ball, shake over nights, and serve up with a twist.

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