Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.


The Party from “To Catch a Thief” by Hitchcock.
(Image from DVDBeaver.com)
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.

8 thoughts on “Carni-vale

  1. We used to do the whole “pancake” night thing. This year, I am going to take my life in my hands and go shopping at the local Asian market (New Year’s is on the 7th).

  2. A crucial book that will provide inspiration for any bal costume … “Legendary Parties: 1922-1972” by Prince Jean-Louis Faucigny-Lucinge (Vendome Press) … in it are many such masked events held throughout the 20th century, including the fantastic Surrealist ball thrown by Marie-Hélène and Guy de Rothschild in 1972, wherein Audrey Hepburn encased her lovely head with a golden bird cage but left the door open so she could eat from a mink-covered plate … the other costumes were infinitely more bizarre and astounding … also included the fantastic Beistegui ball of the 1950s … and many, many more …

  3. Back in architecture school, my class threw a beaux-arts costume ball in our grand hall of our college of fine arts. Alas I didn’t go because of my competitive streak: I coudln’t come up with a clever costume! I SOO regret it to this day!

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