As we head towards the end of the year, Animetion attended
the last major event of 2008, the Grand International Cosplay
Ball. It was held on the 30th November in the Clapham
Grand. One of the main reasons we chose to attend this event
was the venue. Anyone who has seen their promotional material
could see how unique and nice it was. The Clapham Grand is
basically a theatre which has been converted into a nightclub.
It pretty much retains all of the features of the theatre such as
the Victorian design, the stage and the stalls. It's just that
where people used to sit down and watch shows is now used as a dance
floor. The venue, although smaller than expected, was suitable
in size for the number of people attending. As an attendee you
had the option to purchase one of two tickets. The first was a
VIP ticket, in which you were able to have exclusive access to a
Box, for either 6 or 8 people, and would be provided with a bottle
of Champagne on arrival. We however, went for the cheaper
option of the regular ticket, which was priced at £18.
The venue had two bars on the ground floor, one where you could buy standard drinks such as beer, wine and spirits and a second smaller bar, which sold Alice in Wonderland themed cocktails such as Curiouser and Curiouser (aka Sex on the Beach). All of the drinks at the venue were expensive, for example, a pint of beer would set you back £3.50 and a cocktail £6. There was also a further small bar in which sushi packs could be bought (£10 for 16 pieces), and a range of cosplay related items such as cat ears were available to buy.
Upstairs was the Alice in Wonderland themed photo area, in which people could arrange to
have their photos taken. This proved to be quite popular as within the first hour and half all of the time slots were taken up. Considering this, there was still plenty of opportunity to have your photo taken by the professional photographers walking around the ground floor.
The main question about the event was whether or not it met our
expectations, and the answer is no. This however was our own
fault, as in the past we had been to balls at conventions such as
Amecon and Auchinawa. Both of these had kept to a
similar format with music fitting to ballroom dancing and keeping it
to one theme. On the other hand, the Grand Cosplay Ball
combined three different elements of entertainment together.
The first was ballroom dancing in which you could dance with new and
old friends. The second was J-pop and rock, which played
throughout the night from numerous DJ's such as
Genkiboi. Finally, to break up the evening there was
entertainment provided from
Akemi Solloway and
Trixie Malicious. This
combination of different events may make you think that the event
was disjointed. This though was far from the case as
everything flowed well together and meant that the event far
exceeded our own expectations.
Overall, the event was a brilliant success, especially when you consider that it was the first! The only issue on the night was some technical difficulties with the sound system. This though was by far the best ball that we have attended in 2008. Also with their first event being such a success, there should be no doubt in the organisers mind on the demand for another Ball sometime next year.
The only element which needs to be addressed is the cost for people to attend. The money that we paid to go to this event (around £60 to £100 each), would have easily paid for Alcon, which is a weekend-long event. With more
anime and Japanese culture events going on every year, people will become more selective about the events that they will be attending in the up and coming year. This will be further heightened by the fact that everyone's purse is a bit tighter thanks to the credit crunch. Even if it was just a few pounds off the entry ticket or slightly cheaper food and drink at the venue, as the saying goes, every little helps.