Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Purple Ball

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I haven't painted nor drawn anything in ages, and have been running from one project to another. So there are a lotta things to get caught up on. (If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably noticed that's a fairly consistent state of affairs for me ... except I normally get a lot more art done).

Last weekend, the Asheville Area Arts Council had its Purple Ball. This is an annual event. Every year they change the color, but it's a big social to-do in this town. I'd never gone to it, though. While I was in the Navy, I went to tons of Balls. Every year, there was the Navy Day Ball, the Marine Corps Ball, the Army Ball, and the Air Force Ball, plus any other civilian events that popped up. I did a lot of dressing up in fancy uniforms, polishing my shoes, and buying new gowns for the wife. Since leaving the service, I've never been the least bit interested in doing it again. But now that I'm on the board of the Council, it was made pretty clear that I was expected to at least show my face at one of the pre-Ball parties. It was called the Patron Party. I was under the impression that it would be a schmooze-fest with key donors to the Arts Council, and that it would be a stuffy affair that I could escape from fairly quickly.

Oh, how wrong I was.

When a 6-foot guy with big, broad shoulders comes walking in wearing a purple off-the-shoulders gown with purple bustier, big falsies, 6" stilleto heels, a huge platinum-blonde wig, expertly applied makeup, and still sporting his goatee and chest hair, you know this ain't the Navy Day Ball. The guy behind him looked like an Evil Purple Fu Manchu from the Captain Marvel comic book, sporting a sequined jock strap over his purple leotards. Women wore, well, anything, everything, and nearly nothing. Some were stunningly beautiful in elegant gowns. One young lady decided that the only thing she had that was purple was her underwear, so she sewed some embellishments on the front and back and just wore that. (She really should've worn something a bit more modest. Trust me.)

Inside the nightclub, the party was jammed, noisy, and hopping. The Terpsicorps dance troupe performed some of their numbers from their upcoming show. A batch of Asheville city cops in uniform roamed the crowds. In my younger days, this would've been a sign of trouble. But the crowd took it as a good sign and the police seemed to enjoy it as much as anybody else. I helped work the front door for a long while, checking wristbands for admittance, mostly because that's where I could people-watch the best. And the people-watching here was the best I've seen in a long, long time.

Forget the military balls. I'm going to the Arts Council balls!

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