Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Black and White Ball: Rarefied and High-End, Sure -- and Worth It

Posted By on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

img_4580.jpg

A great party, whether it's a few friends chowing on Smack Ramen and Schlitz in a dorm room or a high-ticket spectacle that takes over the center of a major city, is a work of art. It's no small thing to orchestrate the convergence of personalities, guarantee security, book the entertainment (if the scale allows it), satisfy the talent's whims, estimate and provide ample food, drink, and toilet paper -- and to conceal the OCD detail-fixation necessary to pull it all off so that it doesn't look and feel as regimented, micromanaged, and like it's from beginning to end on the verge of collapse, which it definitely is. It requires, as insensitive stereotypes would have it, Italy's sense of fun, Germany's discipline, and Russia's pessimism. It's why successful party planners are paid 1-percent-worthy fees.

Saturday's Black and White Ball, the ne plus ultra of Bay Area fancy dress fun, demonstrated this to dazzling effect.

Janelle Monae is probably the only performer who can thrust her hips to the bass beat while wearing men's clothes and a pompadour and still appear lady-like.
  • Janelle Monae is probably the only performer who can thrust her hips to the bass beat while wearing men's clothes and a pompadour and still appear lady-like.

The festivities, tickets to which started in the hundreds of dollars, occupied (ha!) the War Memorial Opera House and the stretch of Van Ness between Grove and McAllister. Depending on one's musical tastes, at any moment one had several bands to choose from playing outside or in the halls and tents erected for the event. Munching on dim sum and making pitstops at the bars stationed every four or five feet, one could drift from salsa in Herbst to a funk band in City Hall, or see Janelle Monae in the Tent Pavilion or stand outside and watch Cyndi Lauper do a somewhat less-energized performance than what we '80's babies remember her for.

These gents are dapper as all get-out.
  • These gents are dapper as all get-out.


Despite the crowds there didn't seem to be any particularly long lines for anything but City Hall's women's room. Bins for garbage, recycling, and compost were easy to find, and there were plush couches to sit on and people-watch when your feet got tired. The colored lights beaming from City Hall through the fog made Civic Center look like a Monet painting, and when clouds of white confetti were released for the midnight surprise, the lights shining off them as they spun and floated to the ground made it seem like all of San Francisco had been glitterbombed. It was cold out, but the tents were heated, and if you kept dancing, even outside you could stay cozy.

The midnight surprise itself was a moment of tear-jerking, unabashed city spirit, as motorized cable cars rolled Van Ness carrying gleeful mimes and dancers in lobster costumes, who spilled out and induced, by sheer force of cuteness and puppy-enthusiasm, even the squarest couples to dance like no one was watching (which everyone was, on giant screens, and pointing and taking pictures and uploading to the internets -- or was that just me?), as Glide Memorial's choir sang.

Niniane Kelley classed the joint up with long gloves, gorgeously braided hair, and a flapper-style dress, but to keep us on our toes her dress' lace back revealed a scandalous lack of brassiere.
  • Niniane Kelley classed the joint up with long gloves, gorgeously braided hair, and a flapper-style dress, but to keep us on our toes her dress' lace back revealed a scandalous lack of brassiere.
    IMG_4584.jpg


  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Larissa Archer

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"