Carouser Coverage: A Curious Invitation’s Masked Valentine’s Ball

February 17, 2015

The Dark Side Of Love

I got married this weekend. It was a romantic affair on Valentine’s Day with a few witnesses, set on top of a wrestling ring. A neon crucifix floated above our heads as we said “ I do” in the Church of Annihilation. A mere few hours later, I embarrassed my partner by pole dancing on stage. We argued about money, and then she caught me being fed by a naked woman. Safe to say we’re getting a divorce.

Luckily, the marriage wasn’t legal and we were only friends. The ceremony took place at The Dark Side Of Love: The Valentine’s Masked Ball, organised by Suzette Field’s (formerly of The Last Tuesday Society) A Curious Invitation. Her events and parties are inspired by literature and stories, luring a wide variety of people who come from far and wide through the doors of Elephant and Castle’s The Coronet.

Upon my arrival, I come across a group of girls all in uniform with poofy ‘50s-style dresses, enjoying the swing dance music on the main stage. One of them tells me that they’ve attended A Curious Invitation three times in a row because “there’s nothing like it”.

I can see why as I look around the vast, hall-full main hall of people in decorative masks, some dancing behind cages, delighted that they can writhe in the cold steel cells. Everything is so poetic and elaborately detailed, from the huge hearts that drape from the ceiling to the people frozen in Ancient Roman poses.

There are several rooms besides the main hall, hosting around 200 acts, so I don’t get to see everything that’s on offer. It’s like going to a sexy Disneyland, trying to cram all the rides in one day.

I first stumble into a room with two naked women in the centre. The lights beam on their white skA Curious Invitation Valentines Ballin as people sit around and stare at their powdery flesh. One woman is quite large, the other skinny. It’s only as I take my eyes off of the bizarre spectacle that I notice a few people drawing the scantily clad ladies from different perspectives. I begin to wish my experience of life drawing was this decadent – I used to sit in a cold shed freezing my tits off drawing some unwashed woman who was clearly modelling to buy drugs.

I move on, keen to discover what more there is to see. I quickly find myself in the grasp of a live tarantula. With whiskey on my tongue and a spider near my lips, nothing seems real anymore. The room is filled with insects and reptiles which dazes me so much that I don’t feel any danger. I stroke a snake and canoodle with a chameleon, feeling like I’m in my very own fictional story. The people working are no longer staff but characters and I am in Suzette Field’s vision.

A robed man called Liam tells me this is his first time working for A Curious Invitation and he’s enjoying it so far. “It isn’t a struggle to keep in character when so many people are having a good time.”

I ask him where the room full of promised dungeons and torture is, however, but not him nor one single person can give me directions. I fail in this pursuit, wishing for some kind of sign system or map. I can’t tell whether this is a purposeful mystery or just down to the chaos of multiple rooms. Either way, it feels like I’m being sold short of a few acts.

It all comes to a climax when I eat some smoked salmon blinis from the hands (and bum) of a painted gold cupid whilst Victorian murderpunks Thy Last Drop play sinister music. Even though I haven’t seen the movie, I know I saw way more kinkiness and a lot more nudity than the millions gathering to see 50 Shades Of Grey tonight. So I wipe the cream from my face and smile because I can’t wait to get back to reality and tell someone about it all.

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