I’ve decided that the French take partying to a whole new level. When someone here says costume party they don’t just throw on some sheets (toga) and call it done. Nope, they go all out and rent high end customs from or in the style of the period. And, that was the case for last night at the Versailles Masquerade ball.
While the entry for the event itself is relatively inexpensive for such an event, whereas the costumes – which are rented, will set you back about $120-$150 . We went a couple weeks ago to pick out costumes (a 2-3 hour affair) and then had our friends pick them up while we were away. They came in these gigantic boxes.
Those big wire things? Those are the girls hips. They go under the dresses and stick out like airplane wings. Meanwhile, there’s an ‘unboxing’ of my costume below.
But you know what’s great about all that extra space for the hips? It’s perfect for hydration storage.
We got ready at our friend’s home ahead of time where they cooked up a meal for us – a perfect start to the evening! Which, is a good time to mention timelines. This event doesn’t start till 11PM, and doesn’t end till 7AM the next morning. Oh, and the locale? The famous Chateaux of Versailles.
Unfortunately we lacked a period-appropriate horse carriage to take us the 10 miles to the Chateaux, so instead we piled on the metro system (the RER line C).
Don’t worry though, we met others in costume on the way. After all, there aren’t really too many reasons to leave the city and go to Versailles at 10PM at night.
We arrived at the gates of the palace just as the fireworks show started. As you can see by the shimmering ground, it was a bit wet unfortunately.
As a result, the grounds were turned into one giant Muddy Buddy course – to be navigated at night in heavy and dragging costumes. The women were just thrilled.
After the fireworks show ended around 11PM, we worked our way down the steps into the palace for the actual event. Along the way I got a photo of The Girl:
As we entered through massive wooden doors we arrived in front of a small pool with a hundred floating candles and a performer up top.
As you can see, admission required a period-appropriate costume and mask. And it was cool to see thousands of people all in appropriate attire.
The ball was spread out along a massive arching stone hallway, divided into different performance areas. Throughout the night these areas would come alive with new and different acts.
Many of these acts involved less clothing than a typical beach goer might wear. So in order to keep things around here somewhat PG13, I’ve added things when required.
The main stage rotated every 30 minutes into a different act. For example, there was the topless dancer above and the random wolf (?) head costumed male dancers. And then it switched to a really impressive performance from a man with lasers. Unfortunately, my photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice – thankfully, this YouTube video from a performance elsewhere appears to be the same performer doing a similar show.
Then the stage would head back to other dancing related performances.
Some of which might just have involved a pole. I think it’s admirable that the French take all forms of culture and art seriously.
Outside of people dancing around on a stage without clothes, the majority of the evening involved people dancing around with too much clothes. Notably, everyone else.
You’ll notice the bottle of champagne in the air there. Drinks were not included in your price tag (probably why it was so low), so you had to pick those up individually from the bar. The vast majority of people were buying/drinking champagne.
In addition to the acts on stages, there were also acts that moved through the crowds. These ranged from stilt walkers to gigantic dragons.
Of course, the trick to the entire event is the fact that it goes until sunrise. This was especially tricky for us in that we had arrived to Paris that morning from the US on a redeye flight. So effectively we were double-red-eyeing. Or, said differently: We just stayed on US East Coast time. Sorta worked.
Around 5:45AM-6AM the crowds started to head outside into the orange gardens. In years past, much of the party would have been constantly moving in and out, but with the cooler weather and rain – most of it stayed inside. Though, we did head out into the gardens a few times throughout the night to get fresh air.
Since the weather was slightly better now than the night prior, most of us took an opportunity to get some final photos.
As did The Girl and I:
From there we headed on out beyond the perimeter and walked through the early morning mist back to the metro station. Interestingly, directly to the right you’ll see a bit of grass – that’s where the Versailles Triathlon is held (and directly to the left where the wall is located is the back of the orange gardens where everything above was taken).
Oh, and in case you’re wondering – I walked some 5,164 steps between midnight and 6-7AM. You know, just a typical period-appropriate costume accessory.
Finally, our friends that were there with us this year also were there last year and she put together a huge blog post of lots of photos of last year (when the weather was much nicer). Some really interesting stuff in there (including the white tiger and the large naked lady in the hot tub singing).
With that – thanks for reading!