Masked Ball – Quaint But Not For The Faint

Masked Ball Festival, Porthleven, Cornwall, 25-27th May Bank Holiday Weekend, 2018. 

“arguably one of the most debauched, friendly and energetic small festivals in Europe”

Pictures, report and interview with the event’s organisation, oh, and The Halloween Masked Ball is coming!

Now in its eleventh year, the lesser-known Cornish Masked Ball  continues to punch well above its weight. An inclusive party atmosphere permeates the entire weekend, and one can’t help but be seduced by this beautiful clifftop backdrop in the picturesque port town of Porthleven.  

Frequented predominantly by its dedicated ‘Ballers’ – a mix of locals and Cornwall’s seemingly most up for it revellers, the Masked Ball, so we’re about to learn, is arguably one of the most debauched, friendly and energetic small music festivals in Europe. Immediately clear is the monumental effort that’s gone into the site build. Entering through an impressive LED light tunnel sets the tone for one ripping weekend!

The gentle sound of the sea breeze licking off the waves below does nothing to calm the bones of the Ballers – one good look around it’s clear, from the OTT costumes and shiny faces, that these kids came here to party. There’s a perennial buzz to the Masked Ball which extends throughout the entire weekend – a tangible deviance in the air which demands to be obeyed. It seemed we were about to dive headlong in!

Eschewing the traditional route of chucking a load of big names onto a poster and hoping for the best, it’s heartening to see small, organically-grown organisations like the Masked Ball take up arms with the likes of Secret Garden Party (RIP) and Boomtown in particular. They clearly understand the deeper meanings and nuances of throwing a truly special and spectacular party – a “one-family” vibe which puts the fans first.

Sporting for the first time a coveted 24-hour license, the party didn’t stop – and revellers kept partying. Around every corner a new venue and accompanying sensory overload each more lunatic than the last. Where else does a dwarf invite you to enter a waist high tunnel leading to a camp disco hosted by a throng of scantily clad gyrating transsexuals? Well, it was a new one on us!

 There was techno from Cornish bpm-masters SIN, gorgeous grooves from Jelly Jazz and even a Prince tribute band. The costumes were outrageous, resembling a cross between a South American Mardi Gras and a children’s fancy dress disco.

In every nook was a stunning surprise, a wonderland of secret venues, themed arenas and fantastic music and performers. In the dozen or so venues, every genre of music was catered for from drum and bass, pumping house, funk  to ska.

Sunday was loose as a goose, where an infectious vibe of getting down filled the three remaining open venues with smiling faces and seemingly an influx of the town’s slightly older yet none-the-less up for it locals and festival friends.

In truth, it’s a little how you’d imagine Willy Wonka’s birthday party weekend would look. 

We caught up with Masked Ball co-owner/organiser, Kelvin Batt to catch his post-festival thoughts;

TheZineUK : “The Masked Ball seemed to us as one of the most friendly inclusive festivals we’ve ever been to! What would you say gives MB this unique environment and atmosphere?”

Kelvin : “The people that come !! The ballers are something else aren’t they?? We’re a lucky bunch- the team that creates the ball are all local to the site so there’s a big connection you know? Everyone there knows someone that works for the ball so creates this massive ‘team’ environment which is bloody amazing- although is hard keeping control of the guest list, ha!”

– “It was whispered around the site that you guys had taken the festival back to full ownership and that was causing the difference in the event – is this true?”

K – “Erm yeah, you know we were helped out so much over the last two year, both financially and helping us structure our company etc. – amazing people –  but the full ownership is back now and we were kind of hoping that the Ballers would notice – nice one! It really felt like a ball of old for us – with an atmosphere to match.”

Z – “The magnificent laser shows were a talking point this year, talk us through them; who did them, when did you decide an epic laser show was needed?”

K – “Our mate did it. What a star eh? His names Chris Webber. He worked with James and Sarah Hobson to create ‘the lookout’ , the rad shed/boozer by day and  lazer shack-old /school d’n’b pit by night. Insane! We didn’t think they would look so good, but it kinda made it, eh?”

Z – “Tell us about some of the biggest challenges when producing a festival atop a cliff. Any main sticking points?”

K – “Ha! where do you want me to start? The bigger the risk the more the reward, isn’t that the saying? It is a real ball-ache of a site for the production team, areas in little nooks and crannies spread out over a cliff top – nightmare! But from a Baller point of view, well you’ve seen it yourself, views and venues that you just don’t get anywhere else.”

Z – “Please let us in on an interesting secret about this year’s ball…”

K – “…Ha, well, perhaps some outdoor naughtiness going  at about 5am – you know everybody’s enjoying themselves when you almost trip over not one but two couples on the way to the hot tubs!”

Z – “Your infamous Halloween Ball at Flambards is next, tell us about what we can expect, is there a theme yet?”

K – “Well, firstly, Chris with the lasers is back. The theme is voodoo which is super dark so we will be making it suitably more adult than the previous events. We actually want to scare people at this Halloween. It also helps that we’ve been allowed to use the Victorian village again….”

Z – “Tell our readers why they should become Ballers.”

K – “There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else, maybe it’s the celtic thing… honestly – the people….. well, come see for yourselves!”

Tickets for the Halloween Masked Ball, which takes place on October 27th, are now on sale, with a limited run or just 500 tickets at £40 via halloweenmaskedball.net 

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