Happily ever after

Fairy tales come to life at Masquerage 2013

By Maha Kashani

 Photo: Masquerage attendees in 2012 enjoying the “Vixens & Villains” theme; photo: David Long, LongShots

There is an extravagant night in the city where all inhibitions are set free and everyone can be anyone – or anything – that they want to be. Fairy tales will come to life on Saturday, Oct. 19 at The Coliseum at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds for the most anticipated event of the year: Masquerage.

Dubbed Dayton’s “Party of all Parties,” Masquerage – benefitting AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio) – has undeniably earned its crown as the biggest, best and most entertaining annual fundraiser in town. Since its inception in 2002, Dayton’s spin on the masquerade ball has attracted more than 7,500 guests from around Ohio and beyond for this crazy fun night of over-the-top festivities.

Masquerade balls have been around for centuries, originally designed to celebrate a marriage or mark a point in a royal dynasty. Eventually, they evolved into public festivities in Italy at the famous Carnival of Venice. These extraordinary affairs featured music and dancing, singing and acting, stages that were grand and details in excess. Dressing in costume with a mask, as one can imagine, provided certain anonymity that was irresistible during such a conservative era. The popularity was very much about the freedom afforded by masked anonymity.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, where these appealing elements served as inspiration for President and CEO of ARC Ohio Bill Hardy, whose dwindling AIDS walkathon was weighing heavily on his organization’s bottom line. It was time for something new.

Enter Masquerage.

“We wanted to introduce an event that was exciting and ‘sexy’ to raise interest, and with a modest ticket price,” said Hardy. After much collaboration and support from Brent Johnson and the Square One Salon team, MasqueRAGE was born. Although they had the vision, no one knew how significant and influential this benefit would become. More than a decade of decadence later, 2013 marks the 12th anniversary of this one-of-a-kind signature fundraiser that has raised more than $1 million since 2002.

“This event has grown over the years,” Hardy explained. “Attendance the first year was 250. The past couple years, attendance has been around 1,000. The first Masquerage made about $12,000. The last few events have raised over $160,000 each.” That’s a lot of dough.

So, where does all that money go? “All the funds go to help support ARC Ohio’s testing, prevention, treatment and support programs,” said Hardy. “We’ve made so much progress in treating HIV. All our efforts now are focusing on getting HIV-positive individuals diagnosed and into treatment. This year we will help more than 4,000 HIV-positive individuals along their road to better health. Thousands more are reached through our testing and prevention services.”

Calling the evening “eclectic” would be an understatement. While only masks are required, most attendees don costumes to match each year’s theme, some of which are quite elaborate.

When asked what he would tell someone who has never attended Masquerage, Hardy said, “For years, Masquerage has been called ‘Dayton’s Party of Parties.’ People often remark that they can’t believe this is happening in Dayton. We bring in cutting-edge talent, play the best dance music and have guests from 21 to 81 attend. This is definitely a fun-loving, forward-thinking crowd that believes in our mission!”

As you enter the Coliseum and see everyone’s costumes and masks in all their glory, remember that you are not only going to have the time of your life while supporting a great cause, but you are keeping alive a tradition that goes back centuries and, without a doubt, will go down in history.

The 12th Annual Masquerage takes place Saturday, Oct. 19 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Coliseum at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 1043 S. Main St. General admission is $50, VIP is $200. For more information, please visit masquerage.org. 


Top 10 Reasons why you canít miss Masquerage

#10 It’s all about the theme  

This unique event features a new and exciting theme that Masqueragers take very seriously, yours truly included. Past themes have ranged from tribal to disco glam, angels and demons to Marie Antoinette. In 2013, you will experience classic fairy tales and our favorite Disney characters come to life with “Once Upon a Time.” When it comes to attire, the competition is fierce, featuring scores of original and unique costumes coupled with masks that will be spectacular. While only masks are required, many guests go all-out, beginning their costume preparations as early as July! With each year’s theme woven into every little detail, this promises to be an evening of enchantment.

#9 Cinderella raffle 

It wouldn’t be a FUNdraiser without the opportunity to win an exciting raffle prize. Try your luck and you could win either four months of house cleaning by EcoMaids or a new pair of shoes every month for four months from Integritas! The first drawn winner gets to choose which prize they would like to claim, and then a second winner will be drawn for another prize. Tickets can be purchased online or at the event. One raffle ticket for $10 or three for $20. Winner does not need to be present.

#8 Delicious eats by Scratch Catering 

It will be a long night, so though you should be sure to fuel up before arriving, save room to relish some of the delectable hors d’oeurves prepared by famous local Chef Matt Hayden. With a culinary passion and creativity that is unmatched, Chef Hayden will bring your taste buds to life with an enchanting spread of bite-sized eats and treats to keep you rockin’ all night long.

#7 An inaugural Instagram wall and photo booth 

With the widespread notoriety of retro-style photos, on-demand, this world-famous photography app allows us all the opportunity to look like a pro. This year’s interactive new feature brings a whole new meaning to sharing. Guests can snap, filter and share instantly with a special hashtag, and their photos will be showcased for all to see on the Instagram photo wall. This is guaranteed to be an entertaining hit! Plus, a traditional photo booth will be available to capture fun group shots with all your friends.

#6 The silent auction 

An elite silent auction is one of the much-anticipated highlights of Masquerage. This event secures many exclusive items and one-of-a-kind packages. This year’s lineup includes a famous Blush Boudoir photo shoot, a Jaegermeister Tap Machine, restaurant and spa packages, night on the town packages, beautiful jewelry, local artwork and more, available for you to bid on throughout the night.

#5 After-party at MJ’s Café 

Masquerage guests are invited to keep the party going all night long with free admission to MJ’s Café for the official after party. Trust me, once the heart pumping music and entertainment stops, you’ll be thirsty for more! Just show your Masquerage wristband at the door.

#4 Entertainment that sizzles 

ARC Ohio takes pride in the amazing talent and over-the-top entertainment that they secure each year. While many of the entertainment details will remain a surprise until the big night, each year you can count on one of my favorite performances – Dayton’s sensational drag queen troupe, The Rubi Girls! These fabulous women never disappoint.

#3 You don’t have to drive home: 

Take advantage of the special Masquerage package at the Dayton Grand Hotel featuring a King Suite that includes shuttle service to and from the Coliseum at the Fairgrounds, as well as a late checkout on Sunday. There are a limited number of special hotel packages available, so don’t delay. To purchase, please visit masquerage.org.

#2 Red Ribbon Lounge 

If you have the cash, the Red Ribbon Lounge is the way to enjoy your Masquerage experience to the fullest. In addition to all of the general admission features, Red Ribbon Lounge perks include free valet parking, access to the Red Ribbon Lounge, VIP bathrooms, face painting upon arrival, fortune telling, open bar, a champagne fountain, appetizers by Salar and a sweet swag bag loaded with goodies valued at over $200.

#1 It’s Dayton’s Party of All Parties! 

Masquerage is truly the most incredible party Dayton has ever seen. Whether it is the Hollywood glam, the dazzling confetti drop, complimentary Jagermeister upon arrival, heart pumping music, dramatic entertainment or fantastic people watching that piques your interest, jump on this opportunity. I promise you won’t regret taking advantage of this chance to put on a mask, let loose and have the time of your life, all while supporting a great cause.

Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at MahaKashani@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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