Midwest Witches' Ball 2010
Article ID: 14291
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,619
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Author: Paula & Gordon Ireland [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: November 14th. 2010
Times Viewed: 3,169
Sponsored by: Michigan Witches Ball
Location: Detroit Michigan
Event Date(s): 10/16/2010
The Midwest Witches’ Ball 2010 Review by R. Wolf Baldassarro
The Midwest Witches’ Ball, formerly known as the Michigan Witches’ Ball, is far more than just the biggest party of the year for Pagans throughout the Detroit area. I have been fortunate to attend this annual gala since 2005 and it is has become the most anticipated occasion of my social calendar every year since. As soon as it’s over plans are set in motion for the next one and I am not alone in the excitement, as any frequent attendee will tell you.
It has been over a decade since a small group banded together to put on the first ball and the union of two sister covens in 1995 allowed the Witches’ Ball to evolve into the must-attend happening of the year in Metro Detroit. Tickets are so sought after that the event is sold out months in advance, with a flurry of activity in the final weeks and days before with people desperately trying to secure even a single admission. Often those with last-minute conflicts will list their tickets for sale only to have them gone within minutes by eager takers.
The Ball is billed as “dress to impress” so most folks don the finest in tuxedos and shiny shoes, evening gowns, sparkling jewels, and professional hairdos. Organizers make it clear that this isn’t a clichéd Halloween costume party. You won’t find characters from the latest Hollywood blockbusters or clowns here, but all who attend are courteous and tolerant of those who show up in casual cloths. These “Ball Virgins”, as they are teasingly referred to, get a taste of what to expect, and what is expected of them should they chose to return again. I was a ball virgin myself once and arrived in jeans and a flannel shirt, but was accepted with open arms. Still, even though this is a black-tie engagement each year has a unique and fun theme such as 2009’s “Pagan Vegas”. Attendees arrive in theme-appropriate outfits such as the 2009 Witches Ball Queen, who dressed up as Cher. The 2010 theme was “Black Hats and Pointy Hats”. Colorful witches’ hats served as the centerpiece at each table and many outfits consisted of flowing black cloaks or capes.
A big part of the success of the ball comes from the support of local sponsors. Locally run businesses, charitable organizations, and individuals give a little extra to help cover the costs of promoting and hosting the gala. In exchange they have the honor of being listed on a large banner as a sponsor and their cause or business is advertised on many websites, blogs, and newsgroups for an entire year. This marketing strategy coincides with a growing mindset in recent years to a return of local communities and businesses supporting each other in a symbiotic and personal relationship. This outlook is at the heart of the Midwest Witches’ Ball of a community coming together as one to help and support one another.
The reasons for the popularity of the event are as varied as its attendees. While some attend to promote their businesses; many come to see friends who otherwise live so far apart that they can only get together once a year at the ball; and, yes, others just come for a good time. And the price is just right. Each $30 ticket entitles you to an open buffet and open bar. In addition, many of the sponsors donate a variety of door prizes. Each admission ticket provides its lucky holder with one raffle entry.
This is a 21 and over event. No kids allowed- so a night of socializing and fun is a welcome distraction from the muggle-borne issues of jobs and the daily grind. A chance for the grown-ups to be kids again.
Rebekah and Ryan Fitts have been recurring party-goers for years. “We attend the ball because it is an opportunity for us to spend adult time with friends that we don’t see that often, ” Rebekah explains. “It also gives us a night where we can be ourselves and meet new friends with common interests.” Ryan, who was crowned King of the 2010 Midwest Witches’ Ball, adds, “I attend the ball because it gives me the chance to see and talk to folks that I’d normally only communicate with via computer. That, and I try never to turn down a good party.”
The Midwest Witches’ Ball isn’t just an excuse for wonton decadence or for flashing your business cards and wares. There is a much larger, and much more important aspect.
Throughout the year, both leading up to, and after the annual black-tie event, those involved with the Midwest Witches’ Ball encourage active participation in community outreach programs including various education and charity causes. One of the core objectives of The Michigan Witches’ Ball is to promote a social event that brings all paths together for a night of merriment in which like-minded folk can network, catch up with friends, and share as a community. With so many traditions and worshipping styles the chance to overcome differences leaves a living legacy for the next generation. Along with the fun, the event’s committee and its attendees are dedicated to promoting the tolerance and understanding of the various theologies and philosophies that exist under the vast umbrella of so-called “alternative” and neo-pagan religions all while having as much fun as the night will provide.
I was fortunate to be part of a ritual circle to bless this year’s ball just before the doors opened to the eager line outside. This is the Midwest Witches’ Ball, after all, so spirituality does play a major role. The event is always held in the middle of October, not to be stereotypical amid the season of ghosts, goblins, and trick or treat, but because Halloween, or Samhain, to many Pagan religions, is the most important holiday of the year in many traditions and the birth of the New Year. The religious overtones have been lessened in recent years. “I’m not all that spiritual, but events like the ball are great chances to meet with a diverse group of people that I might not normally encounter in daily life, ” says Ryan. “Although some of the debates that go on at some of the tables are spiritual, ” Rebekah explains, “I don’t think a person should be going to the ball if the only thing they want to get out of it is a spiritual event. I think that this almost acts as a meet and greet for adults of the pagan community in our area”.
So it comes as a given by most who come to the ball that there is a religious understanding to the proceedings but that might not be so obvious to others in attendance, or even the majority of people outside the door who still carry age-old misconceptions and prejudices about Pagan beliefs.
Some people who attend bring friends and loved ones as guests who are not a follower of a Pagan path. Often in this multi-cultural modern world even couples don’t necessarily have the same political views, let alone practice the same form of Spirituality. As part of this year I attended the 2010 Ball as a sponsor along with some members of my paranormal research group. Investigator Racheal Guinn is not Pagan but she was very curious as to what to expect. She had questions and watched intently as I participated in the opening ritual circle. “I wish I had more understanding of the religious aspects of the circle” Racheal remarked. “I knew this wasn’t a Halloween party, but more of a Pagan gathering, so it would have been interesting and helped me gain knowledge about those aspects of Pagan life to see it in action.”
After a night of endless food and social lubrication comes another big part of The Midwest Witches’ Ball- the hotel after-parties. A local Holiday Inn served in the past as the official hotel and provided guests with a promotional code for discounted rooms and included free shuttle rides to and from the hall and hotel all night long. The ball has swelled to well over 300 people a year and beginning next year will move to a larger hall and attached hotel, The Met in Troy, Michigan. As in previous years, the main event is the ball, but along with the larger accommodations, the 2011 Midwest Witches’ Ball will be an all-day affair at The Met with vendors and other attractions during the day. The larger room will also allow for an attendance of over 500. Tickets go on sale at Convocation, which incidentally, takes over The Met for 3 days every February. As with prior years, tickets are expected to go very quickly. The 2011 Midwest Witches’ Ball will be celebrating its 15th year.
For more information on the 2011 Midwest Witches’ Ball, as well as the history and photo galleries of previous events, visit www.midwestwitchesball.com. The theme for next year’s ball is an Alice in Wonderland-inspired “Through the Looking Glass”.
Copyright: R. Wolf Baldassarro
Paula & Gordon Ireland
Location: Utica, Michigan
Author's Profile: To learn more about Paula & Gordon Ireland - Click HERE
Bio: When not busy pursuing the mysteries of the afterlife as an active paranormal investigator, R. Wolf Baldassarro writes novels, poetry, and blogs on various subjects. He writes a monthly column for Pagan Pages magazine, titled Across the Great Divide, in which he explores the world of paranormal research. He has been a guest on radio, television, and internet broadcasts and his literary accomplishments include having been twice featured in the Mused Literary Review, published 5 books, and recently created a gallery of his photographic talents; He was the special advisor on the Konxari card project by the IRM Foundation and wrote the introduction to professional photographer Paul Michael Kane’s Final Destinations portfolio which was released in September 2010.
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