Sunday, 8 June 2014

Adventure in the Ballroom

A decade or more ago, if you asked me what a ballroom was I might have jumped to the mother-friendly association of one of those play pits filled with multicoloured plastic balls.  While I was happy to sip coffee on the sidelines behind the Plexi Glas you know I would have been happier in the pit myself.  But my son got that job description.

A couple of weeks ago, if you asked me what a ballroom was my mind would have foxtrotted to the world of dance because for the past three weeks I have spent four hours a week learning one form of dance or another.  I am still getting used to men who lift and whirl me like I was a light as a bag of potato chips.

But ever since last Friday– June 6, 2014– the world ballroom conjures up one particular memorable night at Eastern Edge, namely the launch party of One Night Stand masterminded by artist and curator Coral Short. So for "ball", think epic, pink acrylic fabric balls, sewn in sections like a beach ball–five of them in fact, each large enough to stuff five or so performance ready adults.  And for room, think the central gallery space.  The "balls" didn't exactly roll although they certainly rocked.  They gyrated, stomped and shuffled to the club music, interacting with each other and increasingly with the audience.  They stole baseball caps and kisses.  Gallery viewers got consumed and spat out.  One ball attacked the snack table and wasted the jellybeans, Poki sticks and licorice.

I was simply transfixed by these ball-creation-phenomena. (When ordered to I happily herded a few into the room's centre only to be told to "get my hands off the art".) Neon pink has been gender neutral for me ever since Bret the Hit Man Hart made it official costume wear.  Still, it has preserved its drag queen drama.  Let's just say the colour and spandex-like fabric combination has star power.  At the launch party, the fabric had an undeniable sensual quality stretched over the "balls" ever moving, ever changing display of body parts.  It almost did not matter what the participants inside the ball decided to do: groove or grovel, it had visual impact.

When researching neon sculpture, I learned that distinctive shade of pink was chosen because in a neon gas tube it transmits further optically than either red or yellow.  Hands down neon pink is a grabber.  No wonder those giant pink spandex creations filled with fleshy limbs reminded me of a human version of a hypnotic lava lamp.  I quipped with Erin the sommelier that her Kir and bubbling white wine cocktails had come to life and taken over the dance floor.

There is something very pop culture about those oversized Coral Short creations.  I thought of those fleshy fabric sumo suits…bubble gum and frankly, society's cotton candy definitions of gender.
From the Walter Crane Childhood Library, "What are little boys made of?"
 Check out verses 3 & 4.

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