Last Sunday I attended a rather unusual invitation, that being the Grand International Cosplay Ball. This of course being something slightly outside of my usual remit but itís the lifestyle of gamers, gaming and their associated hobbies that really interest me. Itís often inspiring to see the passion from every aspect, be it motoring or gaming, in taking it that stage further, people releasing their own creative influence. Indeed Cosplay is an interesting phenomenon, I use that word because though itís been acceptable in Japan for many years itís only in recent times that itís began to properly expand in European markets. Popular in Japan, Cosplay is huge and almost common place, the Japanese like to dress up, not as a sexual event but by a fun form of action, essentially acting out their favourite video game or anime characters, you get the chance to be someone else, completely transform while having a great deal of fun.
Moving to Europe and it was initially a cliquey affair, almost dominated by niche Anime fans itís expanded due to a more publicly acceptable approach. Very similar to video games themselves, taking a committed hardcore to expand and rightly so, itís a fun and welcoming scene, though be prepared to drop those inhibitions. This is now backed up by shows such as the MCM Expo we reported on in October with many thousands of visitors attending, demonstrating a healthy level of growth even if it is still not fully understood by many of the general public.
So onto my personal experience of the Ball, located in the decadent surroundings of the Clapham Grand night club, itís a perfect scene for this kind of event. Spread over 4 floors there are loads of places to route around or find your own space. On walking in I was instantly impressed with the quality of costumes, stunning examples that wouldn't have been out of place on a movie set. This being an awfully long way from the poorly made ill fitting examples of yesteryear. Everything was covered from period drama to Disney to anime, gaming and Hollywood. Finding my feet and it was time for a few snaps, and how handy it is for a photographer to find willing participants, everyone was friendly and approachable, as ever a very welcoming atmosphere.
The stage performances were also well selected, a varied range of musical talent and stage live action, suiting the atmosphere. Indeed it was entertaining to hear one the singers hitting the Initial D style tracks, always brings a smile to my face. The longer the evening went on the better it became, not least helped by ever consuming alcohol but on saying that it was a fun and sensible crowd though it has to be said, the drinks certainly weren't cheap. But that didn't stop everyone having a great time and indeed I took the opportunity to bust out VVV Afro Ninja. As you can see he wow'ed the crowds with his unique ninja stylee, or maybe his ninja skills made him just too invisible.
As the night wore on and my feet began to feel the strain it was time to head out into the pouring rain and make my way home but as a closing thought, the Cosplay Ball was both welcoming and entertaining and if you haven't investigated the scene its worth popping along to one of the major Expo's. I for one will be looking forward to covering future events, roll on 2010.