Ahh the Marine Corps Ball. The highlight on the expat calendar of Chengdu.
For weeks every tailor in town has been furiously sewing to turn pixilated computer print outs of Vera Wang and…oh who am I kidding I know nothing about high fashion so lets just say FANCY DRESS MAKERS into ball gowns for the gorgeous ladies of Chengdu.
There were times in the past few weeks that I felt like I was back in the middle school lunchroom, trying to figure out which table we might fit in with, where we should sit with our buffet dinner plates. In the end, we took the easy way out and let someone else who was buying up tickets in bulk, buy our tickets for us, just to keep it all a bit of a surprise.
Finally yesterday the nail salons and hair salons were packed, the babysitters were prepped, and the expat adults of Chengdu partied.
And last night it was so lovely to see everyone all dressed up and dolled up to the nines. The marines were fantastic in their ceremony and they looked stunning in their dress uniforms. Among the ladies, there were some amazing feats of Chengdu and Shanghai tailoring at the ball (as well as less than amazing ones, of course). There were couples, freed for the evening from their offspring, getting down like it was their first date in college. I loved watching all of it, all of the happiness.
Of course on the other hand, and no offense to the Marines–they totally pulled off a fantastic event and a great ceremony–I think it is the nature of these large events no matter who throws them, that they often end up feeling a little like a distant cousin’s wedding.
You know what I’m talking about. The wedding where you don’t really know the wedding party very well. Where you sort of can figure that its going to chicken or fish on the menu and not some wild new culinary delight. Where you know there will be formal photos taken and not some fun wacky photo booth with props like at your best friend’s reception.
Where you know that, if you are really, totally, honest with yourself, that you are really going not for the ceremony, but rather to witness the sheer hilarious humanity of the reception: the happy tears, the sad tears, the drama and the drunks.
It’s not about what will happen, it’s about which character will be acting in which role for the evening’s performance.
Thankfully, (or disappointingly for the mischievous among us :)) last night did not deliver high on drama. Sure there were the minor questions surrounding seating arrangements, the disappointing aroma of overcooked broccoli in the buffet line, the unfortunate dance steps of the overly intoxicated. (as well as the incredibly fortunate dance steps of the talented, wow!! there are people here who can really dance!!) There was the DJ who seemed to think that “mixing” meant playing each song for approximately 45 seconds before using the best part of each song as a moment to transition into a number so lacking in danceability that the whole dance floor would empty instantly, as if someone had just pulled a fire alarm.
But there was also a lovely ceremony by the Marines, the first (and therefore best) cheesecake I’ve had since arriving in Chengdu, and a great night with some great people all glammed up and looking fabulous. For our first Ball, it was a lovely experience.
And now, it’s time to start brunch for our hungover friends and party revelers!
Photo Credit: Phil Benusa-Phil, this is probably one of the better photos of Chris and I that will ever have, thank you for making us look cool at least once for our future generations 🙂
Chris’ Jacket: tailor-made in 36 hours in Calcutta
My Qipao: A “secret” tailor across from the fantastic Fujinese wonton shop. Thank you AQ for sharing her with me and babysitting me through our first visit. It was quality, comfortable, and fun. (and went perfectly with Chris’ bad boy Asian-fusion look)
My hair: lots of curlers, a few french braids, and a pony-tail in front of my mirror. I’m a DIYer born out of thriftiness and laziness. 15 minutes of real work and only about 10 bobby pins, if you want instructions, let me know.
My husband: dead sexy isn’t he? I think I got lucky with this one but if I ever find another source of men as lovely as him, I’ll be sure to let you know 🙂