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On the 29th November 2009, the Grand International Cosplay Ball returned to the Clapham Grand.  The venue was an old converted theatre was perfect for the event as all of the unique features made it an ideal place to hold a ball.  Prior to the event the tickets were available to buy online for 18 each.  There were also a small number of boxes available for 6 to 8 people. Just like last year there was theme to the ball, and this time it was an enchanted forest theme!

Upon arrival, it was clear that this event is like no other on the anime calendar and this was largely due to the quality of cosplay.  Attendees wore the most beautiful costumes Animetion has seen this year, with many drawing from the enchanted side of the theme and producing exquisite Princess-themed dresses.  Many others drew on the forest theme, dressing as fantasy creatures of their own design.  People also dressed as characters from popular anime as well, but everyone stuck to the dress code and kept it formal. 

Music was playing from the beginning, but not everyone hits the dance floor straightaway (or indeed all night), so the dances were interspersed with various performances.  An early performance by popular UK artists Sonia Leong and Emma Vieceli came as a pleasant surprise, since they are usually known for their artistry!  They both put in a good vocal performance with their set, it would be great to see them at future events. 
 

More vocal talent was on offer throughout the night - with Johnny Lazer returning and band Tough Love both putting in alterative and energetic performances.  As well as singing there was also a Gothic Lolita fashion catwalk and an amazing Aerial Silk performance, which wowed the audience.  There was also performance by the cosplay guests of honour - the returning Yaya Han and Giorgia Vecchini, who appeared for the first time.  There was even a burlesque strip performance, much to the delight of male attendees! 

A particular mention goes out to the unexpected Disney performance, which 

performers dressed in a variety of costumes singing tunes from films such as Beauty & The Beast, Mulan & Cinderella.  What made this particularly impressive was that the songs were in a number of different languages, including French and Italian as well as English.  The crowd loved hearing well known songs such as Be Our Guest and a rousing finale of Under The Sea.  The performance, which fitted in very well with the overall theme of the event, resulted in the entire audience singing along to these much loved songs.

In between each performance there was a wide variety of music played from rock to J-pop to all of your favourite anime theme tunes, creating a great party atmosphere.  There was also ball music played but, unlike last year, it took a smaller proportion of the evening than it had done before. 

 During the evening, you could go upstairs to the Hansel and Gretel themed area, where you could have a free photo-shoot.  There was also a number of professional photographers available, which was great on the one hand giving many an ideal opportunity to have a commemoration photo taken.  On the other hand it was intrusive as most of the photographers blocked up the front entrance part of the venue.  This made it difficult to navigate through the different levels of the old theatre.  It may have been best if there were less photographers and they were given a designated area, rather then all clumped in one area.  


On the subject of photography, the Cosplay Fever were in attendance with their own stall selling copies of their photography book.  They were not just their for that though, as they were offering cosplayers the chance to appear in the next book.  An attractive proposition for cosplayers and a welcome addition we hope to see again.  There was also a stand ran by aforementioned guest Yaya Han, which had a wide variety of items from cat ears to wings.

During the night if you became in a need of a drink, there was one of two bars available; one on the ground floor and a second on the first

floor.  There were a wide variety of spirits available to buy, but there were only a small selection of 330ml bottled beer to choose from with none available from draft and at a cost of 4 a bottle.  This was a shame as draft beer was available last year. 

Overall, I found the night very enjoyable.  It was a great night to socialise with all your friends in what is the one of last anime events of 2009.  Animetion enjoyed the music that was played all night but feel there was a need for more ball music to be played during the evening.  There were not as many slow dances for one, although the (albeit delayed) midnight waltz did at least fill the floor with many people coming together to dance with friends and strangers alike.  It is likely those dancing couples would have benefited from more ball music. 

The only real issue with the event is the cost, which was mentioned in Animetion's review of the previous Grand International Cosplay Ball.  No doubt the credit crunch will have affected you in some way, so this could be considered a costly event considering it is only one night.  Those travelling to London would have to pay for a hotel, train, tube, etc. on top of the 18 ticket.  Those living in London will have paid a lot less on the other hand, so it all depends if your attendance will incur extra costs that you feel are worth spending. 

This is not to say that the ball ticket is poor value for money.  The venue, the guests, the music and the events throughout the night makes it well worth its money. 


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