There's a world that exists somewhere between childhood and maturity where grown ups dress up as cartoonish characters. These characters might be from video games, from science fiction movies, or from comic books, and the costumes may be store-bought or homemade and elaborately customized. This is the world of cosplay (an amalgam of the words “costume” and “play”). An interesting subculture of nerdom, cosplayers can often be seen en masse at comic book conventions, modern costume balls, LARP (live-action role-playing) events, or at club events like those held by Club Cosplay. On Friday, Club Cosplay held its second annual nightclub event, an event at which cosplayers celebrate their nerdiness by dancing, drinking, and gazing upon some pretty impressive garbs.
The event, held at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, featured a costume contest, a performance by the Oingo Boingo tribute band, Dead Man's Party, and special cosplay guests. As the event got started, at six o'clock, guests began wandering in. Some of them seemingly never made it past the outside staircase, which was a smoking haven throughout the evening. Those who did make it up the steps were greeted by a bar, a back porch DJ, and vendors. VIPs [$25 bucks a pop] could then enter the upstairs area (which featured a bar and seating with an aerial view of the stage), and the regular admission folks [$15 bucks] could climb right back down the indoor set of stairs to the dance floor, stage, and its two adjacent bars.
The principal stage entertainment for the first hour and a half or so was a VJ Dave, a DJ who had also spun videos. Some of the videos seemed custom made, such as a loop of Wednesday Addams showing Lurch how to dance (a re-edit of this clip), while some were straight up music videos, such as that of “Love Shack” by The B-52's. The next phase of entertainment consisted of a series of sexy girls dancing on the stage — not costumed, mind you, except for their sexy dance wear. Master of Ceremonies Bernie Bregman and hostess Leeanna Vamp then welcomed the guests and instilled in them the mantra of “No means no,” and generally chided any would be mashers that just because someone dresses like a sexy character, that doesn't mean that it is open season on them.
From that point on, the music of the DJs was accompanied by short presentations by crews like the Southland Ghostbusters, Jason Ybarra's TMNT Crew, and more of those sexy dancers. As the evening progressed, guests flooded in, and by the time Dead Man's Party took the stage, there were so many people, proton packs, and prop weapons that it was difficult to move throughout the fairly intimate venue.
One of the most interesting things about events like this is the dynamics of attendees. While the core constituents are merely hobbyists and people who love to play dress-up, there are also professional models and career characters, like the hostess who sells photos of herself on her website. Furthermore, it is interesting to consider the boundary between childish attitudes towards make believe activities and adult attitudes regarding fetishism. While many of the costumes were impressive and charming in a non-sexual way (among these were a few elaborate Boba Fetts, some Batmans, and a Lucille Ball), some of the costumes showcased skin and oozed sexuality. Compounding the taboo yet trumpeted lascivious overtones were the stage dancers, whose dance moves were frequently a bit more than mildly suggestive. Given the fact that sex sells, and this is essentially a marketable event, it makes sense that the organizers would not shy away from celebrating the sexyness inherent in this subculture as well as championing slogans like “No means no” and having “Nerd Safe Zone” prominently displayed on their website. After all, it doesn't make much sense to tell people “No” when they are not first teased with something they are not allowed to have.
All in all, there was plenty of eye candy at this club event — for both innocent and devious eyes; many of the costumes were very impressive, and the creativity factor ultimately triumphed over the skin showcase factor. Music and booze are a given at any club event, but the band choice and the sets of the DJs were agreeable. That being said, there were enough people in attendance to either merit more frequent club events of this type and / or a bigger venue for Club Cosplay's next shindig.