Masquerade Ball at Ralli Hall

Published On July 3, 2013 | By Tim Smillie | Music & Nightlife Reviews & Previews

A Saturday night in the suburbs of Hove and there instead of the usual vista of the occasional taxi, some foot traffic from the station, the lone cry of an alco-popped teen was a crowd of immaculately dressed bemasked people casually watching a man juggling fiery sticks. The incongruous nature of the scene immediately made me smile and any sliver of doubt that may have been in my head about the wisdom of this venture was swiftly dismissed. On receiving a free drink from a gorgeous woman on entry, I felt really quite at home.

There is something visceral and beguiling about being in a room of mainly masked people. Even though the atmosphere is benign and playful, there is always a sinister air solely because you are being deprived of seeing a part of people that usually gives you so much information; the face. On this night in the Ralli Hall, the ballroom was awash with secret guises and not so secret smiles.

The music buzzed around the high ceilings and scattered itself down through the darkness and straight into the dance receptors of the people below.The tunes were on the mark; soulful dance was the order of the night and they were the perfect prelude for Brighton regulars, Kalakuta Millionaires. There are eight of them and they make a beautiful big noise that pulsed through the room and activated the crowd into a new frenzy of dance spasms.

During all this activity, a whisper made its way round that there would be pole dancing in the next room and men’s strides lengthened towards the venue in question. When we arrived (yes, I was at the head of that particular queue), we encountered a man carrying a pole and once it was in position, we were treated to the delights of a tiny lithe young woman’s amazing athletic ability to propel the length of the chrome, seemingly using some sort of levitational technique.

Soon we were back at the reasonably priced bar (our bottle of Prosecco was a snip at £15; it’s over £20 in our local) and then back out on the dance floor for some more masked pirouetting.

The whole night had a magical feel, a gentle atmosphere, smiling faces and some general silliness. I admit I was sceptical at the concept but even misanthropic, cynical old me went home with a grin and some great memories.

WORDS by Tim Smillie

About The Writer

I'm a writer, a runner, a poet and all round above average entity. A self-exiled Londoner, I've lived in Brighton for 20 years and am still revelling in living by the sea.