The Period Events & Entertainments Recreation Society (PEERS), Inc. held their annual fantasy ball on Saturday, February 8th, in the Masonic Hall of San Mateo, California. PEERS is well known locally for their imaginative and spirited themed dances set in eras from the Trojan War all the way to the future of “Star Wars.”
This year’s fantasy theme, “The Return of the King,” was the second PEERS ball set in the world of J.R.R.Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The dance, which celebrated the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s epic film trilogy, had broad appeal to fans of all sorts, who packed the hall by the hundreds. Members of the Bay Area Costumers Guild, local LOTR fans, diehard vintage dancers, and people like myself, who are a bit of all three, rubbed elbows, took pictures, and danced to the Celtic Fusion music of the Brazen Hussy.
The PEERless Music Hall players set the tone of the evening by having Faramir welcome us to Minas Tirith, where a party was underway to celebrate the dawning of the Fourth Age. At a large banquet table sat Aragorn, Arwen, Legolas, Gimli (full-sized), and Eowyn, who were later joined by Celeborn and Galadriel. The master of ceremonies was an imposing Gandalf the White, who announced the dances and encouraged everyone to get up and boogie.
Throughout the evening, the costumes seen throughout the crowd were a never-ending thrill. In addition to the flowing Medieval gowns, knights in fabric chain mail, Rennaissance faire folk, and be-winged pixies roamed costumers who recreated the characters of Middle Earth, as envisioned by film costumer Ngilla Dickson. Four or five renditions of Arwen’s coronation gown in evidence. I overheard several Eowyns discussing how they should all round up and get a photo of the many Eowyns in attendence. There were men in Strider leathers, a number of Legolae (male and female), a Theoden, at least three Faramirs in ranger hauberks, cape and hood, and a very thin young man that I thought was trying to emulate Figwit.
Although elves seem to be favorite characters to recreate, this particular ball was teeming hobbits, mostly Frodo and Sam (played by both male and female), but also Merry and Pippin, in his guardsman of Minas Tirith costume. Hobbit women such as Rosie and generic hobbit housewives and wenches were also in attendence. For myself, the finest recreations were a startlingly gaunt Elrond, a terrifying Nazgul in what seemed like five yards of black fabric, a shy Smeagol who nevertheless could dance the Schottishe, and an imposing Aragorn in his coronation costume, complete with Númenorean crown.
The thrill for me personally was seeing three of my favorite worlds to play in come together in an explosion of joy.
To have a peek at the festivities, go to Johnny Buckhanan’s Photos