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Masquerade 101

Frozen Rose Cosplay (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frozen-Rose-Cosplay/281577251976985) as Princess Serenity and Human Luna at Anime Milwaukee 2013's Masquerade. Photo taken by Pally Kashra

Frozen Rose Cosplay (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Frozen-Rose-Cosplay/281577251976985) as Princess Serenity and Human Luna at Anime Milwaukee 2013’s Masquerade.
Photo taken by Pally Kashra

Sorry for the two week absence guys. I had some stuff come up in my life that I had to deal with. Let’s get back to talking about cons. This week, Masquerades.
 The masquerade is probably one of the most well known events that occur at a convention. It’s a showcase of many cosplayers’ talents through craftsmanship and through performing. Whether people are going on stage to show off the costume that they spent countless hours on, or showing off a skit, the possibilities are endless.

As I write this, I have been part of 5 masquerades, and I always learn something from being a part of them. I’ve only actually won 1, and it was for a skit that I did with a Naked Snake cosplay. Even though I didn’t win the other 4 times, I still had a blast being in the masquerades and learned something each time I was a part of it.

So, as someone who’s been in Masquerades before, I’d like to take some time and share some tips with you guys this week.

  • If you know you want to be part of the masquerade, sign up in advance. Most of the time spots for the masquerade fill up quickly (especially for larger cons). Plus, you’ll have a lot of time to plan your costume that you’d like to show off.
  • If you want to do a skit AND be judged for craftsmanship, most of the time you are allowed to do both.
  • Try to have your costume done a week before the actual convention. This way, if something happens, you have a few days to touch it up and fix what needs to be fixed.
  • If you’re doing a skit, make sure that your audio is working well ahead of time. Don’t procrastinate.
  • Be prepared to spend the entire day of the masquerade doing masquerade stuff. You’ll have to be judged, be in the green room and take part in the actual masquerade, so your only free time will be afterwards.
  • Be early to your call times.
  • If you’re doing a craftsmanship, have a reference sheet ready to go. Colored with a few angles of your costume. Also, be sure that you explain the parts of your costume and how you made them.
  • Don’t be afraid to brag about your costume. You’re selling yourself and your costume. Tell them about the parts you like the most.
  • If you didn’t make your costume, don’t like and say that you did. It makes the person that made the costume mad. Give credit where credit is due.
  • Bring an emergency sewing kit in case a part of your costume decides to fail (this has happened to me before. My Crono belt broke luckily after the masquerade was over.)
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to the other people in the masquerade. They’re probably nervous too. It’ll help soothe your nerves and it might even lead to new friendships.
  • Part of the fun of doing a walk-on is posing. You get to make at least two poses when you go on stage. Before you go on, practice some poses and get comfortable doing them. Then when you’re out on stage, hold them for as many seconds as they tell you to. You’ll be surprised to see how many great photos (and videos) get made from just poses alone.
  • Don’t take up too much time on stage. Do your stuff and then exit the stage. Trust me, this could have a negative effect on your final score and might even end up getting you banned from next year’s masquerade.
  • In the even of a costume malfunction on stage, don’t bring attention to. Adjust and go on. These things may happen, but don’t let it ruin your entire time on stage. Keep Calm and Masquerade On! (yes, I went there.)
  • Don’t be surprised if the hosts make playful jokes about your character. This isn’t to make fun of you or anything like that, and its just in good fun. If you feel really brave, you can always make a gesture back toward them (or even to the audience). For example, one year I was Crono, and my weapon was a mop (It’s a joke weapon from the game). One of the hosts said “This must be Crono’s day job.” My response was to go over and mop the host’s feet. It caught them off guard but got a good laugh out of the audience. Just make sure they’re  ok with any interaction before actually doing anything to them. (Most of the time you wont even be able to get toward them). Also, keep it clean. This is a family show.
  • If you don’t want your craftsmanship to be judged, you don’t have to. Some masquerades offer the opportunity to just walk on as an exhibition. It’s good if you just want to get some experience walking on stage.
  • Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Now a lot of this stuff applies to before and during the masquerade. There are some things that you can do afterwards. Pay attention because some of these are important.

  • No matter what happens, win or lose, be a good sport. Don’t rub it into the other person’s face if you won. If you lose, don’t go bashing them and tell them how much you think they shouldn’t have won.
  • In HS we had a term called “Save it For the Bus.” Basically, if you have a problem with someone, save it for closed doors…or just don’t say it all. I think the same rule would apply here (though the bus could be the hotel room). This includes staying things online. It’s really counterproductive, and it just makes you look bad.
  • If there is a legitimate thing you didn’t like about how they ran the masquerade, let them know that in the feedback session. This will help improve next year’s masquerade.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on how you can improve on your own skills. Chances are you’ll learn that you looked over something simple. Also, it’s a great way to learn new tips for any future costume that you end up creating.

Finally, to those who are watching the masquerade:

  • Be a good audience member. Don’t make loud obscene comments during the entire masquerade (unless its encouraged). This includes toward the MCs, the cosplayers on stage or during the skits. It takes a lot of guts for these performers to get up on stage, so be encouraging to them and don’t tear them down.
  • If you don’t agree with the results don’t go bashing the people who won or saying “this person should have won.” That’s not going to help things out.
  • I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but I might as well, DONT RUN UP ON THE STAGE UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION.

Masquerades are meant to be fun, so try not to turn them into a scary thing or a drama fest. Try to enjoy the experience whether your part of the audience, doing a walk-on or performing a skit. Be an encouragement, not a hindrance, and enjoy the experience all together.

Before I conclude, I would like to draw your attention to this post by Vicious Cosplay. It goes more into depth about masquerade and gives some other tips. Check it out here

I would like to thank the following people for their help on this article:

Antigone of Mama Tig Cosplays

Christine of Vicious Cosplay

 

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