Sunday, February 27, 2011

Playhouse Square: Jump Back Ball 20 Passport To Party (#JBB20)

After tonight and in conjunction with other arts parties I've attended over the past year, I've come to one inescapable conclusion: Cleveland Arts people know how to throw a party.

It seems like for as long as I've lived in Cleveland, I've heard of Jump Back Ball either after the event or after it had sold out, and in any event the thought of renting a tux for the occasion just didn't appeal to me.

I purchased a tuxedo for my trip to the Tony Awards (that trip was courtesy of PlayhouseSquare) this past year, eliminating that excuse, and following PlayhouseSquare on Twitter helped avoid the hindsight issues by purchasing my ticket at the public on sale.

And tonight was the night. I arrived to the VIP Pre-party and was generally underwhelmed, but that feeling lasted only until the State Theater opened for the main event; it took a bit of time for the momentum to build but like a freight train once it got started it was still rumbling along at a decent clip when I excused myself for the evening. I'm not sure that the VIP portion was worth it, but the main event is certainly worth repeating.

"Never mix your alcohol" -- A wise friend.

If you've read my blog with any regularity you know I'm in the midst of the perfect storm of travel -- I spent most of the past two weeks on the road, and tomorrow (ahem, this) afternoon I head out again, this time to Minneapolis and Ann Arbor -- and having started the evening with a bit of a headache I was in a particularly conservative mood. Wise idea or not, that didn't keep me from taking a share of the the amazing volume of free adult beverages that were flowing through bars located in the lobby and stage of the State Theater Stage. I will probably regret it, but I think I wound up sampling a little bit of everything, from my regular vodka and Coke to wine to something I'm not entirely sure about. I certainly haven't drunk this much in at least four years.

The buffets featured a huge variety of food fitting into the global theme of the party; I don't trust buffets*, instead partaking in the the pretzels offered -- much less exotic, but still, I think it was one of the better pretzels I've had recently.

In the lobby an impressive array of raffles were offered, one particularly caught my eye: Not so much for the airfare or the tickets to Indians Spring Training but for the included In-N-Out Gift Certificate. It took everything I had to not buy a ticket for that. In the theater proper, everything from fortune telling to face painting to casino gambling was taking place. Redcoats were working the cash in/out tables for the "Casino" and I recognized an usher who is always a riot to talk to.

Then the State Theater stage opened for dancing and the vast stage -- being on it alone is somewhat overwhelming -- was quickly filled shoulder to shoulder. Lingering on the stage I met a Partner who was quite enthusiastic about the ball, and quite good about making introductions and touring the venue. His last words of advice: "Ask for everything."

And then back to the lobby for more music and dancing, and finally back home so I can pack for my flight.

Hopefully next year I won't have to be anywhere the next day.

*- It's a personal rule after a few nasty buffet runins... the same reason why as much as I'd like to have dinner before Cleveland Orchestra concerts at Severance Hall I've never eaten at the Severance restaurant, and likely never will barring a change to a non-buffet format..

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