The Masquerade Ball

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Issues of gender, sexuality and role-reversal were all tangled up within the confines of the ballroom.

The activity at masquerades included the touching and fondling of strangers, and propelled a highly sexual energy among guests. The donning of masks brought an inevitable sexual tension prevalent among masquerade-goers. This tension is the subject of much scrutiny. Because the masquerade focused on the disguise of identity, the face was often hidden and the body emphasized [1]. Sexuality took on a whole new freedom at the masquerade ball.

Masquerade Ball

For the English masquerade participant, modesty was redefined. One did not need to follow the usual restraints of everyday life.

Axel Rudi Pell - Masquerade Ball (Live)

Masks were particularly significant as aphrodisiacs: Since a mask provided detachment from identity, it provided a sort of detachment from traditional morality, as well. Prostitutes were common at masquerades, and contributed to the sexually charged atmosphere. Promiscuity among women at masquerades was common [3] , even if the sexual activity was not taking place at the ball, it was certainly exacerbated by the atmosphere and the aura of the masquerade.


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Women normally had to conform to very strict societal rules regarding sex and sexuality, but at masquerades, some of these rules were stripped away. For example, the masquerade was the only place, other than church, that a woman could go unattended [4]. Thus, some observers argue that the masquerade was a liberating force for women, providing them a sense of freedom they had never experienced before.

Furthermore, since women could, under her disguise, act "aggressive, domineering, and controlling" [5] , she was able to assume an identity that was definitely more traditionally "male" in nature. This maleness, some say, afforded her a certain amount of power and liberty. Women could also dress as traditionally powerful female figures such as Greek goddesses.

In the space of the masquerade, women could carve out identities that they were not supposed to live in their real lives [6]. The woman that did exercise the sexual freedom she experienced at a masquerade would, of course, have to pay stronger consequences than a man if something went wrong [7].

Dress certainly contributed to the sense of sexuality at the ball: Another famous ball was The Black and White Ball. Masquerade masks were worn delicately by the prosperous class at balls.

Axel Rudi Pell - The Masquerade Ball Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Masquerade masks had many uses including hiding one's identity,and using different colour to express one's freedom of speech and voice one's emotions and opinions without judgement. The main types of masks included masks with a stick, the head mask, the full-face mask, and the half face mask. A new resurgence of masquerade balls began in the late s in North America.

More recently, the party atmosphere is emphasized and the formal dancing usually less prominent.

The Glamorous And Gruesome History Of The Masquerade Ball

In present times, masquerade masks are used for costumes during Halloween. Masquerade masks are sold in a wide range of stores in different designs, and colors. The picturesque quality of the masquerade ball has made it a favorite topic or setting in literature. Edgar Allan Poe 's short story " The Masque of the Red Death " is based at a masquerade ball in which a central figure turns out to be his costume.

A masquerade ball is central to the plot of Mikhail Lermontov 's play Masquerade.

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The play was censored and never staged during Lermontov's lifetime, partly because of the implied criticism of the masquerade balls staged by the aristocratic Engelhardt family. The book, musical and most film adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera have a scene at a masked ball.

The video game " Dishonored " has a mission called Lady Boyle's Last Party, taking place at a masquerade where the primary objective is discerning the identity of Lady Boyle, a masked party-goer. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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For other uses, see Masked ball disambiguation. This article needs additional citations for verification.


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