Posted by Amaranth
Danse Macabre Vampire Ball
Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Ghent is a true jewel. I tend more towards natural beauty than cities when defining my ideal holiday locations, but this city really does now stand among one of my favourites for that “city break” type vacation. Indeed where I was never keen on Paris and my heart didn’t sing for Venice – Ghent and I got along fabulously. Perhaps it’s because it’s slightly less well known that it manages to keep some of its charm, this medieval canal city with its cobbled streets remains beautifully quaint. The wonderful buildings range from gothic, to rococo and strewn with wonderful art nouveau and art deco touches between, it was a delight round every corner. With over 900 listed buildings, every street is lined with history. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe which can certainly be felt in the stone of Gravensteen Castle. The three spires of Belfort en Lakenhalle, Saint Nicholas and Sint-Baafsplein make for a beautiful view when standing on the St Michael’s Bridge. We ventured inside Sint-Baafsplein and I was quite transfixed by the splendour of the rococo pulpit carved out in wood and stone by Laurent Delvaux in 1745. The Garden of Eden scene surrounded by cherubs, angels and complete with gold dragon-like snake was quite breathtaking. I sat for much longer than I may in any church – just drinking it all in.
Being the only place in Belgium I have as yet visited, I can’t make comparisons there, but it has certainly left me wanting to explore the country more. The local delicacies of chocolate and waffles certainly helped! Although the million varieties of beer usually left little space on the menu for wine, so I often found myself resorting to an unidentified house red. We decided to dine in the Pakhuis, which is a vast, beautifully restored 19th-century warehouse down a narrow lane, complete with painted cast-iron pillars, green pipes and tubing, ceiling fans, track lighting, soaring wrought-iron balconies, and oak and marble tables with specially designed table settings. The granite mosaic floor is a perfect mirror to the beautiful glass roof. There were even hints of Steampunk in the large curved oak and brass bar.
Knowing this weekend would be one we where we were immersed in beauty, we decided no chain hotel would do (indeed we try opt for boutique and privately owned hotels wherever possible) and in Charme Hotel Hancelot we were far from disappointed. This Town House dating back to 1840 was home to a Baron and Baroness in its day and has been lovingly renovated with all the mod-cons along with the old world glamour. From the welcome drink and piped classical music to the great breakfasts in the stunning art nouveau dining room transported you back into a time when things were ever so slightly more romantically decadent. The canopied bed, chandelier and jacuzzi in our room helped somewhat towards this too. I can’t recommend this hotel enough – both for its beauty and for the helpfulness of the staff.
And then on to the reason for this delightful sojourn – the Danse Macbre Vampire Ball hosted by the ever-enchanting Viona. Although this was her first Ball in Ghent and at this venue – she has run similar events before. Gala Nocturna in the winter and Sarabande in the summer have both being going for a few years now. Sadly my schedule has never allowed me to attend, but with fortune I managed to pry a weekend free for Danse Macbre, and with a Vampire theme it was a chance to indulge in my darker side which lately has been quite fanciful and light.
My outfit consisted of:
Illamasqua makeup including Rich foundation 105 & Silver Diamante EyeLashes
Victorian Shade hat from Veil of Visions
The Last Caress Necklace from Alchemy
Lace Trimmed Posture Collar from Prong
Buckle corset from Deadly Girlz
PVC Bustle skirt & shrug with white bustle trails made by my mother
Much hair backcombing!
While many events claim to be “balls” most often it is just another night at a club and never worth of the description – Viona’s events stay true to the word. Both in terms of the effort the attendees put into their outfits and the locations she chooses and atmosphere she weaves. Vampires of all elegantly turned out shapes and sizes descended upon Sint-Autbertus church which is part of a converted monastery. Maxed to capacity of 250, it was standing room only for much of it – which played agony on my patent pointy stiletto heeled feet. Even more so when DJ XLII opened the dance floor which lured me like a moth to a flame to weave my passion to the likes of Qntal and Faith and the Muse.
Not only were the other guests a spectacle to behold, but along with a DJ creating musical artistry, a couple of V-Js painted the walls with lights. Statues took to flight and colour rained down amidst faces appearing and disappearing. The walls literally came alive. Red uplighting also worked its magic to create an eerie atmosphere. Entertainment came in the form of a fashion exhibition from our very own Rachel Forbes’ Imaginarium Apparel with it’s amphibian and insect inspired costumes, stunning corsetry from BizarreDesign, custom fangs being made by Father Sebastiaan and a book signing by the amazing artist Victoria Frances (although signing is a misnomer as anyone lucky enough to have her put pen to paper will come away with a personal work of art). Small performances took place throughout the early part of the night, culminating in a vampire feast of nubile virgins. All these elements melded together to create a whole that only experience can fully describe.
Viona’s events are a feast for all the senses and perhaps the only element missing was live music, but with the wash of colour exploding in every other area it wasn’t too obviously lacking. These are gatherings for the beautiful and the talented, the creatures of the night that know there is more to life and wish to decorate it accordingly. As close as you can get to a fairytale outside of your own mind and hand in hand with others who feel the same. When so much beauty gathers, it can be quite overwhelming, but it can also remind you of what can be achieved and all we must do it find the paints that match our dreams.
Event images by Morbidfrog