Volume 96, Issue 70
Tuesday, February 4, 2003

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Charity Ball - its own magical world

Take it down a notch
Shannon Proudfoot
Garphics Editor

It occurred to me on Saturday night (actually, it occurred to me on Sunday morning, after the haze of wine cleared from my brain) that Charity Ball is a lot like Disney World.

Powerful and lucrative corporations run both attractions. Disney has enough money to buy and sell God himself, but it bears some resemblance to the slightly less rich University Students' Council. Both can be sources of great showmanship and comedy, and produce amusing cartoon characters.

Charity Ball and Disney World are populated by people wearing unusual costumes – some voluntarily and some against their will.

There are those at Charity Ball who love dressing as though they live in a fairy tale for a night, and there are those who wouldn't wear an uncomfortable dress or tux if not for their dates' insistence.

Similarly, at Disney World, you have enthusiastic white tennis sock and visor-wearing tourists, as well Disney workers forced to prance around in Winnie the Pooh costumes, while pursued by children and stoned college students.

Charity Ball and Disney World both feature multiple sources of amusement.

At Charity Ball, you can try your luck at the black jack, dance, enjoy alcohol-fuelled socializing or watch the couple at the next table try to have sex without anyone noticing.

Disney World offers numerous rides and attractions, parades and performances – generally without the alcohol. Clearly, Charity Ball comes out on top in this category.

Charity Ball and Disney World are also both incredibly expensive ventures that may or may not be worth it at the end of the day.

Drink prices at Charity Ball seemed less outlandish this year than last, but $3.40 slices of pizza and $35 tickets still make for a pricey evening. Clearly, "charity" means helping others, but I'm fairly sure that, at this point in the year, I actually qualify as a charitable organization myself.

Disney World is skilled at hawking $5 ice cream bars shaped like Mickey's pancreas and too-precious-to-pass up memories of your Disney experience. In 1991, my parents paid $25 for a video of my sister and I "acting" in a 1940s-style movie with an actor who, in retrospect, most likely loathed his Disney life, as well as my entire family.

In the end, the greatest similarity between Charity Ball and Disney World is that there is only one, and either you were there or you weren't.

Say what you will about Six Flags or Michigan's (crappy, white-trash) Adventure, Disney World is still the ultimate theme park. In elementary school, the envy directed towards those lucky kids who came back from March break with a sunburn and super-cool Mickey Mouse bike shorts was warranted. They had been to Disney World – they were the chosen ones!

There are many justified financial, political or social reasons that Western students may opt to not go to Charity Ball, but the fact remains that, when Monday comes, either you can say you got dressed up and blew $200 on Saturday night, or you can't.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that Charity Ball is necessary to a complete university experience. All I know is, when I'm dressed to the nines, whirling around a dance floor in an elaborately decorated ballroom, surrounded by my notoriously and impossibly beautiful fellow students, I know I go to Western and I'm proud of it.

Maybe Charity Ball is the happiest place on Earth.

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