Kontrabida Ball 2: A Chill Party Is A Good Party

Attendees of Kontrabida Ball 2: Happily Never After found the event against the backdrop of what appears to be a cocktail party. Only instead of people in dresses and suits and ties, everyone jumped straight out of everything popular media and got together for drinks. And unlike that series with Everyone’s Favorite Ogre, and Video Game: The Animated Adaptation, the experience came with an open bar and a buffet. Also, everything was red.

Kontrabida Ball 2: I Don’t Usually Party

When #ItanongMoKayJudith urged me to attend #konball2018, I told her it’d be a new experience. I’ve never been to an “adult” “party” outside gatherings I’ve had with high school friends, and lately, with colleagues I’ve met through tabletop and geek interest groups. And to be fair, these “parties” got to be more “gatherings with drinks” than anything with tugs tugs. So the sixth floor of One Cafe and Events Place stunned me with an abundance of balloons, with everything else draped with black and purple decor.

I turned left to the hallway of black and purple and pink, where everyone got themselves in suits and ties and dresses. People turned their attention to face me, the one guy wearing the New Mutants-inspired jacket. One guy approached me, pointed to the darkness of the opposite direction. It was an empty hallway.

“Doon po ang Kontrabida Ball.”

Have I mentioned I’ve never been to parties?

I Don’t Usually Party, Part 2

When Patricia Descallar invited us to attend “an event she’s organizing,” Judith explained what the concept was. Apparently, you have to be a kontrabida to attend Kontrabida Ball. It didn’t make sense back then when Trisha had given the invite, as I had a couple of shots.

“So what do you wear if you don’t have a costume?” I mused. It might be laundry day for the Evil Stepmother.

“Smart casual would do,” Trisha answered, obviously having had to accommodate villainous dress troubles before.

That spelled trouble for me – I didn’t have anything that screamed “Kontrabida.” However, I didn’t want to “just” wear smart casual to an event with “Kontrabida” in it, either. In the end, I just whipped out “casual cosplay,” which translates to “the X-Men jacket over anything.” I can just say I’m a “Scott Summers Apologist.” That might work. As a “new guy,” I figured no one would talk to me. Clearly, I was wrong.

A guy cosplaying Logan had fake claws against my jacket to see the trademark X-icon. Whether his torn shirt signified he’s Logan-in-need-of-a-shirt or he’s Logan-about-to-die-in-the-film, I had no idea.

“You’re X-Men? Who are you going as?”

“Oh, uh, no one,” I answered, stammering. I had to repeat this to another person, this time a photographer, who asked if I was going for Nicholas Hoult’s makeup-less Hank McCoy look. I told him I didn’t have a “costume,” just a jacket.

Contrary to “party tradition,” I wasn’t “picked up.” I didn’t “pick up” anyone, either. I didn’t have to, I didn’t want to, I didn’t need to. To find yourself approached when normally others don’t can be both a welcoming and frightening idea. My jacket wasn’t even “good” by cosplay standards.

And yet, somehow, people found it good enough to start a conversation.

Geek Parties Are… Different

I’ve never considered myself a hardcore fan of anything. I never considered myself a “huge” part of any community, either. I grew up isolated on a lot of fronts, finding solace in my exposure to the internet, a lot of books, and a lot of online games. As such, I find it quite new to be invited to parties by new friends I’ve met. More importantly, I find myself quite stunned at how geek parties are. Especially one like Kontrabida Ball 2, which touts itself as an actual and formal event with a party format.

You’d think an event with a party concept may not fly given how parties shouldn’t have “formats” anyway. Interestingly, Kontrabida Ball 2 uses this to their advantage. Why force people to follow a format to “have fun,” when you can do the format “while” having fun? As such, while the program does seem to look like that of a usual party, #konball adds a twist by guiding people into the fun aspects of the party.

What’s In #konball2?

Marketing for Kontrabida Ball 2 did a good job of including guests outright and teasing performances and games along the way. It didn’t hype itself “too much,” either. It’s both a party and a safe space for geeks, and it prioritizes both on an equal scale. Geeks who want to go to Kontrabida Ball 2 to have fun will have fun. Geeks who want to go to Kontrabida Ball 2 to chill will chill. If you went there for the festivities, they didn’t disappoint, either. Calling back on our Kontrabida Ball 2 Primer:

  • The dinner was a blast! They weren’t kidding when they said it’s a cocktail dinner buffet. Geeks and guests had their fair share of delectable pika-pika throughout the party. This serves as the perfect pulutan to the rather unique mix of drinks available for them. Moreover, chicken lollipops, sandwiches, pasta, and small desserts filled geeks – and the food was surprisingly very good. In speaking of pika-pika,
  • Those who went for chillnuman didn’t get disappointed. The open bar of shots presented itself when the event formally started. When geeks looked for a party, Kontrabida Ball 2 provided. I didn’t personally get to know what the drinks were called, but they were all good. They’re not too hard that it made me tipsy, but they’re definitely alcoholic. For me, the drinks perfectly served their purpose to provide a chill night for geeks.
  • There were even games and live performances. Kontrabida Ball 2 made an effort to have activities such as games and performances from people like those in Burlesque PH.

The Value Of Chill

Chill appears to be the main highlight of #konball as a whole, and Kontrabida Ball 2 continues this tradition. A lot of other geeks may look at Kontrabida Ball and say, “We do these with friends anyways.” That’s the point – Kontrabida Ball, and this year’s Kontrabida Ball 2, want others to experience what other geeks find themselves lucky enough to experience.

Not everyone gets to geek out with friends, much more the friends of their friends. Kontrabida Ball banks on this concept and this helps everyone – especially people outside the community – understand that geeks need a place to unwind as well. If you’re a geek who can’t find a lot of geeks to organize parties with, Kontrabida Ball does that for you.

What perhaps made Kontrabida Ball 2 a success would be the crowd. It’s definitely the crowd. Organizers, guests, and attendees felt right at home throughout the event. Admittedly, it’s stressful for organizers – given how logistics can really be a headache when events come full circle. Regardless, you’d feel the aura of pride from everyone. Props to Trisha and the gang for making this quite the successful event. I’d like to tip my hat to #ItanongMokayJudith, too, for encouraging me to go to the event.

Point is, Kontrabida Ball 2 wanted to be a party. They went for the extra mile and made sure it built a gathering that made new friends, and old friends much closer. And outside the drinks and the food, and the games and the festivities, isn’t that the point of a party?

Kontrabida Ball 3: Is It Third Time’s The Charm?

Unfortunately, I left Kontrabida Ball 2 close to midnight, primarily because of curfew. However, I did promise Judith and Marielle Baysa, our friends from Play Without Apology, that I’d be back next year… for a few hours longer. Unlike other gatherings, they didn’t push me to stay. No one ever pushed me to drink shots. Moreover, no one ever pressured me into doing anything. Kontrabida Ball 2 started to chill and, from what I heard, ended chill. Perhaps this is what makes folks stay and go back to #konball. It doesn’t disguise itself as anything else – it really is a party, and a party people can gladly go back to meet new and old friends alike.

Kontrabida Ball 2: Happily Never After happened last Oct. 13, 2018, at the One Cafe and Events Place in Pasig.

Rhenn Taguiam

Rhenn Taguiam is a frustrated journalist with a knack for comic books and video games. He likes pizza and pasta, and has an uncontrollable urge to gush over anything Super Sentai, Star Trek or X-Men. He is currently on his way to get his Master's Degree - unless he creates his own video game or graphic novel first.

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