been at it again! This year ‘Ladies Night' was a Venetian
Masked Ball… he's a little devil!
Planning commenced in The Club bar (where else)
in mid January under Rodgers chairmanship. Actually it was more like
bar-stool-ship but what the hell! Several pints later things were
definitely getting out of control.
The conversion of the clubhouse into a Venetian
Palace was vetoed by Bodgit & Son (planning permission aside).
The re-modeling of Waterman to make it look like a Gondola was
considered to be a 'little ambitious' and Bryan Clements offer to
convert the patio into a replica of St. Mark's Square just wasn't taken
Eventually however the relevant details did get
sorted and actions assigned to whomever didn't get out of the place
fast enough. The clubhouse did, sort off, get converted into central
Venice with a series of graphic impressions around the walls and curved
arches replacing the normal 'squareness' of the place; The club
watering hole was converted into the "Cafe Rialto su Thamisis" and
low-and-behold even Waterman got a Gondola makeover.
Venetian Palace clubhouse
Rodger worked out the menu, set about procurement and arranged for
waiters, barmen and a cabaret. Even the dinner tables got a makeover
and ended up black!
Rumours also started filtering in that masks and
costumes were being actively sought by the rapidly increasing number of
people who had applied for tickets. Obviously 'Ladies Night' fame has
spread to the furthest reaches of the membership.
The masked ball was held in the clubhouse on
Saturday evening 11th February and promised dinner, dance,
entertainment and modest debauchery; I think that's a contradiction of
terms and should probably have read 'immodest debauchery'.
The laid up tables were themed black and gold and
looked pretty 'spiffy' complete with candelabras.
As the guests arrived they were greeted by Rodger
and our Commodore Nigel with a variety of multi-coloured aperitifs and
a flower for each of the ladies.
The costumes were amazing and as someone once
said "a picture paints a thousand words", I will leave it to them when
they appear on the club's excellent website.
Pat Halling and Mike Leigh provided some suitable
music and it wasn't long before Aquarius took on a very Venetian
An excellent dinner was served by Rodger Wheeler, Mike Rodgers, Leo
Bond, Nigel Knowles, Charles Dennis and George Bray all dressed as
Following a very relaxed dinner one or two of the
tables where moved to make room for dancing and the cabaret. I won't
say too much about the entertainment apart from Pat and Mike's
contribution was superb, as always.
The contribution made by 'Ballet Bodgit' had to
be seen to be believed. I saw it and I still don't believe it; and what
about the Gondola MS Bodgit? Nigel had a lot of fun making that I can
tell you. Rumour has it that it is destined for Ebay. So if you've ever
wanted your own, somewhat cut down, Gondola get on, and get bidding.
The Mascheranda ended with socializing around the
bar. I thought the evening was a resounding success, I just hope the
Aquarius ladies thought so too. Grateful thanks to Rodger and Nigel for
organising the whole thing, and to the small army of 'gentlemen' who
helped out on the night and with the clearing up on Sunday morning.
I'm hoping someone has metaphorically twisted a
suitable ladies arm to write a female perspective of the evening. At
the end of the day it was the Ladies it was all done for so I guess
they should have the last word.
The problem the club now has is how is it going
to top that next year! Ideas in writing please to the Commodore; better
now know as, Nigella (Prima Bodgit Ballerina) Knowles.
So what's the history of the Venice carnivals?
Well … they date way back to the year 998 when history
records that Croatian pirates raided Venice and kidnapped several
Venetian girls. Some young Venetian noblemen traced the pirates and
managed to rescue the girls.
To celebrate their achievement a large festival
was held. This event laid the tradition of the Venice Carnival which is
still celebrated annually in the city at the beginning of February.
Roots of carnival, not to be confused with the
above, go to the Latin culture. Origins of this holiday lay in the
famous Roman saturnalia or wild party/orgy.
Now I've got your attention! The main tradition
of saturnalia was to destroy the difference between master and slaves.
During the holiday slaves where allowed to sit at the masters tables
and even abuse them. However, in order not to spoil the fun, people
This practice went to Venice and the masque
became a key feature of the carnival. Carnival reached its peak in the
18th century where it became the main event of the year. At the
carnival nothing was judged and nothing was considered too shameful,
bold, dissolute or too heedless.
For two weeks honourable people could indulge in
vices with no need to justify themselves. All they had to do was put on
a masque to become unrecognizable.
The wearing of masques and costumes was well
established by 1436, when masque makers or Mascereri were officially
recognised with their own guild. Commedia dell'Arte masques are based
on characters like Harlequin. With its origins in Renaissance Italy
(early 16th Century) the Commedia dell'Arte was one of the earliest
forms of theatre as we know it today, starting with street performers
donning masque to draw attention to themselves.
After the big European revolutions however the
carnival tradition was lost and only after the Second World War, when
Venice became one of the main tourist centres of Europe, did the
tradition start to recommence.
Here endeth the history lesson for this year!
A big THANK YOU
from Rodger Wheeler to all who helped with Mascheranda