Lounge Shopper

The History of the Masquerade Ball

Every now and again it's nice to indulge in a bit of decadence and luxury, so put those comfies away and that box of wine down and throw a mysterious and majestic Masquerade Ball.

The Masquerade Ball dates back to the 14th and 15th century where it was part of Europe’s carnival season. Masked balls were less of a high society event back then and a more cirque du celebration where villagers would gather in masks and costumes to take part in pageants and processions.

It wasn’t until much later, in the 16th century, that masquerade balls became associated with Italy. Undeterred by the Venetian aristocracy, villagers would often take full advantage of the night of anonymity hiding behind Venetian Eye Masks to disguise their true identity.

It was thought that Venetian mask wearing was a response to the rigid class cultures throughout Europe at that time. It allowed everyone to be equal and anyone could be anyone just for a day. The extravagant and sumptuous events would last as long as two months until new laws came into place which saw the masked event reduced to just under a month long.

The Venetian carnival celebrations were always full of decadence, gluttony and of course, lust. However, sadly in 18th century the masquerade balls began to shrink until they eventually disappeared. Due to the heightened use of the masks throughout the country, that the Italian government was forced to put a law in place to prevent the masks being worn with the exception of carnival season.

During this time the balls became popular in England after Swiss Count Heidegger, brought the Venetian costumes over to be used at public dances in gardens across London. Although, most wore the masks and waltzed the evening away, some wore them for much sinister purposes to hide one’s true identity.

When Swedish King, Gustav III, set about to reform parliament and restoring the royal autocracy his methods gained him many powerful enemies, seeing him dance his last dance at one of his very own masquerade balls. One of his killers, a nobleman, used the mask to sneak into the ball which allowed him just close enough that he could assassinate the King. From then on, masquerade balls were associated as a night of risk and have lead to many operas and plays.

Today the masquerade ball is considered somewhat of a novelty affair. Whilst Venetian eye masks can still be found lining the canals of Venice and during carnival season, the balls were gradually replaced by night clubs. It is only now at a themed party that you will probably see a masquerade ball, and the likelihood that you or others will be waltzing around the dance floor is pretty slim.

Some still revel in the Venetian carnival season, but more so in Italy than anywhere else. Lavish and highly hand-decorated Venetian masks are still readily available with many used as wall decorations. North Wales, even sees its very own Italian shop which sells these historical and luxurious masks. So, the next time you’re stuck for a party planning idea and fancy a night of decadence make sure a masquerade ball is at the very top of your list.

part of the Livetech Group celebrating 10 years service
mini community

This is a 

powered by the minisite web design platform