The Absolut X event invite described this masquerade ball on November 19th as “a night of exceptional collaboration, bringing together artists from the worlds of music, art and cocktails at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.” Little did I know that my RSVP to the event was a passport to another world on this ordinary cool, autumn Tuesday night in Uptown.
The Aragon Ballroom was a perfect venue for such an event. Built in 1926 and hosting extremely successful daily events through the 1940’s, the strong, Moorish architectural style resembles a Spanish village. The large, lighted marquee on the outside of the venue announces its history, giving a feeling of the old, romantic days of the Naval balls and big bands that the venue once hosted. The inside of the ballroom almost feels like a soundstage from a production of Romeo and Juliet.
It would be easy, with such grand architecture, to let the beauty of the venue overtake the more modern vibe that this event was trying to create. But, romanticism was blended perfectly with a modern aesthetic to create a night of perfect collaboration.
The main ballroom was epic. In the middle of the Spanish village was a large, sculpuresque looking installation, surrounded by bartenders working away at the large, circular bar. In the middle of the action was the elevated DJ spinning not too loud music that was perfect for the mood. People were able to walk underneath an underpass under the DJ booth which was filled with smoke.
The only element that wasn’t diverse was the drinks. As an Absolute Vodka sponsored event, only Absolute infused drinks were served. But, mixologist Lynn House from Blackbird did an amazing job of creating a menu that both catered to an audience of wide tastes and created a menu that fit the mood of the event. My favorite was the Absolute Grapefruit, a mixture of Absolute, grapefruit juice, and a grapefruit slice garnish.
Besides all the amazing music through the night, from Holy Ghost!, DJ AutoErotique, and DJ Zebo, the last great collaborative element of the night was an exhibit by Chicago visual artist Nick Cave. His interactive art incorporated manicans that allowed attendees to stick multiple-colored duct tape on the plastic bodies all night.