Wow what an epic trip!!!! I seriously have not had such a great time traveling in forever! London is one of my favorite cities in the world and I go completely tourist gaga over it. This was also Brian's first time in Europe and I think he was overwhelmed but very happy, too.
I can not say enough great things about the wonderful people who made this trip happen for us:
Emily Bastian, Jess, Emily O created the Grand Ball event out of nothing and these girls are so brave and smart and sweet! Your event was a great success and I wish you all the best for the future and the next Ball!!! Thank you so so very much for inviting me, and taking such good care of us the entire time we were there. I really miss you ladies.
To Hideki and Tokyo Toys, thank you for the sponsorship that made this trip happen for me. You really are a super nice guy and we felt so welcome.
To Zyna, who got Brian the buddy pass and made it possible for him to come with me, and who came with us for a couple of days also, thank you for your friendship and I hope you had some fun watching us be nutty at Tokyo Toys.
To Chris, who hosted us for the last few days of our visit - thank you for letting us hang out with you!
To all the wonderful cosplayers and cosplay enthusiasts we met, thank you for being so friendly and forthcoming to us, for sharing your costume work and for coming out to the Ball, as well as your time with us in the city! I will see at least some of you at AX 2009 and I hope to have the chance to come back to the UK one day!
International Cosplay Day at Tokyo Toys: 29th November 2008
This was a great event held in the Trocadero at Piccadilly Circus in the heart of London. Hideki of Tokyo Toys, my sponsor, invited me and Brian to partake in a Cosplay Day where we did interviews, photos and met a lof of European cosplayers and anime fans. I also held a small signing session and sold some merchandise and accessories. Emily, our coordinator and host, asked us to dress in comfortable costumes so we chose our Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong outfits from "Resident Evil 4". I was very excited to talk to the local cosplayers as well as those who traveled all the way from Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France and Spain to be there. Many of them I had never met before, but I got to see my friend Naraku from Germany again as well as her friends, and Mark, who we met at Anime Expo a couple of years ago. Everyone was so nice and fun and a huge group of us had dinner (and Karaoke) at a Japanese Restaurant in Chinatown afterward. Thank you so much, Hideki, for having us!
The Grand International Cosplay Ball: 30th November 2008
Emily and the Ball invited me to their event in the spring of 2008 and since then I have been so looking forward to this night. The venue - The Clapham Grand - is beautiful, and the guests invited and programming are so exciting! On the night of, they had two fully stocked bars, an Alice in Wonderland themed photo area, fabulous DJs, multiple dances and performances such as a Fire Performer, a Japanese Idol Hiko Suzuki, Burlesque dancer Trixie Malicious, the Johnny Lazer band, a kimono fashion show and wonderful singing acts by cosplayers Kelly and Polly.
We talked about me doing a performance on stage as well, and I spent a long time contemplating what I could do as a solo performance that wouldn't require a lot of props. In the end I decided it would be easiest to sing, and I chose to do a cosplay of Sheryl Nome from "Macross Frontier". I finished two costumes for the Ball and prepared two songs, but at the end decided to keep it short and sweet with "Diamond Crevasse". I definitely would be up for doing another performance as Sheryl at a future show.
On the 30th, we arrived at about 1pm and after walking around the gorgeous venue, I did my sound check and then changed into costume so I could do a dress rehearsal. My performance involved an on stage costume change so I wanted to make sure everything lined up with the stage layout and music. After the rehearsal, I did a photoshoot with photographer Pat Lyttle who was simply wonderful! Then I grabbed a bite to eat, did a couple of interviews and already it was time for the doors to open already at 7pm! We were so happy to see the huge amount of people dressed up in fantastic costumes and the place became packed very soon. I hung out for a while until it was time for me to go onstage. My performance went well but not perfect, the smoke machine was drying out my throat and making it harder to hit the notes boo. But everyone was very encouraging and complimentary, and I got to relax for the rest of the night! We got our drink on and I spent a long while dancing with my new friends! We absolutely had a fantastic time. Before we knew it, the night was coming to an end with the Last Dance.
The venue then kind of unceremoniously kicked us out so we didn't get to say bye to a lot of people, but I just can't believe how great the event went and Brian and I remarked on how European cosplayers really know how to party! I wish we had been able to get more photos of the Ball itself, but it was so dark that when we tried to get pics of the dancing crowd, they all turned out terrible. I will add more links of photos by others as I find them though, and the Grand Ball website will have their photos up soon as well!
You can see a BBC coverage of the Ball here, including footage from my performance!
These following websites also have photos from the event:
Pat Lyttle's photos from the Grand Ball
Mark K's Facebook Photos from the Grand Ball
Ajay Arora's Facebook photos from the Grand Ball
Animetion's Grand Ball Review