Masquerading Atop the Hotel Andalucía

With the holiday season over, I had assumed the last thing I’d
be doing the first weekend of January would be donning a dress and
heading to a black tie event. But this was no ordinary event: It
was the second “Maszque” masquerade ball, the latest fundraising
fête to hit the scene, scheduled to go down once a season at Hotel
Andalucía’s rooftop bar, El Cielo, on the Friday night closest to
the full moon. And, the invitation read, masks were a must.

I was in, if a little creeped out, as the first thought that
comes to mind when I think masks is Stanley Kubrick’s ultra-creepy
flick Eyes Wide Shut, which featured the masquerade ball to end all
masquerade balls, a password-protected affair where masks were the
only thing attendees wore, and that came complete with danger,
fear, and loads of illicit sex set to a soundtrack provided by a
blindfolded piano player who was a little too loose-lipped for his
own good. (As tempting as all that might sound, if you’ve seen the
movie, you know what I’m talkin’ about.) Regardless, I’m always up
for a costumed affair. And the possibility of a little dark
intrigue doesn’t hurt, either.

And so, with that hair-raising tink-tink-tink-tink-tink-tink
score playing in my head, I dashed down to Scavenge to pick up a
mask. The guy behind the counter offered some sage words of advice
(“You know, you won’t be able to drink anything if you wear one of
those full-face ones,” he said, saving me from making a disastrous
decision) and steered me toward a green, gold, and purple, Mardi
Gras-inspired choice that he said complemented my eyes. Who knew?
At home, while the wind began picking up outside, I wandered around
the house with my new mask on, crashing into doorways while trying
to get used to its handicapping effects on my peripheral vision,
and spooking the crap out of my dog. By the time my girlfriend/date
for the evening arrived, I felt I’d gotten the hang of it.

We headed out, and, although the moon — big and bright though it
was — wasn’t technically full, the wind had gotten stronger and
chillier, filling the requisite creepy nature role to perfection.
So imagine our surprise when we arrived, and discovered a perfectly
mellow scene: A pared-down crowd (due, no doubt, to that crazy wind
in combo with the holiday hangover) sipped champagne and chatted,
while a masked, but not blindfolded, Orlando Napier tickled the
ivories beneath a large screen, on which a slideshow played.
Organizers Justin Michael and Brianna Winn successfully raised
quite a bit of loot for Santa Barbara Middle School, and, after a
scandal-free spell, we said our goodbyes and set off, masks on,
looking for a little — just a little — bit of trouble.

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