“It is not you who wears the mask,
but the mask wears you”
In order to get into the mood for our Masquerade Ball, you can find herewith some historical background on this peculiar event and also on the habit of wearing masks.
A masquerade ball, or bal masqué, is an event in which the participants attend in costume wearing a mask. So let it be a challenge for us all to go for a complete outfit and stand out!
Why did human beings start wearing masks?
This stone mask from the pre-ceramic neolithic period dates to 7000 BC
and is probably the oldest mask in the world
Masks have played a crucial historical role in the development of understandings about “what it means to be human”, because they permit the imaginative experience of “what it is like” to be transformed into a different identity or to affirm an existing social or spiritual identity. Not all cultures have known the use of masks, but most of them have, such as in West Africa, Latin-America, Asia, the Middle East and in Europe.
Let’s zoom in on masquerade masks. They were worn delicately by the prosperous class at balls. Masquerade masks had many uses including hiding one’s identity, and using different colors to express one’s freedom of speech and voice one’s emotions and opinions without judgement. There were two types of base masquerade masks; black masks and white masks. Designs and patterns were created over the base that was chosen. The main types of masks included masks with a stick (which one could hold to keep the mask in front of their face), the head mask, the full-face mask, and the half face mask. From classics like The Phantom of the Opera and Romeo and Juliet to The Lone Ranger and Gossip Girl, masquerade masks have been, and are still used in many types of media today.
During the Middle Ages, where Christianity prevailed in Europe, wearing a mask was condemned for its ‘true face’ had to be shown at all times. One exception to the rule was the celebration of Carnival, which lead to the Venetian Masquerade. It is since the end of the 13th century that masks are worn in Venice. Covering the face in public was a uniquely Venetian response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history. During Carnival, the sumptuary laws were suspended, and people could dress as they liked, instead of according to the rules that were set down in law for their profession and social class.
Each Venetian mask has its own history. Some masks are only worn by men, others only by women.
Today a lot of party people hide behind a mask during Carnival, but we actually all do this in our day to day lives but it’s simply less obvious. Like a chameleon who adjusts its color in order to blend into the background to hide its vulnerability, we frequently wear a mask in order to cover up our fragility or our true feelings. This ‘mask’ defers according to the role we play and its context: as a parent, friend, neighbor, colleague, employee but also in what we post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or as a tanguero or tanguera…!
Let’s seize this Masquerade Ball as an opportunity to let go and play a role wearing a mask and a spectacular outfit in a unique setting whilst dancing to the most beautiful tandas’s!
But remember: ‘It is not you who wears the mask, it’s the mask that wears you…!