Behind the glitz and glamour: Getting to the heart of the Aurora Ball
As the date for LGBTI fundraiser the Aurora Ball draws closer, Nicky Bryson relects on the magic which initially drew her in and the community spirit which keeps her coming back.
In 2011 I wrote a column in this series that remains one of my firm favourites. ‘Rat-Bags in Their Glad-Rags’ told the tale of me growing up and buying my first ticket to the Aurora Ball. I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in and would struggle to behave myself amongst a much more conservative crowd. Instead, what I found was a room full of semi-reformed rat-bags cavorting in their glad-rags and having a marvellous time.
I was so inspired as I looked around the glittering room that I pledged to start a new tradition for myself. Every year I would book a whole table for my friends, go crazy with the theme and bring new people to the ball, so they could feel this beguiling sense of delight.
Keeping that promise to myself has been one of the easiest things in the world. Next month, the 15th Annual Aurora Ball will turn Sydney Town Hall into a magical wonderland and for the third time, I will be hosting a table of fabulous guests.
[Image] Nicky Bryson and friends at the 2013 Aurora Ball. Photo: Robert Knapman
Some have been with me for the previous events, some are making their debut and one is a long-time Aurora volunteer who will be sitting down at the ball for the very first time (I’m sure they’ll miss her hosting skills but their loss is certainly my table’s gain).
The baby of my table will be joining me for a second time (taking advantage of the fantastic $160 youth ticket) and I can see his confidence growing as mine did. Last year he wore a safe tuxedo, this year he is doing a killer drag costume.
All of them are as excited as kids who still believe in Santa on the eve of Christmas.
For myself, each year my plans and outfits become more elaborate. This year, in honour of the Black & White Masquerade theme, I have a ballgown designed that could see me through a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding should the need arise. For the first time, I’ll even be hosting a pre-party soiree at my home and we’ll all be heading to the ball in Cinderella’s seriously sexy stretch coach.
The Aurora Ball has become the event of the year for me… as soon as the Sydney Town Hall doors close behind at the end of the night; I am already plotting for the next ball.
But there are a lot of big parties in our community, right? What makes this one so special? I think it is the palpable sense of doing something so essentially good. The money that is made from this event goes right back out to the community where it is most needed. Over the last year, the Aurora Foundation awarded $70,000 through their grants programs to a number of very grateful organisations.
Most people know my story by now; I wouldn’t be here, wouldn’t be so happy and healthy, if it wasn’t for the sort of organisations who receive these funds. I think about that as I look around the ball each year. I look at every face and think “you are helping someone the way I was helped”. It makes me love them and you can tell from the atmosphere (that is even more beautiful than the decorations) that it makes them love each other.
Perhaps out loud we say “I love your outfit” but we are really thinking “I love your heart”.
The Aurora Ball is on Saturday, June 21, at Sydney Town Hall. Go to auroragroup.com.au.