Montag, 27 April 2015 11:13

Gala Nocturna 2015 – THE SWAN PRINCESS

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Again Gala Nocturna changed venues. Turning their back to good old Antwerp, the illustrious assembly from all over Europe headed towards the capital of Belgium, Brussels. Concert Noble, a ballroom from the 19th century originally built for the Belgian noblesse, located at the heart of the EU area.

chandelierBy Charger Photography (

It seemed for this night a very special kind of aristocracy was approaching these noble walls. This year's theme encouraged guests to include innumerable amounts of feathers (preferably white ones) into their gowns and headpieces. But there were also other characters from the famous piece of Tschaikowski such as sorcerers, black swans and lakes.

8:00 PM

The "Concert Noble" ducks quite inconspicuously between 7 story office-buildings in an non-descript street. The outside reveals next to nothing about the glamorous rooms within. Grand interior such as huge chandeliers, mirrors, portraits and stucco awaited the guests inside. It is so far the most conventional location and seemed well-suited to the fairytale theme.


By Charger Photography (

Even for early birds the queuing started right away. Whether it is a deliberate decision that the hosts of the evening Viona and Dirk themselves handle the entrance and ticket checking or just the only alternative for this rather old ticket system (crossing out numbers on a list), we do not know. Also the QR codes on the tickets remain a mystery.

We then entered the vendor area, which connected the lobby with the main ball room.

The visual impact of those huge chandeliers was gorgeous and even their moving shadows where great to look at.

8:30 PM

IMG 1854We eagerly joined the historical dance lesson. Lieven Baert again did a great job. But even with a lot of enthusiasm the rudeness of couples joining in and getting out of the dance as they please without knowing the steps spoiled the experience of dancing surrounded by this noble grandeur. Some even declared that the dance lesson was too long. Maybe it would be more diverting to have historical dances followed by a couple of songs suitable for waltzing spread throughout the evening to give the those eager to dance in couples several opportunities. Or there should be a second dance floor in future editions. This time instead of serenely waltzing along we had some experiences more suitable for a metal concert's mosh pit.

10:00 PM

The opening dance by the Swan Princess and the Sourcerer of course was a ballet. Unfortunately or rather predictably with 600 guests there was not much to be seen from the 5th or 6th row. Lucky me there where several video cameras capturing the dance, that was emotional without becoming cheesy. Using the also existing stage in the ball room might have made this performance viewable for all guests. Later on I met the two ballet dancers and saw the elaborate body paintings and costumes in detail.

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By Charger Photography

High time for a drink. And this year the whole process of exchanging money for drink tokens and getting the drinks itself was much improved. Queuing times where reduced due to an additional bar and lightning fast service crew behind the counters. Also there was enough beer (well done!) and some swan lake themed longdrinks. It is still a drawback that drink tokens are not refunded. At least it was clearly communicated beforehand this year.

There was no food, but a swan buffet, that was announced to be "only for real swans" and to consist of "wicked gourmet appetizers". We had our share of fun guessing , what would be served there (my favourite was "an old man on a bench spreading dried bread crumbs"). De facto there where well-seasoned and roasted worms, grasshoppers and maggots to be eaten. I degustated two grasshoppers and found them nice and crispy comparable to very thin crisps.

IMG 186320 vendors and a tattoo artists where there to divert oneself (apart from dancing, drinking, taking photos and eating swan food). I was particularly attracted by some delicate jewelery resembeling insects, when I learned that in fact these where real insects covered in brass. A pretty impressive skill to give insects a silver coating. In terms of visual effect it looked much more like a convention or market for mostly jewelry, clothing and accessoires and a little out of place in the elegant setting of Concert Noble's grand rooms. It seems business

 wasn't selling very well since some vendors began wrapping up and leaving before the end of the ball.

IMG 1865

We missed the walking acts and acting scenes from last year's episode. In the queue at the photo corner some diversion would have been highly appreciated. 90 minutes of waiting only to be told that there are no more prints, is a frustrating experience. I'm not sure if it is manageable to take the photographs of 600 guests without these extensive queues but offering prints was not the cleverest of steps to reduce waiting time.

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The music was a mix of Gothic, romantic/epic Soundtracks and songs in waltz time. The sound engineering was very much improved compared to last year's ball.


Gala Nocturna has established itself as THE dark romantic ball and is a yearly event causing creative sewing frenzies and much anticipation during the preparation process for this ball. Regarding venues and elaborate details in costumes and program it is unmatched by other events. In harsh contrast stands the comfort the participating guests experience during the ball itself. The chief cause is the yearly increasing number of guests in contrast to the exclusive venues with limited space and possibilities (e.g. last years great outdoor area vs. sound restrictions after midnight). I'm sure both hosts are creatively working around these obstacles.

10915086 873921052646584_6545868727334228601_oBy Charger Photography (

This year's episode of Gala Nocturna was much approved regarding the service at the bar(s). The drawback of good manners on the dance floor and during the dance lesson is a new issue. I challenge the community of dark romantics to prove that there is more to their noblesse than just fancy dresses and excessive picture taking at upcoming Viona's Victorian Village at WGT this year.

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