Bring your Beaux to the Ball

By Megan Hurt

Burley B. Thomas regretted his decision to dress up as a faun when he attended the annual Beaux Arts Ball two years ago.

The ball, which always takes place in the spring, was held in a parking garage on a particularly chilly night, and Thomas was left shivering from the cold.

“Throwing a jacket on would have ruined the outfit,” said Thomas, a Bluegrass Community and Technical College student. “So I just had to deal with it and dance my cold butt away.”

This year’s Beaux Arts Ball looks like it will be held in fairer weather, which Thomas said he is thankful for.

“(It) makes me think this year will be at least more bearable for all the people who show up wearing thongs, body glitter and smiles,” he said. “I think I may even break some skin back out this year.”

The ball, which is sponsored by the UK College of Design, starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. This year’s masquerade will feature five bands, two guest DJs, a fire dancing group, a fashion and drag show and a UK Dance Ensemble performance. The ball is scheduled to last until 2 a.m.

Some of the ball’s biggest attractions include the costumes that attendees are encouraged to make.

“At Halloween you see a lot of store-bought, cheesy costumes,” Thomas said, “but there is a drive for everyone to make the Beaux Arts Ball costume a little more original, funnier, sexier, and by all means, much louder.”

Thomas, who has attended the ball three times, also has advice for the student worried about what to wear.

“I was scared my first year that my costume wasn’t good enough; it was simple and kind of poorly done, but I think it would be harder not to fit in at the ball,” he said. “If you don’t feel eccentric enough and you want to be: rip a sleeve, get a colored cheap wig and a matching shirt; it’s not hard to go all out for something like this.”

The first Beaux Arts Ball at UK was held in 1969 and it was based on an architectural concept originating during 19th century France. The ball has not been held every year but has been a mainstay for the past decade. Since that first Beaux Arts, it has grown to such popularity that people have even traveled from overseas to celebrate, according to the event’s official Web site.

While the ball is seen as a forum to celebrate creativity, the ultimate goal is to raise money for local charities, said Kristi Buchler, director of the Beaux Arts Foundation.

“Each year we try to think about who really needs the money in the community,” Buchler said. ”We try to find groups that are based locally and have a strong presence here.”

Last year the Beaux Arts Ball raised $14,000. For the first time, the money was split between a local charity and College of Design scholarships: $3,000 went to scholarships and $11,000 went to the Aids Volunteers of Lexington. This year, the goal is to raise $17,000 for the Hospital Hospitality House and Bluegrass Domestic Violence Shelter.

“The money we give to the Hospital Hospitality House will be for specific items, as they are working on renovating their facilities,” Buchler said. “So we’ll be working with them to choose the areas that they most need the money.”

She said the money will probably be split evenly between the Hospital Hospitality House and the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Shelter this year.

“On a base level, the ball is about having a great time — enjoying great music, getting dressed up, being with friends, all while doing some good,” Buchler said. ”But it’s also about more than that. It’s about creativity and being avant-garde; it’s about stepping outside your normal self and being a part of a spectacle; it’s about acceptance of all appearances and lifestyles.”

Attendees must be 18 years of age to enter the ball, and 21 to drink.

Tickets are being sold on campus in front of Pence Hall and are $20 in advance and $30 at the door. Transportation is provided for $1 a person from the UK Student Center and Rupp Arena from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The original venue for the ball was disqualified because of fire code violations found Tuesday. A new location has yet to be finalized. For more information about the Beaux Arts Ball, visit its Web site (