Written for MyCentralJersey.com
These days, New Year’s Eve parties are usually reduced to overcrowded bars, obscene cover charges and mediocre meals. Gone is the era of upscale entertainment, encompassing ballrooms and fine dining for Dec. 31.
However, thanks to Kay and eLLe Productions, an event production company based in Hillsdale, that has changed in the past few years — most recently with their Gatsby Ball, a New Year’s Eve party at the Pines Manor in Edison that features a masquerade theme.
“My friends and I were looking for something to do for New Year’s about four years ago and we were sick of tired of standing in long lines and doing the same old thing,” said Karen Phillips, owner of Kay and eLLe Productions. “So, we planned a masquerade party, and ever since then, we have done one each year with a new theme.”
About 350 people are expected to attend the 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Gatsby Ball this year, with tickets ranging from $149 to $164 per person that include a five-hour open bar, live DJ playing Top 40 music with a mix of rock, club, dance, Latin and hip-hop, dinner from the Pines Manor, champagne toast, party favors, live broadcast of the Times Square ball drop, coat check, discounted hotel rates and shuttle service.
The dinner will include a one-hour cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres such as bacon-wrapped scallops, chicken satay and coconut shrimp, followed by a buffet-style dinner with sliced sirloin steak, grilled salmon, roasted chicken, penne vodka, salads and various sides. It will commence with dessert, coffee, tea and cookies and pastries from the Cookie Bar.
The event has attracted various ages and origins in the past, ranging from groups of 20-somethings to singles to married couples from New Jersey to Australia and everything in between. But most of them are from the tri-state area, and they all love good food, cocktails, dancing and mingling.
The one thing that the attendees will have in common at the Gatsby Ball, which will be held in the Pines Manor’s ballroom filled with stilt walkers, feathers and oversized balloons in a black-and-gold glamorous 1920s setting, will be that all of them will be masked.
“This is a great chance for people to dress up nicely, wear a fun mask and have a little bit of mystery,” Phillips said.
Masquerade balls originated in medieval courts as lavish celebrations of royal weddings and other majestic milestones. Dancing and music, as well as hired entertainers, were typical elements of a masquerade. Aristocrats attended in extravagant costumes and exquisite masks, which allowed anonymity to a class that was strictly governed by proper etiquette and social rules.
The allure of a masquerade comes from the freedom provided by the guise of masks and costumes, to socialize, dance and court one another without ever having to reveal their identities.
With its beauty and mysterious appeal, it’s no surprise that masquerades continue to be held today. In keeping with tradition, masks are a must, as well as music and dancing. All of these elements are meant to keep identities hidden and allow mask-wearers to mingle without inhibition until the big midnight reveal.
The attire for the event is formal/cocktail wear, with no jeans, cargo pants, sneakers or baseball caps allowed — men are encouraged to wear slacks and button-downs or tuxedos; women are encouraged to wear formal dresses. Masks are highly encouraged for all guests, although not required.
This is the third year that the event, which has also been themed as a French/Marie Antoinette-style masquerade, a New Orleans-style masquerade and an ice ball, will be at the Pines Manor. In its first year, it was at The Westwood in Garwood but has since been moved to hold more guests and prevent overcrowding and as a more convenient and central location.
“The Gatsby theme is one that we have always wanted to do,” said Phillips. “If you want to eat, dance and drink the night away, then the Gatsby Ball is for you.”
NEW YEAR’S EVE MASQUERADE GATSBY BALL
Where: Pines Manor, 2085 Lincoln Highway, Edison
When: Dec. 31 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Cost: Tickets range from $149 to $164 per person
Tickets: Visit newyearsballnj.com/tickets to purchase tickets
Contact: Call 201-232-9923, visit newyearsballnj.com or email email@example.com