The eighth Annual Snow Ball gala on Jan. 25 lived up to its hype, an event filled with glitter and pomp, as well as a bit of snow.
That night, the skies cast a shroud of frigid white over Jersey City. But it was not enough to keep the crowds from filling the Hamilton Square venue. Many people came dressed up to be part of what has become one of the city’s hippest fashion events.
Started in 2007, the annual party was an opportunity for people to have fun and help raise funds for artistic events put on by Art House Productions.
This year’s event featured eclectic music by Vespertine, a Jersey City-based band playing popular songs with a loungy, bossa nova twist. The event raised funds for the company’s upcoming season of theater, music, visual art, JC Fridays festivals, dance, comedy, and poetry events.
“This event raises more than 20 percent of the money we need to put on our events,” said Executive Director Christine Goodman, who took the lead in dressing up, from her white princess dress to the silver sparkle that gave her face its glittering look.
Two years ago, the Snow Ball raised $12,000, exceeding that last year by several thousand. With the number of people crowding into the venue this year, it is clear that the fundraiser might well have exceeded expectations again.
“The Snow Ball allows us to bring other things like JC Fridays, art exhibitions, dance, music, comedy and youth programs.” – Christine Goodman
“The Snow Ball allows us to bring other things like JC Fridays, art exhibitions, dance, music, comedy and youth programs,” she said, saying that Art House is putting on a young people’s version of “The Music Man” shortly.
This year hundreds of people attended, although only about a third of them dressed exotically enough to take the walk along the runway that has become a traditional highlight of the gala.
Unlike other events hosted by Art House which present some artistic endeavor, at the Snow Ball people become the art work as they attempt to stand out in some way, making a fashion statement or rebelling against existing fashion. This year was no exception.
The ball is “black tie creative,” which allows for personal interpretation of the traditional tuxedo or gown. The event evoked classic hip venues such as Andy Warhol’s “The Factory” scene from 1960s New York City or annual events such as the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Guests are encouraged to compete for the annual best-dressed or couple award by donning their favorite formal attire, including vintage, wedding and costume-wear.
Mayor Steven Fulop, who dressed conservatively for the event, called Art House one of the foundations of culture in Jersey City.
Fulop did, however, take the lead with Goodman, as the first couple down the runway.
Michael McNett, who lived up to his Scottish heritage by wearing a kilt, said he had come to support Art House. Jewelry-maker and public relations professional by day, McNett said he came last year.
“It’s great fun,” he said.
Art House has humble roots. Starting out in the somewhat drafty loft of Victory Hall on Grand Street in early 2001, it has evolved into one of the leading venues for the arts in the city.
Art House started as a one-time open mic event in response to 9/11 in late 2001, and soon became a regular reading series housed for the most part in the upper floors of Victory Hall.
In 2003, Art House began to tape and broadcast its readings via Comcast public access channels, featuring local talent that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Over the years, Art House has gone on to host theatrical performances, dance shows, visual art exhibits, and JC Fridays, held at the beginning of each calendar season.
“All this is important to me and my city,” Goodman said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.