Otaku Sanctuary Presents SoCal Cosplay Ball
See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's photo gallery, "SoCal Cosplay Ball."
Shannon Cottrell Ginger Burton of SoCal Cosplay Ball
Back in January of 2009, when Shannon Cottrell and I covered Anime Los Angeles together for the first time, we met Ginger Burton. At the time, Burton was a student at California State University Northridge who had started a cosplay business.
We've kept in touch with Burton over the past two years and she's accomplished quite a bit since then. She finished school and has popped up at many of the conventions we've attended, oftentimes promoting her commission-based business, GNB Cosplay or sometimes helping with friend Ejen Chuang's photography book Cosplay in America . She also started her own magazine, Otaku Sanctuary, dedicated to the art of dressing as your favorite characters. Most recently, though, she launched SoCal Cosplay Ball, a one-day event where locals could come together for performances, dinner and a formal dance.
Though there are cosplay balls in the U.K., the event is still unusual in the U.S., where cosplay-oriented dances tend to take place at conventions. (We should note that this is slightly different from masquerade balls like Labyrinth of Jareth, where attendees aren't necessarily involved in cosplay.)
Shannon Cottrell Playing Jenga in the Ani-Maid Cafe
"I actually thought of the idea last year and talked it over with my friends Ellie, Deanna and Chloe," says Burton. "The major planning of it started in January."
Burton and her three friends, who also work on Otaku Sanctuary, organized the event together.
"They kept me sane," says Burton. "I probably called this whole thing off like ten times in the past month and just said, 'Forget it. Just refund everyone's money, call it a day. I don't care anymore.'
"They just kept encouraging me and telling me, 'We should just do it. It will be fun. It's our first time, don't worry."
One major hurdle was finding a venue that would allow them to keep the cover charge low, as the cost involved with hotel events would have likely raised ticket prices over $50, she explains. That's steep considering the amount of money cosplayers need to pay for costumes, as well as entrance fees and hotels, for the year's biggest conventions.
Burton and her friends, though, were able to rent out Nature Friends, an event space in Sierra Madre that butts up against Angelus National Forest. This allowed them to produce a day-long event that would only cost attendees $25. The venue worked out for more than just affordability, though, as the rustic setting provided an excellent backdrop for photos.