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Friday, December 9,2011

Boulder Christmas ball offers music, nostalgia

Jazz, big band featured in Saturday event

By Steve Weishampel

In his latest film, Midnight in Paris — now entering its one billionth month in local theaters—Woody Allen explores the lure and danger of nostalgia. Those who came out of the film wishing they could travel to the past have a chance this weekend: Boulder Elks Lodge will host its second annual 1940s-themed Big Band Christmas Ball Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.

This isn’t some half-hearted ugly sweater party where the theme flies out the door in the first 10 minutes. The ball fully embraces its post-World War II theme, with a costume and dance contest to judge who best embraces 1940s style.

“You don’t have to know how to dance,” says 1940s ball creator and founder Khyentse James. “It’s really just to get everyone in their costumes dancing.” James says the winners “actually get pretty big prizes: two $50 gift certificates to the [Boulder] Cork.” Runners-up will receive gift baskets and a pinup shoot with Erie photographer Iman Woods.

Aside from the costume contest, the ball will feature a long list of performers: Front Range big band The Hot Tomatoes will play, along with late-night rockabilly ’50s band The Atomic Drifters at a ’50s-themed dance party at the end of the evening. Denver-based jazz dance group The Diamond Dolls will perform as well. Re-enactments of classic films will include Jimmy Stewart and his angel and Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, as well as a re-enactment of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas.”

“We have a really full night,” James says. Attendees — apparently, even though it’s a ball, the term is not “ballers”— can roast chestnuts outdoors and watch Hawaiian hula dancers, or take swing dance lessons from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 James says the Christmas ball follows the success of the 1940s World War II Ball, held in June at the Boulder Airport. After a strong first year in 2009, James decided to start a Christmas version to benefit charities during the holidays: Toys for Tots is among the charities that benefit from the ball.

“We work with the Wounded Warrior Project, Toys for Tots and the Spirit of Flight Center,” she says. Wounded Warrior assists injured service members as they transition to civilian life; Spirit of Flight is an aviation museum in Erie. The 1940s Ball, itself a non-profit, donates all net proceeds to charity, James says. Over three years the non-profit has raised over $16,000.

James says she’s excited to see how the ball builds on last year’s success. “Last year was great,” she says. “We had an amazing turnout, the show was wonderful and everybody seemed to have a really great time.”

Dinner and drinks will be available at the event, but are not included in the ticket. James says about 100-200 tickets are still available through the Christmas ball’s website, www.1940sball.com.

Correction: The article was corrected to state that all net proceeds are donated to charity. For more information, visit http://www.1940sball.com/Big_Band_Christmas_Ball/About_Us.html

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