When I first joined RWAustralia, the cocktail party used to be called the Harlequin Meet the Authors cocktail party, and it was a quiet, elegant, fairly intimidating affair. A lot of people didn't attend. Those who did either watched the authors from a discreet distance, or were the authors. It wasn't really what you'd call a social mixer.
Then about twelve years ago, the conference was in an old historic hotel in Melbourne (my home town) and the organizer decided to make it a dress up affair — "Dress retro" we were told.
It was great — some came in gorgeous vintage outfits, some had made their own outfits, some simply wore a long scarf or a feather boa. (There's a funny story here from that first conference— about buying feather boas.) But it was fun and friendly and people talked so much more easily — the costumes were an icebreaker.
That first cocktail party, about a third of the attendees dressed up — these days it's getting on toward 80% or 90% but there's no pressure to dress up if you don't like it. It's the ice-breaker aspect that's important, not whether you're in costume or not.
We've had some fabulous themes in the past, and i have fond memories of some of the overseas guests who've joined in good-naturedly.
So this year the conference had the theme of "Diamonds" with the cocktail theme being the 50's. I'm not one for glamour, but I love Marilyn Monroe and her Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, and it occurred to me that Marilyn in her 50's might have let herself go, just a little bit... in pink jammies, dressing gown, rubber gloves, headscarf, and loads and loads of bling. Here's me with my friend Bron, who also managed to come to the party in a blonde wig and her jammies.
In fact there was a positive rash of Marilyns. Here's me with Young and Gorgeous Marilyn, from Harlequin Australia.
The queen (aka Jennifer Kloester) graced us with her extremely regal presence.
The Queen, the King and an old version of Marilyn
Some took pink to extremes and still managed to stay tasteful.
And the Marilyns continue...
Thanks Harlequin Australia and RWA for a fun night.
I'll post some more of the costume pics in a day or two — the non-Marilyn ones.
PS: Just had to add in another couple of pics — my friend Keziah Hill took a photo of my hands in the rubber gloves, covered in bling — and had it made into a post card which arrived in my post box today.