I hope that everyone’s weekend was as awesome as my own! On Saturday, T and I hosted a Master Mason’s Ball downtown at our Scottish Rite Center. From what I can gather, many balls and other formal dances have fallen out of favor, not only within the Masonic community, but also general society. I would encourage you to talk to your Worshipful Master about your Lodge having one, or encourage your Mason to host one during his time in the East.
From what I can find, there is no history of the Master’s Ball; I am not even sure that they happen in other jurisdictions. That being said, I can tell you a bit about it. The concept is very simple: everyone in the Lodge gets dressed up, and gets together to have a good time, and to honor the current and past Worshipful Masters of the Lodge, as well as any other dignitaries that may show up. It is a public event, so non-Masons are welcome as well. It’s more or less an excuse to get really dressed up, and have a great time. So, while I cannot tell you the universal way that Masons do the Master’s Ball (if Masons did anything universally I would be surprised), but I can tell you what we did for ours, and hope to inspire you to have your own.
Attire and Venue
Masons love to get dressed up, and I can see why. How many opportunities do you really get to do it in a year? I mean floor length dress or tuxedo, getting your hair done, etc. Maybe one or two for most people, and those are usually weddings. T decided early on that he wanted the attire to be semi-formal to formal. He wanted his attending officers to be in tuxes, and at least a jacket and tie for everyone else. I believe jacket and tie was the attire put on the flyer, and his officers were told privately to wear their tuxes. What we got was people wearing everything from jeans (a DeMolay who came last minute) to floor length ball gowns (myself) and everything in between. It would have made for a very awkward looking group photo. If you’re going to an event, and not sure if your attire is appropriate, ask someone who is putting on the event, or err on the side of overdressing.
Luckily for us, we live in a large metropolitan area, and have a beautiful Scottish Rite center down town. The entire venue is gorgeous- marble staircases, hardwood floors, they were even repainting a ceiling in a small sitting room with gold leaf! The ballroom we held the event in was no exception. The small amount of information gathering I was able to do lead me to the conclusion that Master’s Balls simply are not done anymore; which in my mind, is more reason to have one. This really gives you a lot of leeway as far as things like venue are concerned, because no one has any preconceived notion of what the ball has to be. While I would not recommend using your lodge, as it might not feel quite “special” enough, and may also not be big enough; your local Shrine center may have the perfect spot for your dance.
Although our Master’s Ball was only two days ago, we had begun preparing for it as soon as T became Worshipful Master. He knew it was something that he wanted to do, especially because his Lodge had not hosted one for six or seven years. Our Grand Lodge is very early; most are in the summer, while ours is in early February. We knew that we wanted to have tickets printed to sell by that time, and they were just barely done. As we all know, a good deal of drinking tends to go on at Grand Lodge after the business is all taken care of, and we used this to our advantage to sell more tickets. In addition to this, our large Masonic family in Omaha has a universal calendar sent out every month, and we were sure to add the ball as soon as we had a date set.
Although we booked the venue well in advance, and let them in on the plan, there was not much to do up until about two months before the event. Around June, T started reminding brothers that the Ball was coming up, how much tickets were, who to talk to, that kind of stuff. I created a poster that hung at the Shrine and other Masonic centers in the area. Some of the other lodge members and their wives took care of contacting the caterer (who was also a brother), those that would be setting up the tables and bar (a brother), taking care of appetizers, and other related items; while T got ahold of the DJ (you guessed it, a brother). When we got there the day of, all we really had to do was place the centerpieces, help the DJ get situated, set up the appetizers, and get ready ourselves.
The evening started, as many Masonic evenings do, at the bar. We opened the doors for cocktail hour (and a half) at 6pm. T and I had decided to invite many of our non-Masonic friends, and my family had come in from out of town as well. It was wonderful to see everyone socializing and getting along so well. As I said previously, we had a large range of attire, but really, the point of the evening was to be with our friends and family, and have a good time, so we were not about to turn anyone away (save for the confused man who showed up without his pants).
We had a nice dinner, catered by a brother, as I said previously. T had decided early on that it was simply better to just not give anyone a choice as far as the protein was concerned, and so, everyone had chicken and salmon. This did lead to some confusion, since it’s not normally done that way, so many people who called to buy their tickets still told us which one they wanted. Oh well.
After dinner, T took the time to thank everyone for coming, thank the families from the lodge who had put work into setting up the ball, and recognizing those who were Past Masters, not only of his Lodge, but also those who had come in from other area Lodges. We were lucky enough to have a few Grand Lodge officers there, including the Deputy Grand Master for our state (aka, the guy who is going to be Grand Master next year).
When that was all said and done, T did something I was not really expecting. He proposed. It was perfect really; I was in a floor length ball gown with his grandmother’s pearls, I had spent the money to get my hair and makeup done, every detail had been meticulously planned; all of our friends and both of our families were there. Not only did I look like a princess, but he made me feel like one too (and you always have!). So, guys, take note. 🙂
The rest of the evening, the whole evening, was very relaxed. Although all of us were in our formal attire, most everyone there knew each other, and so really it was just a fancy party with all of our friends. The ball continued late into the night, with about as much drinking and dancing as you might expect; a lot and, not quite as much.
If anyone’s Lodge hosts a Master’s Ball or something similar, I would love to hear about it. If yours does not, encourage your Mason or Worshipful Master to bring it up at a business meeting. While it is not profitable, and indeed, we operated ours at a loss, sometimes you just need to put on your fanciest outfit and have a nice dinner with your friends; it’s all about having fun!