Nostalgia reigns at gangsters’ ball Reply

Guests at the Gangsters’ Ball guests enjoy performances by the Velvet Set.
Photograph by Bridget Kramer

by Bridget Kramer

A thousand flappers, mobsters and molls braved a rainy Sydney evening to attend the 5thAnnual Gangster’s Ball at the Metro Theatre. Costumes were reminiscent of 1920s-1950s mobster dress.  Guests were entertained by burlesque performances, circus acts, swing dancers and the Velvet Set, a swing band featuring the event’s creator, Graham Coupland.

Mr Coupland, a self-confessed “stickler for detail” created the Gangsters’ Ball in 2008 in response to the growing burlesque movement in Sydney. He said he wasn’t satisfied with what was available, and so began featuring burlesque performances in his band’s shows. This eventually developed into what Mr Coupland refers to as his “baby”, the Gangsters’ Ball.

“I don’t want to blow my own trumpet,” he said, “but the entertainment is top notch.” His band, the Velvet Set, played the hits of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald and more. Guest Lily Newbold said, “It’s like being there at the height of big bands and swing dance, only I get to document it all on my iPhone.”

“It’s not often you get to bust out the corsetry and see some good old-fashioned burlesque,” said guest Kate Scherr, “It’s such a one-of-a-kind event, I’m having the best time.”

The Gangsters’ Ball is held in Melbourne and Brisbane as well as Sydney, with 2012 marking the first time all three shows have been sell-out events. This year also marks the first time the show will travel abroad, with shows in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, USA. The Las Vegas show will take place on New Year’s Eve. Mr Coupland said, “I think Vegas will be the perfect market for it” due to the prominence of theatre and cabaret shows in the city. He hopes to take many of the Australian performers with him to perform in the show.

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