Is this a “Ball” in the traditional sense, or just a fancy party?

The Ball is modeled after the party in the episode Shindig. You’ll be introduced by a caller and have time to interrogate the buffet. There will be a contra dance caller to help choreograph the dances, and you might even be insulted by a flock of useless young women. The traditional contra ballroom dancing is really more like a classy square dance than “Dancing With The Stars,” though if you feel the need to cut it up Bristol Palin style, there’ll certainly be time for that later in the evening.

If dancing is not your thing, have no fear. We will have some fun activities, too. There will be a cash bar available and after the Ball facade fades, we’ll start playing some modern music you can dance to like: Lawrence Welk and Mel Torme… that’s modern right? Kidding!

On a side note, even though this is in fact a Ball, we don’t recommend glass slippers unless they are treated to be shatter resistant and slip proof. Any lost slippers will be available to pick up at our Lost and Found following the event. To our knowledge, there are unlikely to be any princes in attendance.

How many people usually attend the Ball?
It’s a small event, averaging 100 to 150 attendees each year. The 2013 Arizona Browncoat Ball is set up for 150 with room to grow.  We aren’t guaranteeing any tickets will be available at the door, so get your tickets early.

Why are tickets available so soon? 
If you’re anything like me, the times I have money never seem to match up with when something cool is available. We hope that by giving you nearly a year to buy your tickets, you’ll have every opportunity to get in on the ball. Just think, you’ve got Christmas, tax refund season, maybe an annual bonus, and most likely a birthday between now and the ball. Perfect to get yourself ready for such a great event!

 What do I wear to the Ball?
Formal wear, ideally period themed, is appropriate. The most basic template for the Ball is the Firefly episode “Shindig”. A quick re-viewing of that episode should give you an idea of the Victorian era formal wear that most people will be emulating.

However, there’s no need to stop there. Firefly is a fantastically rich mix of the past and the future, opening up any number of styles for you to make your own. Oriental or a companion type dress is always fun for the Ball. Steampunk will inevitably be a popular choice, but you can feel free to take inspiration from anything from Pirates of the Caribbean to Tron, Little House On The Prairie to Gangnam Style. The only rule is to keep it classy and try to make sure that it is plausibly somewhere within the Firefly Universe.

Do I have to attend the entire event?
We’re offering two options for your enjoyment. The full weekend package is certainly the most rewarding with access to all the events and shwag. There’s also a Ball Only ticket. These options are designed to encourage locals to attend and save you some money if you need. While you’ll miss out on some of the socializing that is often the best part of the Browncoat Ball, we want everyone to have a chance to get what they want out of the event.

Is this a sci-fi convention?
Absolutely not. While there are a number of similarities, and the experience some of our committee have in planning conventions has been invaluable, this is in every way a social event. There are no panels, exhibit hall, vendors, or celebrity guests. It will, however, be a wonderful weekend to spend hanging out with your best friends, many of which you’ve never met.

Why does it cost so much?
We have kept the price as low as possible, but the price is dictated by the cost of the events. All of the activities planned for the weekend cost money; from transportation to the buffet at the Ball, the Browncoat Ball is significantly more expensive than you may think. That said, we’ve worked out a great deal with our hotel and are pursuing frugal options in the hopes of keeping our prices as low as possible. As a result, the 2013 registration is the lowest that they have been since the first ball in 2004. The Browncoat Ball is not-for profit and any significant remaining revenue will be donated toward Kids Need To Read and/or provided as seed money for the 2014 Browncoat Ball.

Why Phoenix?
The Browncoat Ball originated in Chicago where it was founded and has moved to a new part of the country every year with local groups presenting bids to get the Ball to come to their town. The responsibility of the event then passes to that local group. This year, the Arizona Browncoats won the bid thanks to the passion of our leader, Cindy Pickard, who has been to five of the past Browncoat Balls. We’re very excited to introduce you to our beautiful state.

Why October?
It’s really pretty simple. You do not want to come visit Phoenix in the Summer (which incidentally lasts from April through the end of September here in the Valley of the Sun), and there are too many holidays to contend with later in the year.

What will the weather be like?
It’s hard to predict, but the average temperatures for October 5th ranges from 70°F to 90°F.  It’s around 70°F at 7:00 AM and about 90°F at 4:00 PM.  It is rarely cooler than 63°F or above 96°F. The southwestern United States have a monsoon season between July and September, and it’s not impossible early October may offer some severe thunderstorm and even haboob activity. We will be following the weather closely and adjust our programming accordingly. However, early October is usually quite beautiful so you have nothing to worry about. 

Wait, what’s the name of the hotel again?

As of July, the name of the hotel is Phoenix Airport Plaza Hotel. The hotel is going through some renovations and ownership changes that have had the hotel in a bit of flux since our initial announcement. It may change again, but the location will not change and your reservations will not change. With the initial name change there was some confusion about this, but it turned out all was well. However if you’re concerned don’t hesitate to call the hotel. 

So if I’m flying in from [hometown] and making this a full on vacation. Is there anything else to do besides the ball?
The Browncoat Ball events take place between Friday night and Sunday morning, but if you’re flying in from far away and exotic lands (you know, like Michigan…), why stop there? Arizona is an extraordinary place, and it would be tragic to come here and never leave Phoenix. We wish we could get you to the Grand Canyon, Tombstone, Biosphere 2…. and countless other locations, but the time-space continuum just couldn’t handle all that in the few hours we have to work with on Saturday. The Hotel has offered us a great deal on rooms, and that deal extends to a couple days before and after the weekend, so why not come early or stay late, rent a car, and explore the wonderful things Arizona has to offer! Best of all, most of the best stuff can be done in a single day trip. Check our touristing page for more information on the stuff you can do.

Who did that amazing artwork on the top of the web page?
Jacob Charles Dietz did the artwork that we have used for our banner.  It’s called Serenity (Coming Storm).  He is a local artist from Scottsdale, Arizona.  You can check out his website at http://jacobcharlesdietz.com/site/ for other examples of his work.

Can I bring my kids?

The Browncoat Ball weekend is an event for adults. The standing rule for the Ball has been that children were simply not allowed, but we know there are children out there that enjoy the company of adults and delight in dressing up for a formal event. Therefore, it was decided this year that there will be no formal ban on children. 

However… parents should understand that there will be no programming tailored to children. The weekend events, including the actual Ball, are planned with grown ups in mind and will likely bore the average kid. Please consider carefully the maturity of your child before making plans to buy a ticket for him or her.

It is also important to note that there is no discounted child price. If your child is attending and participating in an event, they will need to have a full paid ticket. Babies are naturally the exception and will not be charged a ticket of their own, but again we ask that you use discretion so as not to detract from the enjoyment of the other guests. We ask that all children under 16 be accompanied by an adult at all times, and all minors must adhere to any applicable age-related laws (such as tobacco and alcohol). As stated in the Policies section, we will not be able to give any refunds even if it’s a problem with your child. We will not be offering child care, but if you need a babysitter, we have a list of options upon request.

Is help needed?
Definitely. We will need volunteers for a lot of things including planning, preparation, and logistics. Understand however that the Ball has a strict rule that all volunteers still have to pay for tickets if they are attending any of the events in order to make sure no one is getting a free ride at the expense of paying guests.

If you can volunteer, please contact us at bcb2013@azbrowncoats.org.

Should I be nervous traveling in Arizona due to its controversial immigration law, SB1070?
Political opinions aside, here are the facts about SB1070: The primary part of the law that draws controversy is the provision that given reasonable suspicion, a police officer may ask any non-citizen for paperwork proving that they are in the United States legally. This will usually occur during traffic stops or during a criminal investigation, and it is highly unlikely that you will run into any issues during your time attending the Ball. However, if you are a foreign citizen or are concerned about being profiled, you can avoid any unpleasantries by carrying a legal ID with you at all times, including if applicable a passport, green card, or resident card.