Valentine’s Day this year will bring the beloved chocolate, roses and, for the fourth time in Lincoln, vampires. On Feb. 15, the 2020 Lincoln Vampire Ball will be held at the Cornhusker Marriott.
Vampire Ball includes a cocktail hour, dinner and a show and ends the night with a dance. Participants can sink their teeth into a three-course meal before the event or choose to solely attend the dance portion.
The grand event is put on by creator and organizer Rebeca Rose, along with nine others. For 10 years the group presented ZombieFest, a social event for locals to dress as decayed zombies while attending vendors and roaming the streets.
After ending ZombieFest, the group still wanted to host an event for others to join in spooky Halloween festivities throughout the year.
“Once you’re past a certain age — unless it’s a wedding — we don’t really have a good excuse to get together, dress up and go to a formal,” Rose said.
To get away from the gruesome zombies while keeping the undead theme alive, Rose and company took a more fang-friendly approach to the event.
“It just seemed like the perfect idea,” Rose said. “We thought vampires and Valentine's Day worked so well together.”
The group spends about seven solid months to plan the one-night event. Planning begins the week after the last event ends, so the team can book performers and receive feedback for improvement. Because many of the group members work at haunted houses, the planning ceases August through October.
“Every year, we do get a little bit bigger,” Rose said.
This year, the dinner will satiate around 130 vampires, and the dance will bring the total number of monsters to around 300. Vampire Ball is geared toward adults, welcoming both singles and couples.
“We wanted something that we could do around this time of the year where we didn’t have to have that significant other,” Rose said. “We actually have people that come completely stag and get to meet people at the event who are like them and share that common interest.”
This year’s event will have the typical partner dancing as well as social time for singles to meet one another.
“We had people that literally met at the zombie walk,” Rose said. “[They] ended up marrying years later and now have children.”
To help participants dive into the vampire persona, the group created four different clans based on what they believe to be the four vampire personalities. The Purists are the traditional, status quo vampires who enjoy living in the shadows in elegance. The Warrior clan focuses on the survival of the vampire race while refraining from politics. The Sympaths align with the well-known Cullen family from “Twilight.” This vegan clan believes humans and vampires can live coherently with one another and benefit each other. The final group is the New Order — they believe vampires are superior and should come out of hiding to take their rightful place ruling over the humans.
This year, the Purists are hosting Vampire Ball. The event will include dancers from The DelRay Ballroom, a local ballroom with open events and nightly dance lessons, as well as tunes from Great Plains Woodwind Quintet to highlight the Purists’ value of elegance.
Rose said this will be the final year of the Lincoln Vampire Ball as the coordinators are taking a break to focus on their daytime jobs, children and busy lives. However, they are determined to end on a high note. They’ve pulled out all the stops by draping the ballroom with black silk, carefully designing decor and crafting specialty drinks. The group even created profile cards with each of the four clans. From the cards, participants know their vampire name, the year they were turned into a vampire and further background information.
The group’s goal is to make this year a much more interactive event to make it feel more like a vampire ball than any other formal event at the Cornhusker Marriott.
“Our main goal this year is to give everybody one night to escape their reality,” Rose said. “Life can be so stressful to everyone, and we really just want one night where they can leave that all behind. They get to enter a make-believe world where they can be anybody and just have an amazing night.”
Rose maintained the Lincoln Vampire Ball has always been about reaching out to the community and providing something a little bit different for everyone to enjoy.
“[The Vampire Ball is] the chance to grab a little bit of that childhood,” Rose said. “As we get older, we lose that ability to make-believe, play with one another and role play.”
Dance tickets are available at the event door for $25 on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m at the Cornhusker Marriott.