In complete honesty, I have never been quite fond of carnivals or the circus. My childhood saw the evolution of a somewhat irrational fear of clowns so my first thoughts of this summer’s International Lolita Day theme “Twilight Carnivale” did not initially illicit the warm fuzzy feelings I usually get when thinking about frilly meet ups and tasty tea time. I couldn’t help but laugh at my own silly reaction (I doubt there has ever been a scary clown print. Come on, Izzy!) and seconds later I was filled with excitement and eagerness to get a coordinate together for the event. It wouldn’t be until the very night before that I would settle for a chocolate-themed outfit centered around Angelic Pretty’s Wonder Party JSK.
The ticketed event was hosted by the Central Florida Lolita Society featuring Truly Darling Boutique at The Event Factory in Tampa, Florida. Every guest was presented with a small gift bag, raffle/carnival games tickets, and an adorable plush hamster key chain before entering. To say that the venue felt like stepping into a fantastical land would be an understatement. Soft twinkling lights adorned decorative trees while a castle backdrop provided a gorgeous setting for pictures within the main tea party room.
Located in the main space, as well, was the sales booth showcasing second-hand lolita items provided by special guest vendor, Wunderwelt. VIP ticket holders were allowed into the venue twenty minutes early for first picks of the shop, but there were still plenty of items to peruse through once it opened to general ticket holders. Soon, the sales booth was teeming with impressively dressed lolitas trying to squish their petticoats past each other for a look at the frills. I managed to snatch exactly what I was hoping to find: a nice princess-sleeved blouse. One can never have enough blouses to fluff up a wardrobe.
As a lover of all things tea related, I am always in the mood for a good old-fashioned cup of tea accompanied by finger sandwiches and scones. However, I did not complain when I saw the unconventional yet deliciously inviting food that was being served. In accordance to the theme, carnival style fare such as mini hot-dogs and burgers, mac n’ cheese, popcorn, peanuts, and cotton candy made me feel like a kid trying every treat at a midway fair. Thankfully for the traditionalist part in me, pots of tea were all the same in attendance at each table.
Set up just outside the main room were carnival-style games where guests could win extra tickets for the raffle held just after tea. Attendees were given three carnival tickets at the start of the event which could be traded for a try at the games. “Popcorn bucket beer pong”, as many of us jokingly called it, was one where guests had three tries to get a ping-pong ball in the correct popcorn bucket containing an extra raffle ticket. Another game tested guest’s luck by having them choose the floating rubber duck with a specific number written on the bottom. My my favorite game, however, was “pin the bow on the gator mascot”. A very talented community member painted our Central Florida Lolita Society alligator-with-a-bow mascot and guests were asked to spin and blindly pin the bow on the gator. Certainly a fun sight, but my lack of coordination and clumsiness would have probably left me on the floor after a few spins. The raffle prizes were plentiful and ranged from cute stationary to OTKs, hair bows, brand novelty items, and even bags and dresses. A coordinate contest was also held and three lovely participants won their own set of gift for their spectacular outfits.
Definitely one of the more exciting aspects of the event came from the newest addition to Truly Darling’s original prints. My disdain for carnivals and circuses melted immediately when I saw how adorable their new Tiny Cat Circus print is. The series is very reminiscent of ring leader jackets with pretty gold trimming on the bodice and adorable circus cats adorning the skirt. The large bow on the side of the dress caught my attention as it brought such elegance to the dresses. Truly Darling had both the OP and JSK along with an enchantingly quirky moon-faced bag up for reserve at the event. The series is available for reserve on their website from June 3rd to June 24th. I will link their shop down below.
The three hour ILD event flew by and I didn’t want to say goodbye to my frilly friends. In the midst of negative attention that had recently befallen our community, I openly invited this time to catch up with friends and appreciate all the hard work done by so many members of our comm. There will always be moments of turmoil and drama, but at the end of it all we always seem to come back to what matters the most: friends doing what makes them happy and sharing that happiness with each other. It would be naive to think that everything will always be rainbows and lollipops, but I am ever grateful to have met and continue to meet so many great people through this shared hobby. I know how much trust means to so many members of our group and although I joined a mere two-and-a-half years ago, I have enjoyed my time spent with my fellow lolitas and wish to see this community continue to flourish.