Can there be a better night out than a Black Tie Ball? Ladies looking stunning in their best frocks, their smiles hiding any torture they are suffering from their back-of-the-closet party shoes and their should-have-gone-on-a-diet-sooner control underwear. Meanwhile the menfolk, who can throw it all on at the last minute, are checking their watches to see if the bar is open, before sauntering in looking effortlessly suave and ready for action.
The air is filled with optimism and the odd sprinkling of desperation. “You look gorgeous!” and “Don’t you scrub up well!” are shouted above the noise as you air-kiss your way around the room. You find your table and already seated are some new people to bond with. The meal is served, copious amounts of alcohol consumed, and if you’re still capable of standing after all that indulgence, it’s time to hit the dance floor to party the night away. What’s not to like?
We were all set for our first Spice Black Tie Ball of 2005 on Saturday 15th January. The Tsunami had struck in the Indian Ocean ravaging parts of Indonesia and Sumatra just a few weeks earlier and we wanted to make a contribution to help those affected by the devastation. So we struck upon a great idea – a raffle followed by a Slave Auction. Lots of people donated prizes, which included booze, chocolates, gift baskets and a VCR machine (remember those?) In total we raised £503 for the appeal, which is pretty impressive considering we had 150 people in the room that night.
We then moved onto the highlight of the evening – our Slave Auction. Six slaves volunteered to be ‘sold off’ to the highest bidder in exchange for various duties, some of which were more demeaning than others. One by one Dom introduced the slaves and their chosen services.
“Here’s Andy, he’s offering to give dance lessons to the highest bidder.”
A flurry of ladies put their hands up. I took note of the highest bidder and the amount offered allowing Dom to introduce the next slave. Only trouble is, Dom couldn’t pronounce Reiki, forcing him to improvise.
“Next up, it’s Jeanette, she’s offering a massage service.” You can imagine the reaction. A flood of hands went up, almost entirely male. Jeanette whispered something in Dom’s ear.
“Just to clarify” Dom shouted above the baying crowd, “This is for a Reiki massage.”
Then it was Phil’s turn. Phil was one of our most popular members. He was tall, dark and handsome with matinee idol good looks and impeccable manners. Women wanted to be with him and men wanted to be him. So when he volunteered to clean someone’s lounge in “a pinny and a smile” a bidding war ensued. It was a surreal scene, with women frantically outbidding each other, clambering to their feet as their voices became louder and more desperate to secure his services.
The atmosphere was electric. Everyone was on a high. Then Karen steps forward. Her offer was to clean someone’s kitchen from top to bottom. Now Karen could have put Kim and Aggie from ‘How Clean is Your House’ to shame. Dom was swept up with the euphoria. Full of energy and gleeful delight he announced to a room of 150 people:
“And if you’ve seen the state of my kitchen, you’ll know this is a phenomenal offer!”
Seriously, you could have heard a pin drop. A deathly hush filled the room, immediately followed by the sound of jaws hitting the floor. “Did he really just say that?” Dom’s mum was there that evening. “That’s the end of his night” she said.