Recap: Pink Ball 2009

I’ve been lazy about finishing the video from Pink Ball, but there’s really no excuse not to put up some stills from the video and explain.

Pink Ball is a big fundraiser gala; different from the run in that it’s a black tie event where people are supposed to come and spend massive amounts of money, eat exciting food, and be entertained. The run and the ball were very different beasts to plan. This year’s ball saw about 210 participants attending. We organized somewhere around 100 prizes, entertainment from Taiko group Gocoo (again, yes, they’re great), bands provided by Janica Sims of J-cast (she’s fabulous), and a “surprise” performance by magician Cyril. Everything ran very smoothly, so most people working (me included) got to enjoy a little of the entertainment. I have pictures of nearly everything, save for Cyril’s performance (My boss instructed me to slay anyone taking pictures during his act, to be honest).

I spent the morning at the office wrapping up a few loose ends and cleaning off my desk because Pink Ball was my last day. Francesca and I had to wait around for our programs to arrive (they had been stuck in customs, as you may have seen on my twitter feed from that day). A few more last minute packages came in, I had a few things to prepare, but then we were off to the hotel. By the time I arrived, most things were setup. My only job was to guard a box we had prepared with hundreds of thousands of yen for caterers, the band, etc. So I sat and filmed/took photos. These photos are almost all stills from what will eventually be in the YouTube video. Richard the Irish designer definitely caught me filming myself. Oops.

These are photos from setup. The registration table:

Silent auction (and the corner of the jaguar on display):

This is the multitude of gift bags we had prepared for the guests to take after the party ended. I think most of the attendees completely forgot to pick them up (thanks for the tasty drinks, Bacardi!).

This Jaguar was part of a live auction package. It was combined with a couple of Tokyo hotel stays. The winner would get to take this Jaguar for the weekend. Sounds fun and all, but where in Tokyo can you drive this car like it’s supposed to be driven?

Rehearsals for MCs, speeches, etc. all took place a few hours before the actual event. My boss spent most of his time in here looking very worried. He’s the one at the right of the stage looking like he’s breaking into a panicked run (he probably was).

The ballroom was completely ready when I arrived at around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. The Westin Tokyo (the hotel where the ball was held) did a really amazing job preparing everything.

The star room (opposite the ballroom) played host to a band and the open bar prior to the ballroom being opened. I didn’t spend much time in here.

Live auction item descriptions were setup for guests to peruse before the live auction itself.

We had a wide variety of silent auction items available; everything from these “luxury products” to services and gift certificates for tons of awesome, awesome places. I found myself questioning the “luxury” aspect of some of the “luxury products”, but as long as people bid on them, I had to keep my mouth shut.

My boss organized one of his makeup artist friends, Teddy Lim, to do hair and makeup for performers and for people getting portraits taken. He snuck Naoko and I into the lineup too (sorry it’s blurry, he was moving fast):

Once we established that everything was prepared (and guests started to arrive), we changed into our attire for the night and got to relax, amazingly. There were very few mishaps (that I knew about, anyway), and they were quickly and efficiently dealt with. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of the evening I got to experience.

I received a backhanded compliment from the guy from the diamonds company (“you look beautiful! I’m surprised!”), but Naoko assured me he meant well, though she could see how in English it does sound a little mean. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. A band played in the star room at the beginning of the night. We ushered everyone into the ballroom after about an hour, where Gocoo played, and their amazingly passionate leader, Kaoly, gave a speech. Gocoo and Tawoo worked with us on a number of events. A couple of their members are breast cancer survivors, so they really identified with the work RFTC was doing, and they were happy to help. Fantastic group. I can’t say enough good things about them.

Our MCs for the night, Jason and Janica, did a fabulous job. Both were bilingual, and Jason was so inadvertently hilarious I couldn’t help but like him. I heard him in the volunteer staff area saying “I’m worried my hair is too pointy!” When he’s not doing MC gigs, he is a cheerleader coach at a high school. Mmmhhmmmm. By the end of the night he was trying to give out dance lessons to drunk guests. Sheer magic, I tell you.

Mark Ferris (our auctioneer for the event) did a fantaaaastic job. I saw the video of the guy who did the auction last year, and it was over in about 10 minutes (there were about 10 items). This year’s guy was energetic, funny, and wasn’t afraid to harass guests into bidding. We had some really interesting prizes; trips to Beijing to stay at a summer palace, a stable tour from a sumo legend, and that Jaguar/hotel stay package I mentioned earlier. We also had a last minute donation of a helicopter ride to and from Narita airport. Crazy!

All in all, a fun, interesting event to attend. I didn’t really do much on the actual night. I was finally able to busy myself once everyone went home – taking everything down was a pretty quick and painless process. Taro, Naoko and I were due up at the top floor bar for the afterparty, but unfortunately when we finished at around 2 AM, the bar was closing down. Too bad. But it was yet another unforgettable experience.

I did try to sum up my feelings about the whole internship when I was alone in the volunteer room, but the sound is really, really horrible for some reason so I doubt I’ll put this bit in the video. But it was nice to have a bit of reflection about the experience. Quite the whirlwind.

I had some actual photos and some more video from the event, but I’m having a hard time finding them on my camera. I’m not sure what happened, but the only images I can find are from a couple of the ladies at the event and one of the jaguar. I’ll keep looking and see if I can find them and get some better quality photos up. Bummer.

As I mentioned, this was my last day of work. It was surreal and I still can’t believe the whole thing is done and over with. As some readers may know, I’m back in the states at the moment. I won’t lie; I didn’t want to come home. The last few months were like nothing I’ve ever done before, and the time I had was far too short. A lot of things changed in that small period of time, but I think ultimately they were changes for the better. Coming home has been a bit of a shock for me; so much about life here just doesn’t mesh with my personality anymore. Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad. I’m still not sure. But either way, I’ve made plans to return to Tokyo at the beginning of 2010 for a much longer-term stay.

I guess that about finishes up the posts about the internship. Wow, there it goes! It’s done and over with! It all feels like a blur right now, and I think in some ways it was a blur when I was working, too. I remember reading complaints from people about working occasional overtime in the states, and then I’d laugh to myself and look at a clock in the office that read 2:00 AM. Strangely enough, I really, really miss it. It was so easy to complain about not having enough sleep or not having enough time to do the things I want to do, but I found that I thrive on that sense of purpose. I need that pressure all the time to get up in the morning and motivate me to do things. Since I’ve been back I haven’t been the same. I’ve done nothing but apply to any and all jobs (including plenty of crappy seasonal ones around here) just so I’ll have something to do. It’s driving me crazy! Sure, watching TV shows and sleeping in is great to a certain extent, but I have to have something to do.

I’m working on securing employment in Tokyo for next year, and until then just hanging around at home with my family. Things could always be worse! For those who are interested, the blog will still be updated. My parents came to Japan for about a week and a half after my internship concluded, and I have tons of photos to ramble about. I’m also going to put up some “home for the holidays”-ish stuff. I have to find things to do! So keeping the blog updated is one way to go about it, I guess. I’ve tried to confine my snark and short non-blog-worthy musings to my Twitter feed, and may do an occasional blogtv show here and there (trying to convince my brother to join me). So I’m still around! YouTube will be updated with the same stuff that gets posted here, I think.

Thanks for reading about this experience. It was a life changer in many ways for me, and I can’t wait to get back.

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