Star Wars Charity Gala Dinner

by Nalini Haynes

A Star Wars Charity Gala Dinner was held on 23 October 2010 to mark thirty years since the release of the Empire Strikes Back.  Previously published in Dark Matter issue #2 with only a few of the photos.  Comment, DM or email me to request tagging or removal of photos.

The three major Star Wars clubs in Melbourne Australia, Star Walking, the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion, combined forces to celebrate the 30th birthday of the Empire Strikes Back by celebrating with a formal dinner and dance, providing entertainment and a costume parade for which there were prizes.

Upon arrival, people gathered in the foyer for predinner drinks before progression through the Legion’s blast doors into the dining room. In the near right corner there was a life size set of Han Solo in carbonite for a photo opportunity as well as the E-Web cannon from Hoth and a Dagobah swamp with Yoda and R2D2.

The menu was a collector’s item, promising all sorts of Star Wars related foods such as braised Tonton, presented with a Star Wars cover. The actual food served differed greatly from the menu; I guess there was a last minute menu change. It caused some confusion at the dinner table, with people looking for beetroot that wasn’t there to distinguish between the chicken and pork, for example. I found it to be quite amusing, but good company can make anything entertaining.

The entertainment provided was very professionally presented. Imagine three Twi’lek dancing girls performing Lady Marmalade. This led into a sequence following the adventure of an imperial officer who was trying to get a woman (any woman) to dance with him. He disposed of the competition every time but was still unsuccessful. Finally the officer brought in Darth Vader to kill his final competitor so the woman was unaware who was responsible. The officer and the woman dressed as Leia (when she recorded the message for Obi Wan in A New Hope) then took to the dance floor. They danced, and when the officer dipped his partner, her hood fell back to reveal – a very masculine face with loads of make up and a wig. This was all mimed and to music. Later I was told that there was an in-joke but in all honesty this was so well done, full of character and life, that I didn’t need to get the in-joke, which was that the two guys involved were the founding members of Star Walking Inc. There were other equally professional entertainment pieces.

An auction raised money for TLC. Anything from memorabilia to the table lamps to a guest portrait in a comic were auctioned off. Joe Carroney designed the image for the souvenir ticket for the night. A larger print was then raffled off to help raise money. Amy was the happy recipient of the print. A few prints were auctioned off that had been donated by Star Wars artists Brian Rood and Joe Carroney, both of whom are based in the USA.

Happy birthday Empire Video messages were shown from Peter Meyhew (Chewie), Billy Dee Williams (Lando), Lucasfilm’s Steve Sansweet and many of the Clone Wars animated series actors. These were clearly event specific as specific clubs and Melbourne were mentioned in the video.

Best overall costume went to Mike Laizans with jokes made about an unfortunate growth. His ‘growth’ was an ‘Ion cannon’, known around the world by Geek boys every where as the nipple gun. A (genuinely) pregnant Amidala (Tracy Minet) won a prize for the most authentic costume recreation (for 5 months’ preparation) although she isn’t having twins. Claire Kelsall was the Aayla Secura, who won ‘most accurate Star Wars recreation’. Kerry Jordan was awarded ‘best female costume’ for an original Battlestar Galactica costume. And the best male costume went to a 7 foot tall corporate wookie (a suit with head, hands and feet of a wookie) by Bradley Bristow-Stagg. Best presentation went to Ventress.

Also visible below are a twi’lek, an Imperial secretary, a few wookies and a few jedi. There were a number of other awesome costumes not pictured. Photos can be found on various websites and Facebook.

People took to the dance floor with enthusiasm, and a team of storm troopers assisted the DJ to some hilarity.

I believe a good time was had by all at the dinner. I am looking forward to the commemorative dinner for Return of the Jedi. Over $3,500 was raised on the night for TLC.