Last night, in the best 19th century tradition, I attended a masquerade ball. In the lead up to the ball, I asked the organiser and the frontman of one of the bands what they thought wearing a mask meant. They both said very similar things: the act of donning a mask liberates, it breaks down barriers of social acceptability, and it transforms the wearer in appearance and character. I find it fascinating that costume parties, with or without masks, are enjoying something of a resurgence in this age where we are used to baring all to the world on the internet. Deliberately choosing a character and becoming them seems a way to escape yourself, even if just for a few hours. Put on that feather boa or straw boater and you transform into someone different, perhaps someone with more confidence who dances like a star and then chats up that cute rooster in the corner. Someone who you couldn’t be in everyday life. I wonder if, as the internet becomes more (more!) pervasive, people will continue to need to escape in real life or if we will all have several characters who we are all the time anyway. Will the physical, transformative act of dressing up as someone else for a few hours still be so attractive?