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September 24, 2009

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Aussies show how to have a ball

ONE of Shanghai's biggest nights on the social calendar attracted an unusual cast of characters, with a sumo wrestler, kinky policewomen, burlesque girls and even a wandering magician turning out for the AustCham ball.

Held at the Pudong Shangri-La's ballroom recently, the Australian Chamber of Commerce ball was a sell-out, attracting more than 680 people and raising in excess of 300,000 yuan (US$43,930) for charity.

Now in its 14th year, the Great Australian Ball has become a highlight each year for its imaginative theme and vibrant costumes.

This year was no exception, with the timely "boom and bust" theme inspiring a weird and wonderful array of costumes.

"The Australians are very creative with their costumes and every year it gets a little bit more outrageous. People really take it to the next level and it's great fun," says AustCham Executive Director Kate Pollitt.

This year AustCham has partnered with charity organization You Dao, which supports a number of local schools that provide education to the children of Shanghai's migrant workers.

Funds from the ball will help support Golden Year Kindergarten in Qingcun Town, Fengxian District, with 160 students.

Funds and support are provided through You Dao, which has a partnership agreement with the kindergarten.

"Basically we are helping migrant workers who can't afford to send their children to school, and the money raised will go toward scholarships to assist the children with their education," she says.

"We will also help with school and family outings and we are working very closely with the charity. We have also visited the local school and done a working bee there to help paint and clean up the school."

Chinatown, the soon to open burlesque club, provided the ball's entertainment, which included cabaret-style performances, a singer and Australian magician Mario The Almost Magnificent.

This year there were some standout winners in the best-dressed awards.

One of the more striking efforts was the "Tick, Tick Boom" table, where the women dressed as bright-orange wigged dynamite and the men as a SWAT team.

Damon Filipi won for his bear-market-inspired hobo and Dominca Darrington also won for her sumo wrestler costume. She was representing inflation and her husband, a far less rotund sumo wrestler, portrayed deflation.


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