The story is: I was at the Battersea Arts Centre to see Human Computer last night (babysimon, trishpiglet, and cipergoth, you should all go). It's in a kind of warehouse space, so it's not like the ladies' room was apparent. I asked at the door, and the gentleman there said, "You'll have to go to my colleague around the corner, and he will escort you."
Okay, fine, I figure, I'm heading into the darker depths of the warehouse and they have liability issues. I can handle this. So I go around the corner and ask the guard if he can take me to the loo.
"Sure, but you're going to have to put one of those on," he says, pointing at a row of masks.
Not hard hats, not gloves, not rubber clogs, not any kind of protective gear: we're talking Commedia Dell'Arte, big-nosed, Venetian carnival-type masks. To go to the bathroom.
Okay, well, I was game. I put on the mask and followed him to a big, metal door.
He pushed a button, cracked the door, then waved me through. I slipped in, he followed me and immediately shut the door behind me.
I was suddenly in a completely different environment, as if I had slipped through a portal into another universe. I was in an alcove near a stairwell, and a madman was thrashing around and moaning on the floor while masked folks in formal wear stared at him. Cement pillars disappeared into the gloom. My now-masked guide put his arm out and I grasped it tightly. We walked through a darkened room that had a continuous stream of faceless party-goers passing through it. In the distance, through another doorway, I could see trees. The moaning and disturbed mutterings faded behind me; ahead, I saw a well-lit doorway. I dashed in and dropped the bar behind me. Sweet normalcy!
Anyway, returning back across the hall was just as odd - I mean, I was aware that Masque of the Red Death was taking place next door, but being plunged into it that quickly was really - hard on the system, somehow. Can't wait to go back, but next time I'll make sure to put on my formalwear first.