Anything Goes: Six “Dirty” Years at Attack Theatre’s Dirty Ball

“Do you want to go to the Dirty Ball?”
“The what?”
“The Dirty Ball.”
“What’s a Dirty Ball?”
“I’m not sure, but I have two free tickets.”

Before 2009, I’d never heard of  Attack Theatre’s Dirty Ball. The only Pittsburgh theaters I knew about were in the Cultural District. I’d just moved back to the city that year, after a brief stint in southern Virginia, and was reconnecting with friends. One of them, Katie, invited me to the Dirty Ball.

It was a last-minute invite, I think. Checking the website to learn more, I saw: “Dress code: Anything Goes.” I found a dress at a consignment shop: a shimmery, glittery, shiny pink thing with spaghetti straps and a high-low hemline, a kind of homecoming-meets-Tequila-Willie’s outfit. (May the club rest in peace). When we arrived at the temporarily refurbished warehouse where the Ball was held, I better understood “Anything Goes.” My slightly  scandalous dress was pretty conservative by Dirty Ball standards. But I fell in love with Attack Theatre that year (cue background music). There were mini-performances every hour, and the company used dance, music, and multimedia in ways I’d never seen before. The dancers were as passionate as they were flexible. Under the artistic direction of  Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza, Attack Theatre performs in both traditional  and non-traditional spaces.


Dancers do their routines in several different light boxes across the warehouse party floor. photo: Jonathan Greene

Dancers do their routines in several different light boxes across the warehouse party floor.
photo: Jonathan Greene

Here’s what I learned as a Dirty Ball Virgin (I wore a button indicating my status):

1) It’s an annual event.
2) The performers are a crazy talented bunch, right here in our own backyard.
3) The evening includes dance performances, drinks, light food, a DJ, and the best people-watching ever.
4) Anything Goes really means ANYTHING GOES. People were in evening gowns, and some wore very little. One man came clad in a kilt, and he owned it!
5) Some males rock heels better than I do.
6) And I plan to go back next year, and the year after that, and…

My first Dirty Ball also included the  Velvet Lounge (an upcharge), where I found scantily clad dancers in scaffolding. With shorter lines, a wider variety of liquor, and leopard print pillows, the Lounge was the perfect place to end the evening.

The crowd is loving The Dirty Ball. photo: Jonathan Greene

The crowd is loving The Dirty Ball.
photo: Jonathan Greene

Katie and I made a pact that night; we would go the following year, free tickets or not. The general admission price is reasonable when you consider what you’re getting: some amazing performances, drinks, food, and a whole lot of fun. So when the 2010 Ball rolled around, we bought tickets. That year I paid more attention to the performances, but still did my people watching: Pleather was a big trend that year, and I was a little more daring, decked out in a lime green, ruched strapless number with the same high-low hemline (only shorter). I also wore black thigh-high stockings, black peep toe heels, and a contrasting string of pearls. Instead of the Velvet Lounge, though, we played air hockey via What the Puck 5000. I also made sure I caught the final performance: a tribute to Dirty Dancing. Oh. My. Gosh.

Should You Stay (at home) or Should You Go?

Katie and I have turned the Dirty Ball into an annual event, and others friends have joined us through the years. We’ve had a Dirty Ball Virgin in our group each year, and I’m happy to say there will be one this year as well. If you’re thinking about becoming one but aren’t sure it’s your cup of tea, here are some questions to help you decide:

  • Am I a fan of Dirty Dancing?
  • Do I want to know what “Anything Goes” really means?
  • Do I like Yuengling beer and/or Clique vodka?
  • Am I interested in dressing up in something completely different from my normal attire?
  • Do I like food trucks?
  • Can I remember the last time I went to the South Side?
  • Do I really want to know what 3D Twister is all about? (hint: you do)

If you answered yes to any of these, chances are the Dirty Ball is for you. Then the next question becomes: Which ticket should you buy?

That depends on your deepest, darkest desires (well, not really). But there are three tiers: General Admission ($60); Velvet Lounge ($150); and Dirty Donor Reception ($250).

Choose wisely, or as your status and/or wallet will allow. A general admission ticket is perfectly fine, although there are those who swear by the Velvet Lounge. It’s tempting, and if you have the means, I’d recommend it. If you’re a socialite (or at least want to feel like one), go for the Dirty Donor Reception ticket. This gets you in to a pre-party happy hour with better wine, better food, and more intimate Attack Theatre performances before we Dirty Masses show up at 8 p.m.

You’re sold on the idea. So what do you wear?

That’s the point of this: anything goes. If you want to wear an evening gown, go for it. If you want to dress up like a ballerina (there was a white and black swan in 2011), go for it. If you want to make a skirt out of bananas (seriously, I saw it in 2011), put glitter in your beard, or simply look like Hugh Hefner, then do it. I can almost guarantee nobody else will be dressed like you.

What else can you expect?

A little bit of everything. There are different games to play each year, from 2010’s What the Puck 5000 air hockey to 2011’s Choose Your Adventure mad-lib storytelling. In 2012 and 2013, it was 3D Twister (it’s exactly what it sounds like). You can expect beer, wine, liquor, and light fare. (Food trucks are around, but not included in the ticket price.) You will see periodic performances by the award-winning Attack Theatre, and you can expect to see some pretty interesting (read: awesome) outfits.

You also get a button. I’m excited to see what mine says for Dirty Ball #6.

When I asked Tom Hughes, Attack Theatre’s Marketing and Special Events Extraordinaire, for some  teasers about this year’s Ball, he was tight-lipped. All I got was: Robots vs. Pirates! So if you’re struggling with what to wear, use it for inspiration. Maybe C-3PO with a Pirates ball cap. (Man, now I wish I’d kept that to myself. You’re welcome.) Dance beats will be provided by TITLE TOWN Soul & Funk Party

Where to buy tickets? Here. Normally, the Ball sells out beforehand, so the sooner the better.

Other things you should know?

Saturday, April 12, 2014
8 p.m. – midnight
Jane Street Warehouse (near UPMC South Side)
2120 Jane St., South Side

South Side parking isn’t exactly ideal, so if you can’t get there early enough to find a super secret spot, this Baller suggests public transportation, a taxi, Lyft, or limo service. Bike racks (and a shoe check) are also available if you live on the flats or close enough by.

From this soon to be six-timer to you, the newest Dirty Virgin: Welcome to the party! You’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.


Photos courtesy of Thomas Hughes, Attack Theatre



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Jessica Dayhoff

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