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In the wake of the Asheville Area Arts Council cancelling its annual color ball (its signature fundraising event for the past eight years), another group has stepped in to give Asheville a different colored ball. Well, accurately, it would be called an absence of color ball. Regardless, it’s a rogue art party gala: The Asheville Black Ball.

Taking up the annual colored ball theme, the Asheville Art Initiative will hold the rogue Black Ball.

The party will take up all three levels of the sprawling venue 11 Grove Street, home of Scandals, the Boiler Room, 11 on Grove and Getaways. And without getting too much into the politics of the event (for now), the newly-formed Asheville Art Initiative says its aim is to get support to other vital arts organizations: Proceeds will go to Arts2People, The Black Mountain College + Arts Center, the Artist’s Roundtable Scholarship Fund and the Flood gallery and Fine Arts Center (in the River Arts District).

What can one expect from this fledgling event? Fiery fun from the Bombs Away Cabaret, sideshow acts and accordions, performances from the gypsy collective Hellblinki Sextet, and Zombie Bazooka Patrol, Reverend Johnny Lemuria and Pleasure Saucer and more, and visual art from Brian Kirk, Jen Bowen, Mark Shifferstein, Rene Criegler and others.

“This will be an eclectic evening, and we hope people will turn out in their most imaginative black garb. Tap into your inner artist and come as your favorite dark fantasy,” says Lisa Ziemer of the Asheville Art Initiative in a release.

And really, they want you to flaunt: Prizes will be given for the Best Punk, Best Goth, Best Elegant, Best Retro, Best Fetish, Best Pirate and Best Creative Costuming during the fashion part of the event.

The party starts at 2 p.m. downtown, with the Grove House venues opening at 4 p.m. For more info and tickets, go to www.ashevilleblackball.com. Tickets start at $25 per venue, $50 for all the venues and $125 for a VIP pass.

Other news to note: The solstice marks the official beginning of summer, and the Summer Soulstice 2009 marks the official beginning of the sorts of multi-band, fest-type events that go with the season.

The Soulstice kicks off on Friday, June 19, and continues through Saturday, June 20, at Club Nashwa and Hookah Joe’s, which will set up an outdoor stage for the fun. The lineup includes psych-disco duo Boombox, Asheville’s own Afromotive, the Charlotte-based new folk ensemble The New Familiars and a whole bunch more. Ticket prices range from $10 for a night or day to $25 for the weekend. For more info, check out www.comagunmusic.com.

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