April 15, 2018

POP!

Neon-lit and over-the-top, The Eye Ball blows up the ’80s

Forget a red-carpet entrance. Guests at last night’s fifth-annual The Eye Ball got the backstage treatment, entering through a giant 13-foot-tall neon boom box, down a poster-plastered tunnel, and past stage rigging into a party orchestrated to make everyone feel like a razor-haired rock star.

Bubble gum-hued “splat” invitations—along with much of the party’s design—were created by Swoon, The Studio  and teased the night’s theme: irreverent ’80s fun, mixing and remixing references of Miami club hopping, mall rats, pop princesses, and glam rock. Bubble gum was writ large in the gigantic photo op that trapped guests inside its stretchy pink bands.

Memphis design furniture and painted objet d’art built by the set designers Planet Productions turned the ordinarily spacious, green-lawned private event space into a party scene out of Saved by the Bell. 

The more than 800 guests in attendance packed the raised neon dance floor and played rounds of vintage video games (Frogger, Donkey Kong, Galaga et al.) in the arcade designed by Nathan Johnson of GRO Floral and Event Design (Clearly, he works magic with more than just flowers.)

The menu spotlighted culinary crazes from the ’80s. Think sushi, pepperoni pizza, chicken nuggets (debuted in 1981), and a beef tartare nodding to the 1986-launched Cool Ranch Doritos. At the bar, jungle juice did flow, along with rum punches, Long Island iced teas, and a boozy orange cooler in a lunch box-friendly foil pouch. (Definitely not for kids.)

No detail of the party was left unconsidered, from the cassette tape-inspired bathrooms in floor-to-ceiling pink (even the toilet paper!) to the perfectly styled characters scattered throughout the crowd with Dallas-sized crimped hair and headphones. (Savvy guests who spotted the unmarked boxes walked home with merch: heat-reactive band tees and logo pins commemorating the night.) The slap bracelets that served as entry bands bore the night’s mantra: Just Wanna, Just Wanna, Just Wanna…

Have fun, of course. Sponsored by Headington Companies, proprietors of The Joule, The Eye Ball serves as the annual finale for Dallas Art Fair. “Each year The Eye Ball plays off the concept of perception and different ways of seeing art, fashion, and music,” says Jeny Bania, Headington Companies’ VP of PR and Brand Marketing who knows how to throw a mean party. “Ultimately it’s about having fun. While planning this year’s theme, I kept returning to how simple the idea is. Everyone is here for a good time, and the chorus of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” kept playing in my mind.”

All eyes were center stage for the night’s surprise performance by Morris Day and The Time. The ’80s soul-funk icons—and Prince’s long-time backing band—opened with an instrumental take on “Party Like It’s 1999,” followed by their hits “Jerk Out,” “The Bird,” and “Jungle Love.” Day was in rare form, pulling signature moves: checking himself in the mirror on stage, whilst keeping his eye on the clock. (“I’ve got to get—places to be!”)

As heart-shaped clouds floated into the night sky, breakdancers twisted and turned, local musician Zhora took over the DJ booth, and the dance party roared on. Girls having fun, indeed.