History of The Browncoat Ball

There are many types of conventions and get-togethers. Some revolve primarily around meeting celebrities, attending themed panels, getting early glimpses at industry projects, or browsing a dealer floor full of geek-related products.

At many of these conventions, meeting and getting to know your fellow fans is a side note that occurs in small doses between events or while waiting in long lines. However, it is these interactions with our fellow fans that truly make these conventions memorable.

The Browncoat Ball is the opposite of these conventions. Getting to know your fellow fans is the primary objective of the Browncoat Ball, and we strive for that with every activity, every ball, every year.

Click here for a photo gallery for the more visually inclined.
Click the year links below to transport yourself to that years’ website.

2004 – The Inaugural Browncoat Ball (BCB) was held in Chicago with great success. The Chicagoland Browncoats aimed to bring fans from around the world together to celebrate Firefly and each other. The vision for the Browncoat Ball was that it would be an affordable fan-run event to be held in a different city each year to maximize convenience and attendance.

2006 – The San Francisco Browncoats hosted the ball in 2006. The opulence and splendor of the weekend-long event drew in 150 Browncoat attendees from across the United States, Canada, and Australia. San Francisco benefited from their outstandingly rich Chinatown. They ate at the historic Empress of China on Friday night in their gorgeous ballroom with a view of Coit Tower. Ari did a fan dance with electric blue ostrich feather fans that had the wait staff stop dead in their tracks and take out their camera phones.  Saturday was a boat ride on the SF Bay and the Ball, at the Marine’s Memorial Hotel, wrapped things with a totally different feel.  The Ball was accompanied by the local favorite dance band: Bangers and Mash. That’s where the ballgowns and romance flourished. The weekend concluded Sunday with a walking tour of Chinatown during the Moon Festival. Crazy, hectic, exhilarating, it tops many folks for Ball memories.

2007 – The Pennsylvania Browncoats brought us together at the epicenter of the battle for independence – America’s.  Starting out the same as Shindig, with a quiet game of pool, crew drifted into town and relaxed in the pool hall, the Firefly suite, or town.  Saturday dawned with a variety of educational and extremely enjoyable tracks.  Starting with a walking tour of downtown/Chinatown crew were guided to the church from the Sixth Sense, the Liberty Bell, numerous famous sites and Chinatown.  An especially lucky tour got to dive into the real belly of Chinatown taking in such sites as a buddhist temple amid a completely legitimate business enterprise, the real Chinese markets and other in-the-know trivia.  Afterwards tracks left for the museums and city sectors of choice be it the Edgar Allen Poe house, Mutters museum, Franklin Institute Science museum, Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, or whatever parts of the city took your gaze.  The Ball took us on a celestial tour as crew stamped their passports at the many planets of the ’verse while meeting and mingling with a few hundred new friends.  After a few cocktails and a hearty meal the Bedlam Bards took to the stage to captivate the crowd – and to demand our Big Damn Trilogy!!  – followed by some dance callers in the classic style.  Sunday Philadelphia began the tradition of the Big Damn Breakfast because it was clear to see once you get to the Ball, you just don’t want to leave.

2008 – The Austin Browncoats took the reins to deliver a romping good time in the great Republic of Texas. They gathered, they danced, they shindigged the weekend away. A terrific time was had by all!

2009 – The Browncoat Ball was hosted by the PDX Browncoats in Portland, Oregon, also known as “The Rose City”. Portland was an ideal northwest location and the weekend was a huge success.

2010 – The southern hospitality of the Charlotte Browncoats in Charlotte, North Carolina was on display as Browncoats were entertained with music, clog dancing, a midnight pajama party, and a massive selection of raffle prizes! Friday afternoon hosted a Firefly inspired market and several classes and demonstrations in fencing, waltz instruction, how to knit a Jayne hat, civil war reenactment, plus a Whedon author panel.   Friday night was the Wash-o-suarus (dinosaur themed) luau with a live hawaiian band, team building game and karaoke. Later that night Susannah Ravenswing performed live original music inspired by Firefly.  Midnight heralded the pajama party. Saturday included activities such as lunch at a local tavern, entertainment by burlesque dancers, an outdoor park with a zipline, or an uptown tour/trolley museum visit. The Ball’s charms included a cocktail hour, photo sessions, NC clog dancers, a live celtic band, costume contest. Sunday finished with raffle prizes, words of wisdom and award certificates.

2011 – The next Ball was hosted by the New England Browncoats in Warwick, Rhode Island. Their fellow Firefly fans from far and wide came to visit the home of the original Browncoats and experience magic, mansions, music, and the fabulous Prop Museum!

2012 – The Albuquerque Browncoats hosted the Ball in New Mexico. Friday evening began with the Unification Day Renunciation Party with activities aplenty: belly dancing, leather-crafting, Tall Card, shooting gallery, music, and more! Saturdays adventure choices were a Tram ride to the top of the Sandia mountains, exploration of ancient Acoma Pueblo (“Sky City”) atop a majestic mesa, and crafting your own leather Jayne-style wristband. There was plenty of food and time to socialize with great music from the Bedlam Bards and Mar Ata. Special guest, Vern Gillum, the director of Shindig and Trash, was there. He shared a playful and moving letter from Joss Whedon to the Browncoat Ball and partied with us all weekend. Sunday’s big damn breakfast featured New Mexican breakfast burritos and home-cooked waffles.

2013 – The Arizona Browncoats hosted the Browncoat Ball in Phoenix with a BANG! The weekend kicked off with a reenactment of the Unification War via water guns at the pool. Over the evening the assembled Browncoats were entertained by Danu, belly dancers that used swords and fire, and Mikey Mason, who amused and delighted all. When the sun went down, a telescope was set up on the top floor of the parking lot for stargazing.  For those more interested in star-combat than gazing, computers were set up during the weekend to run the Artemis starship combat simulation. It was an absolute blast with 5-person bridge crews for 2 starships and lots of hostile aliens! Saturday dawned with a practice dance lesson; then on to the tracks: Rawhide a western town, Desert Belle a boat ride, Stratum Lasertag, Crafts at the hotel, and an Independent track for those that wanted to explore Phoenix by themselves. The afternoon was a great time for Saturday Sundaes serenaded by Mikey Mason.   The Ball opened to paper Firefly’s and a strings group who played throughout dinner.  Afterwards, callers directed the dancing for Contra/Old English dancing followed by the Bad Cactus Brass Band  for those who kept the dance momentum going.   Raffle prizes raised $1,000 for Kids Need To Read.   Sunday used the Hospitality Room to reminisce about the weekend and to say goodbyes – until next year.

2014 – The Greenville Browncoats took us back to the rim by hosting the Ball in a more natural setting.  Things began with murder as a Browncoat Murder Mystery followed some characters from the Heart of Gold episode.   In between solving the crime and meeting new friends, there were zip-line adventures, nature walks, nature rides, and a marketplace.  Staff at the Center took us into the black on a moonlit (only) nature walk, as she educated attendees on our other senses and the woods. Throughout the weekend crew were entertained by numerous dance performances including fire dancing, the fruity oaty dancers, can-can, a burlesque show, musical performances by Mikey Mason & Susannah Ravenswing, comedians, dueling, and Browncoat karaoke.  Friday night had a campfire reminiscent of Our Mrs. Reynolds but there were only smores and fireflies, no trick marriages.  Saturday saw the Ball retaining its frontier charm with a country buffet and a square dance caller.   While Sunday saw the assembled striking camp before heading into Greenville to hunt some mice, take in some shops, and grabbing one last chance to eat, drink and be merry together.

2015 – Browncoats took the beach – Virginia Beach, VA, to be specific. Some Browncoats relaxed with Inara’s Tea Ceremony on Friday while others escaped to the A.R.E. Spa with Inara & Book. Some played with Kaylee & River in the ocean, or went horseback riding with Simon along the surf. For a little adventure, Browncoats sneaked through the oceanfront on a mysterious quest to find Badger and secure their tickets to the Ball. In spare moments, some took to the hot tub, pool, or lounge, while others played Firefly-themed games or just have a drink and a chat in the mess. Saturday night featured a lavish oceanfront shindig where many interrogated the buffet thoroughly. Sunday’s breakfast by the sea was a send off for old friends and new.

2016 – Shindig Partners, in league with the mighty Utah Browncoats, hosted the Browncoat Ball in the high desert jewel of downtown Salt Lake City, against the backdrop of the gorgeous Wasatch Mountains. Attendees had the options of a train ride through a gorgeous mountain pass, or visiting the vistas of the highest peaks via tram. There were also “low key” options such as gaming, history, 5-star Sereni-Tea, or touring local landmarks. Saturday night featured the traditional banquet/ball with some good, old-fashioned misbehaving courtesy of the Utah Browncoats. The miscreants were brought to justice by cosplay versions of our Big Damn Heroes.