Princesses of Louisville

Princesses of Louisville

by Amber Robinson and Michael Pfaff

Walt Disney World isn’t the only place you can meet Merida or Cinderella or Jasmine. A collection of Louisville performers are bringing the Disney princesses to life in and around Louisville. The Princesses of Louisville are a group of cosplayers who have taken cosplay up a notch by not only dressing as princesses, but performing as them at parties, events, and charity gatherings.

“Most people don’t get to go to Disney, so we bring the experience to them without the Disney cost,” said Monica Boes, co-founder of the Princesses of Louisville.

Monica had the idea to start Princesses of Louisville while being Merida at the Kentucky Renaissance Festival. She was approached by a parent who wanted to know if she did parties and she thought, “Why not?” She started doing a few parties to test the water.

Turns out, there are a lot of Disney princesses and demand for them at parties. Monica began seeing what other princess parties in Louisville were doing. She also started reaching out to other cosplayers, who, up until that point, were operating as individuals. She found numerous cosplayers willing to get involved. Together, they became the Princesses of Louisville.

One of the cosplayers she invited was Elaine Scharroo, who agreed that being a princess is far more than just cosplaying.

“It’s not as simple as getting dressed,” Elaine said. “You have to put your makeup on, make sure your wig is on right, and definitely make sure your outfit is cleaned and sanitized because children are sticky. You also have to know your character and be prepared to answer any question the children throw at you because children ask a lot of questions, like ‘Where’s Olaf?’ Boom. You have to have a response.”

Monica elaborated.

“You never know what children are going to ask, so you have to have to practice,” Monica said. “The moment you show up as Ariel, they’re going to ask, ‘How’d you get legs?’”

Even parents try to trip up the princesses, Monica said. The Princesses had to start doing research, diving into the lore of the Disney princesses, reading books, watching all the movies, and listening to all the soundtracks. The Princesses were suddenly performers.

Assembling all 13 Disney princesses, plus Prince Naveen, the Princesses of Louisville had their first big event at two Barnes and Nobles stores for a book reading and meet & greet with the kids. From there, they went to surprise a girl at her birthday party.

The event was great marketing for the group. Since then, they are constantly doing parties and make a point to go to the Kentucky Renaissance Festival each year. Beyond the typical events and parties, the Princesses of Louisville are very active with local charities. The Princesses make numerous visits to the Kosair Children’s Hospital to visit ailing children, who become cheered by the presence of some of their favorite Disney characters.

Despite the amount of preparation, costume building, and performance work, being a princess is rewarding, they said. For the Princesses, it’s not for the money; it’s for the kids.

“That first moment when the kids see you and their faces lights up and they get all excited because they can’t believe that their favorite Disney princesses are there for their birthday,” Monica said. “That’s what I live for, because that’s something that I never got as a little girl. My parents weren’t wealthy enough to afford a performer, let alone take me anywhere that had a performer like that.”

Monica said that she wanted every kid to have that experience. Both Monica and Elaine have found the Louisville is an incredible place to find people to help them bring that experience to the children around the city.

“Louisville is a pretty diverse city, so I think it’s good in that aspect for all of us to get a lot of different experiences out of it,” Elaine said. “Plus, the fact that we are a pretty diverse group ourselves and we’re a lot of fun, so it’s good to have us join such an eclectic city.”

In addition to parties and charity events, the Princesses of Louisville can also be found visiting local conventions. If you see them, make sure you say “Hello!” and perhaps, they will know where to find Olaf.

If you want to reach out to the Princesses of Louisville for a party, event, or charity work, you can find them on Facebook. Also, we spoke with Jenna Rae, aka Goldberry Cosplay, who is involved with the Princesses of Louisville in Episode 7 of the Nerd Louisville Podcast. She talked with us about cosplay, crafting costumes, the Princesses, and some other local cosplay groups, like Kentucky Heroes & Louisville Costumed Performers.

Featured Groups will be a regular part of Nerd Louisville news and articles. If you’d like your group to be featured, large or small, please contact us! Nerd Louisville brings together local nerds and empowers them to share their passion and foster community. Please consider donating to our cause using the button below.

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Featured Group: Bourbon State Smash

Featured Group: Bourbon State Smash

by Michael Pfaff; photographs provided by Bourbon State Smash, Michael Melhorn

Link v. Donkey Kong; Mario v. Pikachu; Samus v. Mega Man: only in Super Smash Bros

When many people think about Super Smash Bros., they think of it as a casual Nintendo fighting game played on a couch among close-knit friends. But, in addition to casual play, Super Smash Bros. has a competitive scene thriving throughout the nation.

In Louisville, Bourbon State Smash aims to fill a niche that not only speaks to competitive players, but also casual players looking to meet new friends to compete against or enter into the local competitive scene. Bourbon State Smash organizes tournament events in and around Louisville for Super Smash Bros. players. They hold monthly tournaments and every Tuesday they have an event at The Hideaway Saloon on Bardstown Road in the Highlands. The founders, Alex PardueCamber Griffin, and Jeremy Tyler are all Louisville natives who took it upon themselves to help develop the scene locally.

“I realized I loved this game and I wanted to play with more people,” Alex said.

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Bourbon State Smash’s first tournament; a handful of friends playing in Alex’s apartment.

Bourbon State Smash began casually enough in Alex’s living room, playing small tournaments with friends and friends of friends. But, after the first couple tournaments, attendance quickly grew beyond what could be hosted there. So, naturally, instead of not permitting new players, they decided to expand it and create Bourbon State Smash.

“Our first tournament was like 12 players,” Alex said. “Then, it was just a swarm. We got too big. So, we reached out to Brandy, the owner of Something 2 Do, and she agreed to help us out.”

With a larger space at Something 2 Do, the tournaments expanded rapidly. The group went from doing brackets by hand and spray-painting objects gold for prizes to teaching themselves tournament programming, establishing cash prizes, and investing hundreds of dollars into better equipment and promotion.

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A more recent Bourbon State Smash tournament.

It worked. Through bold flyers around town and word-of-mouth from fans, Bourbon State Smash events are now bringing in dozens of attendees. Alex and Camber humbly attribute their success to help the community has given them and the focus on what they call a “casually competitive” atmosphere at the events.

“We’ve had people show up and say they had so much fun because it wasn’t as competitive as some other tournaments they’ve been too,” Alex said.

Camber elaborated:

“We consider ourselves an incubator for casual players. We had one guy show up and barely knew how to play the game. But, he kept showing up and getting better and better. He began making friends, ranking, and before long was really invested in the scene.”

This emphasis on community and friendship radiates through Alex and Camber. They said it really is more about breaking through cliques and building relationships with the other players. And, the way their events are structured, they really emphasize building those relationships. Even if you lose the tournament, there is a section dedicated toward friendly games where players can play casually and teach other. Furthermore, other activities, like costume contests keep people entertained. 

“Our crowd goes for fun,” Camber said. “If they get knocked out, they’ll stay and play all day. We had a six year old kid who came with his parents and actually beat someone. It was a friendly match and they were playing the same character, teaching each other. That’s what we want.”

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Contestants in a Bourbon State Smash costume contest.

The entry fees for the tournaments are modest ($3-7) and the majority of that goes to paying the venue owner and the prize pool (or, in the case of the Hideaway events, shots that go to the winners of games so they get drunker the more they win). Alex and Camber said they are fine with not making money off all their effort and time put into the group.

“It is just rewarding throwing a tournament and seeing how much fun everyone has,” Camber said.

Alex said the community is what motivates them to continue doing more. In the future, Bourbon State Smash is looking to expand under the moniker, Bourbon State Gaming, which focuses on other games’, like Starcraft and Street Fighter, tournaments. In addition to the tournaments, social connectivity using YouTube and Twitch for Let’s Plays, recordings of the tournaments, and funny videos is a goal for Alex and Camber.

Bourbon State Smash’s last tournament of the year is tomorrow at Something 2 Do. Each tournament has a theme and this one is Wanted: Luigi where certain players will have Luigi hats and if you beat them you can score bounties. It’s $7 to compete and if you bring your own setup, you get $1 off the entry fee. If you’re new to the scene, go talk to Alex or Camber. They want you to show up and feel comfortable.

“When you come to the tournament, come talk to me,” Alex said. “We’ll hang out with you and coach you on how to get better. We’re really a bunch of friends.”

To find out more about Bourbon State Smash, visit Bourbon State Smash’s Facebook group, and join along with nearly 250 other members. Also, check out their YouTube and Twitch accounts for media.

Featured Groups will be a regular part of Nerd Louisville news and articles. If you’d like your group to be featured, large or small, please contact us

Featured Group: Games On Tap Louisville!

Featured Group: Games on Tap Louisville

by Michael Pfaff; photographs provided by Daniel Parish

The village was awakened by the shrill cries of a poor soul in the misty dawn. Another of us had been discovered mauled and torn bloody in the gloomy hours of morning. The werewolves had prowled through the village, selected their prey, and made sure they never got up from their sleep. It was up to us, the surviving villagers to figure out which among us was one of the beasts who had committed this murder and commit to putting them to death, even if we might be wrong about it. Luckily, this dreadful decision was just the game of Werewolf, the finale of a Wednesday night event at Louis’s “The Ton”, a comfortable bar in Butchertown, hosted by Games on Tap Louisville (though, more active on their Facebook page).

 

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Spencer Davis, co-founder of Games on Tap Louisville, teaches players a new game at Games on Tap.

Games on Tap Louisville is a recently formed board game meetup in Louisville, Ky. focusing on social games with laid-back adults at pubs around the city. The group was formed by Spencer Davis, Devon Briethart and Daniel Parish after the boardgame night at their homes began to grow beyond the space they had. While Devon was attending school in Denver, Devon and Spencer went to a few boardgame meetups with a similar moniker and were inspired by the atmosphere. With the growing crowd and burden on whoever was to host the game night, they decided to try their hand at a public event.

“We wanted a certain vibe, so we just contacted Louis’s and went from there,” Spencer said. “It’s a very non-competitive, low-key and relaxed vibe we’re going for. The atmosphere we want is if you’re playing a game and get up to go get a beer it’s not a big deal.”

Louis’s The Ton is a spacious bar nestled in the heart of Butchertown. When Games on Tap is there, the plush couches and chairs in the front are filled with gamers huddled over craft beer and tabletop games. Everyone seems to mingle and interact freely, and Spencer and Devon can be seen helping people find games or teaching someone a new game. Daniel lingers on the sidelines snapping photographs for their Facebook page and website, which contributes to the atmosphere they are trying to culture. The attention to detail and cultured atmosphere seems to be working, said Devon. She was surprised by the incredible turnout thus far.

And, the new mix of people coming to the events has invigorated the gameplay.

“Games can get stale if you play them with the same people over and over,” Spencer said.

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A game being played at Games on Tap.

While Games on Tap has set in place a certain vibe, they want you to show up if you’re in Louisville and into laid-back games. In fact, the first night of Games on Tap had bystanders and onlookers who were at the bar for a non-related birthday game who barely spoke English joining in on the gaming. The goal is to provide a feeling of people able to drop in and out of games. Games on Tap seeks to bring in all those folks who have an interest in boardgames but don’t have a venue to play or aren’t looking for highly complex, competitive gaming.

“There are islands of people who’ve gotten to play Catan and Ticket-to-Ride, and they loved it, but were soured along the way, so they have this apprehension about coming to something like this,” Spencer said.

At Games on Tap, as the night goes on – and the beer flows – it’s not long before you’re joining in games with people you’ve never met as if you’ve been playing together for years. Many of the games are social, fast games like Skull & Roses. But, as the events grow, more and more variety of games are being introduced and played.

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Spencer Davis leads a game of Werewolf at a Games on Tap event.

By the end of the night at Games on Tap, people are itching to play Werewolf. It’s a game that demands a large group of players and only a group like Games on Tap can provide. It’s an exciting ending to a night of beer and games with a group of relaxed, social nerds in Louisville.

We highly recommend if you are an experienced gamer looking for a relaxed atmosphere, or someone who is interested in experiencing boardgames with a group of folks who are incredibly friendly and inviting, check out Games on Tap Louisville. Go to their Facebook page, “like” them and sign up for an event.

Featured Groups will be a regular part of Nerd Louisville news and articles. If you’d like your group to be featured, large or small, please contact us