The Marty Gear Memorial Masquerade Rules and Guidelines

This page contains the rules for the competition, registration and sign-in process, and what to expect during the show (logistics). We are still tweaking some specifications, so watch this space for changes.

If you have any questions or concerns at the con, the Masquerade Registration and tech staff can help you at the convention. Before the convention, please email with any questions.

What Where When
Masquerade Pre-registration ONLINE Now until midnight May 23, 2024
Masquerade In-Person Registration Masquerade Table in the 5th floor atrium Friday: 2 pm – 8 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 12 pm
Tech Rehearsal* Main Ballroom Saturday 1 pm – 5 pm
Masquerade Check-in Homeland (Masquerade Green Room) Saturday 6 – 6:30 pm
Balticon Masquerade Main Ballroom Saturday 8 pm

*Tech Rehearsal is required for ALL entrants. Sign up for a time slot during Masquerade registration.

Introduction, Narration, and Dialog

Narration script and music must be pre-recorded and submitted when you register. See the Registration section below for details on providing your audio file. If you would like the MC to read your introduction, please submit it by the tech rehearsal (18-point double-spaced printouts are preferred) or email in advance. Contestants will not have access to a live microphone during the Masquerade.

Masquerade Green Room

The Masquerade Green Room (Homeland) will be open for the contestants starting at 6 pm,  Saturday. This is where you will sign in, get your appearance number, store your props, and be judged for workmanship, if you choose. 

Some snacks and drinks will be provided. However, we recommend that you eat dinner before checking in. It’s a long night.

We will have a video feed of the live Masquerade. A group of experienced “Den Moms/Dads” will be on hand to assist you with any problems and to keep an eye on your belongings if you need a last-minute bathroom visit.

Workmanship Judging

In addition to being judged on presentation, contestants may decide to be judged for the workmanship of their costume. Workmanship judges provide kind, valuable feedback and suggestions for making your next costume even better.

Photography and Videography

NO flash photography or videography of contestants will be permitted while they are on stage. Professional photography will take place in the Guilford room starting at 6 pm. Fan Photography begins at 8 pm in the hallway to the left of the ballroom at you face it. A multi-camera video of the complete Masquerade will be created by the convention staff and DVDs will be for sale after the convention.

Code of Conduct and COVID Guidance

All entrants must agree to the BSFS Code of Conduct to be part of the Balticon Masquerade.

The COVID-19 guidance is stated in the COVID-19 Safety Policy page.


The goal of these rules is to facilitate a fair and safe experience for all contestants.

  1. The Marty Gear Memorial Masquerade (Masquerade) will be run according to the Costumers Guild “Division System”. The Division Qualifications for Balticon are not identical to those used for Worldcons. The purpose of having this system is so beginning costumers need not compete with an experienced winner unless they want to do so. We can all compete on our own level against our costuming peers. Contestants will be registered according to the following Divisions: Young Fan, Novice, Journeyman, Craftsman, and Master. The Balticon Division definitions are defined in the Divisions section below.
  2. All entrants, including all members of a group entry, must be members of the convention and will be required to show their badges in the Green Room.
  3. There will be no live microphones for the contestants’ use. You are not allowed to speak from the stage even without a microphone. The Registration section has instructions for providing a script or an audio file.
  4. The weapons policy of the con will be strictly adhered to. Weapons that are a part of the costume may be displayed only on stage and only in a safe manner. All weapons must be approved by the Masquerade Director before use. 
  5. Due to hotel fire regulations, no fire, open flame, flash paper/powder may be used. Electronic sealed flashes are permissible for use by the contestants.
  6. Nudity. Since you asked, our general feeling is that if you are comfortable with your skin, so are we…with certain reservations: “No costume” is no costume and won’t win any prizes. Our Judges are of all genders, and are artists, authors, or costumers. They will be judging costumes not bodies. There will be children present (also mundanes). If you feel that nudity is essential to your costume, please limit it to the Masquerade, and keep it covered in the public areas of the hotel.
  7. NO FLASH PICTURES WILL BE PERMITTED DURING THE MASQUERADE COMPETITION! Not only does flash photography interfere with the enjoyment of the show, it can cause injury to a contestant whose vision or concentration is affected by a flash of light during their presentation. An opportunity for photographing the costumes will be available at another time. 
  8. Each contestant may appear only once in the competition.
  9. Costumes presented as Not In Competition (NIC) will not be eligible for judging or awards, regardless of past history for that costume.
  10. Be on time for your call. If you have a good reason for wanting to go on early or late, please tell us when you register, and we will try to accommodate you. If you arrive after you have been called, you may not go on.
  11. Groups of from one to four contestants will be permitted a maximum of 60 seconds on stage. Groups of five or more will be permitted a maximum of 120 seconds. Short is better than long. Let your costume speak for itself. If you have any questions about the length of your presentation, please discuss with the Masquerade Director in advance.
  12. Contestants in costume must remain in the Green Room until they go on stage. Any contact with the Presentation Judges prior to the masquerade while a contestant is in costume may be grounds for disqualification of the entrant.
  13. You must be able to enter and leave the stage without help in order to appear. Our steps are six feet wide, one foot deep and eight inches high. We will have people available to steady you but not to lift or completely support you.
  14. TECH REHEARSAL: Everyone appearing on stage must participate in a tech rehearsal. This gives you practice being on stage and lets the Masquerade Team rehearse lighting, pronouncing your name, and other technical details. You can sign up for a rehearsal time slot when you register online or at con.
  15. The Masquerade Director and backstage staff will have full authority to eliminate anyone from the competition on the basis of taste, danger to the audience or other contestants, or for any other reason deemed sufficient.

Registration Process

You may register for the masquerade using the on-line form or register in-person at the convention.

On-line Registration

Pre-registration will be open until midnight Eastern time, May 23, 2024.

Masquerade Registration Form

In-Person Registration

Register in person at the Masquerade Table in the fifth-floor atrium.


Friday: 2 pm – 8 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 12 pm

If you are a part of a group costume, only one member of the group should register for the entire group, and the group will be given a single entrant number. We will, however, require the names and signatures of all members of the group. Remember, a group costume will compete at the division level of the highest member and will be judged as a group.

If you wish a special introduction, please have it typed, double spaced or printed clearly, and turn it in when you register. Alternatively, you may record your introduction as a MP3, WAV, and AIFF file on standard media (USB flash drive, SD card). Please allow time for the registration crew to scan your media for compatibility. Please turn it in at the time that you register. You can arrange to pick up your media after the Masquerade has concluded

What to Expect During the Masquerade

  1. The Masquerade event starts at 8 pm Saturday.
  2. The Masquerade Green Room is open for contestants at 6 pm. All entrants need to be checked in by 6:30 pm at the latest. Contestants in costume must remain in the Green Room until they go on stage. Be sure to eat dinner before you check in.
  3. We will have a video feed of the live Masquerade into the Green Room.
  4. Workmanship Judging will take place in the Green Room (optional). Workmanship judges provide kind, valuable feedback and suggestions for making your next costume even better.
  5. We will assemble contestants in small groups outside the ballroom and bring them on stage from there. You will remain in the Green Room until your group is gathered.
  6. The Young Fans, as a group, will appear first.
  7. If necessary, the staff reserves the right to change the order of appearance of any contestant.
  8. Contestants will go off stage to the fan photo area. You will make the photographers very happy if you arrive early and stay late enough for them to get pictures of you in your costume.
  9. After the photo area, contestants may use the reserved seating or return to the Green Room to view the rest of the Masquerade. This should minimize waiting time and maximum the number of people able to see the costumes. We will show the recording of the Masquerade in several locations later that evening.
  10. Once all entries have been presented, the judges will withdraw. There will be entertainment and other presentations while the judges are deliberating.
  11. Winners will be announced immediately after the intermission/judging break.
  12. The award certificates with the winners’ names lettered on them will be available on Sunday. If you must leave before the certificates are ready, they will be mailed to you

Skill Divisions

The Masquerade will be run on International Costumers’ Guild guidelines. The skill divisions were devised so that newer costumers are not competing against experienced costumers. All competition entries are eligible for the Best in Show award.

  • YOUNG FAN Any contestant under 13 years of age by the con. There will be two classes of award: Adult Made and Contestant Made.
  • NOVICE An individual who has won fewer than three major prizes* in costume competitions (other than as a “Young Fan”) at any convention. (General S/F or Specific Theme, e.g. Trek, Darkover)
  • JOURNEYMAN Has won at a con Masquerade previously, but does not qualify as: Young Fan, Novice, Craftsman, or Re-Creation as defined herein. In other words, a Journeyman has won at least three major prizes* as a Novice but less than three additional prizes in the Journeyman Division.
  • CRAFTSMAN An individual who has won three or more major prizes* above the Novice level at previous cons with 20 or more costume entries.
  • MASTER An individual who has won Master Status at the Worldcon and/or Costume Con level. Master is a division reserved for Worldclass Winners, and only if two or more Worldclass Masters are entered in a Balticon Masquerade will a Masters Division be used. A Worldclass Master has either won three times at Worldcons and/or Costume Cons, or has won a major prize* in the Master Division at these conventions.

Within the Divisions, costumes will be further judged as to whether they are Original or Re-Creation costumes. Original costumes are what the name implies, original in design with the maker while Re-Creation costumes are defined as follows: A costume copied directly or with minor modifications from a live-action or animated motion picture, a television production, a stage presentation, a comic book or strip, or a book cover. In short, from any source other than an original design, in which one or more views of the particular costume are shown, and the designer is not the maker.

A Novice may compete in the Novice, Journeyman, or Craftsman Divisions at their discretion; a Journeyman may compete in the Journeyman or Craftsman Divisions at their discretion; a Craftsman must compete as a Craftsman. A Master must compete in the Master Division if other Masters are entered, otherwise, they must compete in the Craftsman Division.

* Major prize is defined as: “Best —“, “Most —“, “Judges Choice”, “First Place —“, or “Second Place —“

Within the Divisions, the judges will be free to award as many or as few prizes as they wish.

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