The Chicago TARDIS Masquerade Rules

The 2014 Chicago TARDIS Masquerade costume presentation is the showpiece of the Chicago TARDIS convention, and will take place in our main programming ballroom on Saturday evening at or around 7:30 PM. Here are the rules for entering the competition:


Entry Forms must be picked up one hour prior to the Mandatory Masquerade Meeting. They must be turned in during the meeting. Here’s a handy link to the forms, so you can download them and fill them in prior to the convention.

Participant Requirements

You must meet the following requirements in order to participate in the Chicago TARDIS 2014 Masquerade:

  • Every entrant must be a registered attendee of Chicago TARDIS. If the maker and presenter of the costume are different people, both must be attending members.
  • You (or a representative of your group) must attend the Pre-Masquerade Meeting. Failure to attend the meeting (without making previous arrangements with the Masquerade Director) can result in your entry being taken out of the Masquerade. More information on this important meeting can be found at the end of this section.
  • Purchased and rented costumes may not be submitted for judging of any type, with the following exception: costumes using less than 50% purchased parts may ask for judging, as long as those purchased elements are thoroughly disclosed to all judges (so that they may be discounted).
  • Practical applications of the above rule: if you got your costume off the web, either from a tailor (where many people get their Doctor costumes), or purchased all in thrift stores or eBay, you are ineligible for competition. If you bought your costume items and then altered them yourself to fit you (or your friend) better, you are still ineligible for competition unless the alteration significantly changes the original garment structure. It will be the Masquerade Director’s decision in that case whether the costume can compete.
  • If your costume doesn’t qualify for competition, we still welcome your presence on stage in the Exhibition category.
  • You may appear on stage once, in one costume.
  • You do not have to create a skit or presentation to go on stage. A simple catwalk (walk on, pause, turn, pause, walk off) works, too. Do whatever you feel the most comfortable with doing, as long as it’s PG-13 or cleaner.
  • Presentations have strict time limits. Solo entrants are limited to one minute. Two-six entrants (in one group) are limited to two minutes. A group of seven or more may have a bit of additional time providing they clear it with the Masquerade Director no later than the Pre-Masquerade Meeting. Any entry going beyond the stated time limit might be disqualified.
  • Entrants under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the entry form.

In addition, we present a short list of what we hope are obvious considerations, but never hurts repeating.

  • This is a family show, try to keep your costuming – and your skit – to a PG-13 rating.
  • No nudity. As the costuming-scene saying goes: No costume is NO costume!
  • No materials or effects that will leave a mess on stage or in the green room are allowed. No materials or effects that may ruin another entrant’s costume are allowed. (AKA the “no peanut butter!” rule. Yes, really.)
  • No live animals on stage, unless it’s a service animal. If you are going to being using one, inform the Masquerade Director as soon as possible.
  • No pyrotechnics or any other open flames are allowed.
  • Weapons must be peace-bonded when not on stage. If you plan on wielding your weapon as part of your presentation, you must advise the Masquerade Director of what exactly you plan on doing on stage at the Pre-Masquerade Meeting. You must also allow the Masquerade Director to inspect your weapon at the Pre-Masquerade Meeting. Failure to do so can result in disqualification. We’re talking safety here, not only of the entrant, but of the judges, the Director, the rest of the Masquerade staff, the other entrants, and the audience.

Contestant Meeting

The Pre-Masquerade Meeting will take place on Saturday Afternoon at 3:00 PM. This Meeting is Mandatory! If you are not at the meeting, or represented at the meeting, you will not be in the Masquerade. Each entry must be represented, unless prior arrangements have been made with the Masquerade Director. At the meeting, you will turn in your entry forms (if you haven’t already), along with any music or soundtrack CDs and documentation. The Masquerade staff will review your paperwork with you, and will inform you about Green Room times and procedures.

Why is this meeting mandatory? It benefits you to attend, because you will know where to be when for the Masquerade, and you will be assured that the Masquerade staff understands your requirements. It also benefits the Masquerade staff, because by meeting with you prior to the event, we will get a real sense of what you, and everyone else, will be doing. This sense will help in planning a running order and determining the final number of allowed entries.

Please note: if you miss the meeting, you might still get a chance to compete, depending how many entries there already are, how complicated your entry is, and how close to show time you express your desire to compete. Any post-meeting entry acceptances will be at the Masquerade Director’s discretion only.

Technical Concerns

The following are important technical concerns for entrants in the Masquerade.

  • There will be NO live microphones on the stage. All sound/music must be pre-recorded and brought by the entrants to the pre-masquerade meeting.
  • Music/soundtracks must be in WAV format only, provided on jump drive or CD-ROM. Also, bring 2 copies of the file (on two separate drives/discs), just in case.
  • Do not bring us a commercial CD with a note along the lines of “Track 3, 45 seconds in, please” because it will not be played. Please take the time to edit your music exactly how you want it and provide us a copy in WAV format.
  • Label the drive/disc with your real name, your entry name and a contact phone number (preferably a mobile number).
  • No video entries (i.e. entries accompanied by a video) will be allowed due to time constraints.
  • At the Pre-Masquerade Meeting, the Director will collect music/soundtracks from you. Since you’ve brought two copies, hang on to one, and give the other to the Director.
  • If you don’t have your own music, we will have Doctor Who and Torchwood themes to play for you, so that you’re not walking across the stage in silence. You really should bring your own music.
  • The MC will be willing and able to read out a short piece of commentary/description before and/or during your number, if you wish. There is a section for your script on the MC form. Please print legibly, or type up something ahead of time to attach to the MC form.
  • In the Green Room, the MC will check in and meet with all entrants to confirm how to pronounce your name, how you want to be introduced, etc.
  • If you have large props, or a costume that limits your mobility, please bring your own assistants to help you/it/them on and off the stage. Although we will have a limited number of backstage ninjas available, we cannot guarantee they will give you the same level of service your own dedicated crew would give. We want you to look your best on stage.

Skill Divisions and Judging

Everyone is encouraged to participate in both workmanship and presentation judging. After all, if you don’t enter, you won’t win! There are two types of judging: presentation and workmanship.

  • Presentation – evaluating how your costume is presented on the stage (not the quality of your performance).
  • Workmanship – is the ‘up close’ judging of a costumer’s technique. This occurs in the green room, before the show.

Participating in the “competitive” aspect of the masquerade is voluntary. You do not have to submit to either form of judging you don’t want to (in which case, select the “exhibition only” category on the entry form. But, as we say, if you don’t enter, you can’t win!

You will be asked to pick a class for your entry: novice, journeyman, master, exhibition-only or young fan.

Participating in the judging aspect of the Masquerade is purely voluntary. If you don’t like competing, or if your costume doesn’t actually qualify for competition, you are still welcome and encouraged to appear on stage as an Exhibition entry. Appearing on stage gives your outfit maximum exposure to the Chicago TARDIS attendees with minimal amounts of work.

If you’d like to compete, though, we have two kinds of judging and four classes of entry for you to choose from.

Our judges will evaluate you in two distinct areas:

  • Workmanship: Our workmanship judge will get up close and personal with your costume and props in the Green Room prior to the actual start of the Masquerade. You will have the opportunity to show off details that you’re particularly proud of, that won’t be that visible on stage, as well as chat with the judge about overall construction tricks and techniques used to create your costume. You can pass on Workmanship judging and still participate in Presentation judging. Workmanship Judging is voluntary.
  • Presentation: Our presentation judges will assess how you (or your model) and your costume appears on stage. Do you inhabit your character’s body when you move on stage? Is your presentation (no matter whether it’s a walk-through or a full-fledged skit) appropriate to the character and costume? The judges discuss these kinds of questions as they debate which entries deserve prizes.

To enter the Masquerade, you will need to specify which class of entry you are:

  • Novice: You have not won a major prize in any other Masquerade. (A “major prize” is an award that doesn’t involve the words “Honorable Mention” or “Judge’s Choice”) This category is ideal for first-time entrants, and for those with limited Masquerade experience. Professional costumers, however, can’t enter as a Novice, even if it’s a first Masquerade for him/her. (A professional costumer is a person who made more than 50% of his/her living in 2014 off of costuming.)
  • Journeyman: Anyone who has won Best Novice in presentation or workmanship at any regional SF Masquerade, previous Chicago TARDIS conventions, or Gallifrey One conventions; or anyone who has won more than four minor awards while competing as a Novice at any of the afore mentioned conventions.
  • Master: Anyone who has won Best Journeyman in presentation or workmanship at any regional SF Masquerade, previous Chicago TARDIS conventions, or Gallifrey One conventions; or anyone who has won more than four minor awards while competing as a Journeyman at any of the afore mentioned conventions. Professional costumers desiring to compete would enter this class.
  • Young Fan: Entrants no older than 16 who participated in the design and construction of their costumes. Children wearing costumes made by adults should enter one of the other catagories.
  • Exhibition: This category is for those entrants who either don’t want to compete or have a costume that doesn’t qualify for competition, but still want the chance to show off their costume in front of a large captive audience. Also, if you have competed in the costume at a previous Chicago TARDIS and your presentation is the same as the previous competition, you will be placed into this category.


Finally, we present some notes on how to compete well:

  • If you have a recreation costume (i.e. a costume that’s a recreation of a costume from another source, like pretty much anything worn by characters on tv, in film, on the web, in manga, in anime), you should bring along some form of documentation for the judges. This documentation doesn’t have to be elaborate: a few photos of the costume will suffice. The judges may not be familiar with the source costume. (This unfamiliarity can be especially true if you’re doing a minor character or a costume that only appeared in one episode, like, say Rose’s “Boom Town” gear or the Doctor’s football gear from “The Lodger.”) You may turn your documentation in with your entry forms and your music/soundtrack at the Pre-Masquerade Meeting.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Work on your presentation ahead of time, even if you’re just planning to walk across the stage. Run through the routine often, until you can do it in your sleep. You will feel much less nervous on stage if you know what you’re going to do. Make it a body memory!
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions, if there’s something in the rules that confuses you, or if you want to do something on stage you’re not sure you can do. It’s better to ask, than to assume. Use the email contact form elsewhere on the site to contact the Masquerade Director with your questions prior to the convention, or ask during the convention itself prior to (or at) the Pre-Masquerade Meeting.
  • The Masquerade Director has the right to eliminate any entry at his discretion prior to the masquerade.

We look forward to having you participate in the Chicago TARDIS Masquerade!