RECAP: Jump Back Ball 2023 ‘A Night on the High Seas’

Jump Back Ball, the annual benefit event hosted by Partners, the official young professionals group that raises funds to support the organization’s not-for-profit mission and educational programming, was held at Cleveland’s prized Playhouse Square this past Saturday, February 25.

Tasked with coming up with a unique theme every year, Partners chose ‘A Night On The High Seas’ for 2023. This writer is always a fan of all things pirates, ships, and treasure chests. Seemingly, so too were the 700+ attendees for this year’s ball.

In the KeyBank State Theatre main lobby, there was a giant sinking pirate ship with large octopus tentacles pulling it under. A huge pirate flag was draped over the balcony of the main stairs. The organizers obviously put in lots of effort (and labor) into the theming, which undoubtedly added to the ambiance of the night.

JBB is not a typical “come as you are” affair. Unconfirmed rumors (started by me) detailed that the few who showed up in jeans and a hoodie were forced to walk the plank. Folks gussied up in ball gowns and tuxedos were mingling with others dressed as mermaids, pirates (even famous ones, such as Captain Hook or Smee from the Peter Pan stories), or other maritime characters. I met a business owner dressed as a pirate and a lawyer sporting a mermaid outfit. No judgment here! It’s great to see well-to-do members of the Cleveland community let their guards down for an evening.

For early arrivers with VIP tickets, a duo performed songs on the lobby steps, strumming quiet tunes, allowing guests to mingle without being drowned out by the music! As the rest of the crowd shuffled in, Faction Cleveland, a popular local cover act entertained with songs that spanned almost any genre that one could imagine. (Although they did neglect sea shanties from their performance!) Later in the evening, attendees danced the night away to DJ Red-I, who did a fabulous job of keeping the party going.

For those feeling lucky, Roulette and other games of chance were available to place bets on (although payouts were in raffle tickets, likely per Ohio gaming laws). Still, the thrill of winning prizes, even if the game of chance prizes were another “chance” to win an actual prize, was not lost on the crowd.

For those wanting a visual memory of the night, a caricature station and photo booth (complete with props) were available for everyone’s enjoyment.

Even pirates get hungry! Hors d’oeuvres included crab cakes (this writer’s personal favorite) as well as pulled pork and meatballs, among a bounty of other selections. Of course, no Playhouse Square-hosted event can ever be complete without their signature soft pretzels. Three nautical-themed drinks, including one called “Shipwreck,” were served at the open bar. Despite the complimentary booze and high seas theme, this was a generally responsible crowd with no drunken sailors to speak of.

A swashbuckling good time was had by all the mates on board this good time ship.

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