The 2021 Rainbow Ball was cancelled, postponed and restarted all within hours of the Victorian government announcing the state's snap seven-day lockdown.
When the news broke, the North East Pride Collective held a two-hour meeting to work out how the two Rainbow Balls, organised to simultaneously occur in Benalla and Albury on Saturday, could go ahead.
After two years' planning it looked like the event would be cancelled, as it was overseen by Victoria's Gateway Health.
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"It was devastating," NEPC co-lead Archer Irving said.
"The situation was inevitable but uncontrollable.
"With the Victorian lockdown we knew the Benalla ball had to be cancelled, but it was a last-minute decision regarding the NSW ball.
"It came down to organisation guidelines, which came down to having to follow Victorian rules whether you were in NSW or Victoria."
Just as hopes of holding the event were almost extinguished, Albury Council stepped in to save the "biggest and queerest" youth event on the Border.
Miss Irving and NEPC co-lead Jai Butler said it was a "complete roller-coaster" of a day, but in the end the council and the Retro Youth Cafe saved the 2021 Rainbow Ball.
"Albury City was very adamant it happen," Mr Butler said.
"When the lockdown was announced our first reaction was to cancel both balls.
"But Albury City were adamant it go ahead; they took it, owned it and took all the liability and risk."
Although the lockdown resulted in a lot of last-minute changes, the event was worth it in the end, Miss Irving said.
"It was so much better that we could have hoped for considering the short notice," she said.
"We'd been planning this for two years now and in space 48 hours we had to pull it together, last minute."
The Benalla event moved to an online forum but still attracted upwards of 50 attendees and featured live performances from Melbourne drag queens.
Miss Irving said the idea for the event was sparked after her request to attend a debutante ball with a same-sex partner was met with a mix of uncertainty and homophobia.
The Rainbow Ball offered a chance for LGBTQ young people to feel included.
"It's really important because the LGBT community, being in a more regional area, there's not much here for us and certainly I'd say there are higher-level discrimination compared to say cities," Mr Butler said.
"Having events like this makes everyone feel safe, included and welcome.
"You get to have a bit of fun and be yourself for a night.
"A lot of people around the community hide their true self in day-to-day life."
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