Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our First Regency Ball

My husband and I have long enjoyed ballroom dancing. For the past several years, medical issues have kept me off the dance floor but recent improvements have allowed me the luxury of being able to take a turn around the parquets a time or two, as long as I pace myself and avoid too many rapid turns.

I recently wrote my very first Regency era novel and while researching dance history for a scene in the book, I came across a wonderful group of vintage dancers who provided not only a wealth of information and first hand experience, but also a new hobby that we are able to enjoy as a couple.

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers have been dancing the dances of the Civil War, la Belle Epoque, and the Ragtime Eras for nearly 30 years.  They sponsor workshops in dance technique and costuming and hold public events where you can join them to dance back in time

After a crash course  - offered by the Vintage Dance Lyceum - in Regency dance, we attended the 1812 Ball hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers.

The women's Regency silhouette features an empire waist.  The undergarments - a corset, chemise, and pantaloons - shape the body to fit the style of the period.

In creating the design for my gown, I wanted to stay as historically accurate as possible, which meant no zippers, no elastic, and all seams hand felled.  It was quite the sewing adventure.

I couldn't find a fabric that suited me and I found myself describing what I was looking for and comparing it to the embroidered sheers that had been our bedroom curtains.  Could I?   Should I?   I did!   I utilized the scalloped edge for the hem of both the gown and the sleeve ruffles.

When I wear this gown again for a future Regency event, I will remake the sash and arm bows with a stiffer fabric. Otherwise, it was pleased with the end result. 

The gown was accessorized with a hand-painted Limoges brooch, Battenburg lace fan, and satin elbow length gloves embellished with bows.

My husband, Stephen, is wearing black tails over a Marcus Regency shirt with lace edged jabot and cuffs. The cane and felt madhatter hat, also from Gentlemen's Emporium, and white gloves finish the ensemble.

The 1812 Ball was held at the Old Town Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, and we danced to music by the Vintage musical ensemble "Spare Parts" in the beautifully appointed vintage setting..

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