As you may already know if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, the 1860s are my favorite period. I get super excited about them–especially the clothes! So you can imagine my absolute joy at being able to attend an 1860s ball during Newport Vintage Dance Week. But to make things even more amazingly wonderful, this particular ball was held in one of the most beautiful places we visited during the week! You can see pictures of last year’s 1860s Ochre Court Newport ball here, in an earlier post. In fact, Ochre Court is my favorite of any Newport venues I have ever entered, except maybe the Breakers… but we didn’t have a ball at the Breakers (because it is no longer open to the public, as far as I know), so for Newport 2012, Ochre Court was my top most favorite place!
Ochre Court was built in 1892 as a summer home for Ogden Goelet, a wealthy New York banker and developer, for $4.5 million. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, who also designed the Breakers, which is just down the street. In fact, Ochre Court is the 2nd largest Newport “cottage,” the Breakers being the largest. (All of this information came from the Newport Mansions website, which you can access by clicking the link at the beginning of the paragraph. It also has fantastic pictures, which you should check out if you’re at all interested!)
The neat thing about many of the balls at Newport is that multiple rooms on the same level of the mansions are open and available to us, and we are able to dance between rooms during the course of one dance!
Okay, this next bit takes a bit of explaining. Antonia expressed it very well in her post “Speed Virginia Reel at Ochre Court.” You can read the whole description by clicking the link, but here’s the short version: “The Virginia Reel is an interesting dance…there are always people who refuse to wait for the music and push the speed…Speed Virginia Reel doesn’t even try that hard, and instead strives to be insane. It was invented by teenagers a couple of months ago…and it doesn’t even pretend to be dancing to music.” Is your interest peaked?
I hope so, because it was some of the most fun we young people had at this particular ball! It included many sweeping hoop skirts showing scandalous views of ladies’ drawers as well as a slide and fall on her bottom by none other than me! Unfortauntely, there are no pictures of me actually on the floor, so you’ll have to take my word for it (and I’m sure my fellow dancers would back me up!). Lucky for me I had two factors in my favor such that I didn’t hurt myself at all: 1-I wear a pretty hefty bum pad with my 1860s clothes to help my hoop stay paralell to the floor (I’m pretty sure I landed on this, because the floor is marble, and the fall didn’t hurt) and 2-there was so much adrenaline going around that even if it did hurt I didn’t feel it…I remember lying on the floor thinking “Yikes, I am lying on the floor,” and then jumping up again and continuing the dance! This dance was so much fun I really couldn’t rule out very many pictures, so I do hope that you don’t mind seeing a lot of Speed Virginia Reel, the all new 1860s dance craze!
There was nothing sedate about this dance. What else is there to say? I have more fabulous pictures from the end of this event… but I think I’ll do a second installment post about this event to share them. So stay tuned!