Returning Heroes Ball 2017

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being present once again at the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers’ annual Returning Heroes Ball. It was a lovely evening full of dancing, admiring the well turned out ladies and gentleman, chatting…and lots of dish washing (that’s what happens behind the scenes at these things–someone has to do all of the dishes.)

Here are two very similar views of the ballroom. I thought I’d include both because you see different dresses in each one and that’s one of the things that I greatly enjoy about attending historical events!

I didn’t spend all my time watching, however. Here I am participating in a quadrille. I wore my most recently constructed mid-19th century dress, Eleanor. I was grateful that the only change I needed to make after the first wearing was shortening the hem one turn so I didn’t step on it while dancing.

I made my refreshing apron a few years ago, but since then others have joined me in my apron endeavors (they really are quite practical when doing dishes, filling punch bowls, and setting out refreshments!). Aprons in a row!

A Snowy Evening In The 1890s

In January, The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers hosted an 1890s weekend (the same weekend that included an ice skating party that I blogged about a few weeks ago). Despite some snow during the day and into the evening, people were not kept away and the ball on Saturday was packed with dancers. Please join me on a little jaunt back to a snowy evening in the 1890s.

Arriving at the ball in the snow. (Well, sort of… I actually arrived in modern clothes, got dressed in my 1893 ball gown, borrowed a friend’s fur cape to keep the snow off my silk and the cold off my chest, and went back outside to take staged “arriving” photos.)
The entrance hall’s view of the snow outside.
The beautiful main staircase to the upper floors. There were lots of lovely sitting areas and nooks throughout the venue.
There were also bookcases everywhere full of elegant hard cover books (my favorite!).
In the ballroom, couples danced round dances including waltzes and polkas.
What strikes me in this photograph are the black and white evening suits of the gentlemen. Everyone is nicely lined up to dance what I believe was the Opera Reel.

Videos are even more immersive than photos, and with this you can actually step into the ballroom that evening. Keep a look out for me partway through the video dancing a polka and then dancing a waltz at the end.

It became quite warm in the ballroom with all that dancing, so I stepped outside partway through to cool off and the snow had resumed in earnest!
People spread through the house during the a break in the dancing. Here we are part way up the main staircase. Aren’t we well set up for a photo?
And finally, being silly, because I blended very well with the curtains! Good night!

Regency Intensive Dance Weekend 2014 Wrap Up

As promised last post, here are a few pictures from the two balls at April’s Regency Intensive Dance Weekend. Hopefully, you remember my descriptions of this weekend as being full of amazing learning opportunities and lovely memories with amiable people. Indeed, both balls left me with a feeling, expressed by Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, of being at a very pleasant house party or private ball, though indeed these events are open to the public.

Dancers displaying their waltz at Saturday’s informal ball.

“It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy. — I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples.”

He smiled, and assured her that whatever she wished him to say should be said.

“Very well. — That reply will do for the present. — Perhaps by and by I may observe that private balls are much pleasanter than public ones. — But now we may be silent.”

From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, in Chapter Eighteen.

Looking into Sunday evening’s formal reception, which included a balcony for the musicians (see them in the mirror?).
The formal ball included lavish and delicious refreshments.
Taking a break from dancing to munch on some super yummy syllabub.

Indeed, we were dancing so often at the formal ball that we really didn’t get many pictures of the dancing in action, so you’ll just have to believe me when I express the elegance of the dancing and the ballroom scene.

You can read more about Sunday afternoon’s imaginary visit to Mansfield Park in this post and more about the new ball gown that I made for the Sunday evening ball in this post. You can read more about the entire weekend here, at Plaid Petticoats blog post about the weekend.

1860s Dance Weekend: Part II, Sunday

This is part two of a series of posts about a recent 1860s dance weekend hosted by The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. The first post, which was about the Saturday of the weekend can be viewed here. This post is about the second day, Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn’t take as many pictures of dancing on Sunday as we did on Saturday. We did, however, continue our tradition of taking lots of pictures of us not dancing, but doing other things. So you’ll just have to humor me during this post filled with a little bit of dancing and a larger proportion of other things.

Before I get started on pictures of dresses and dancing, I’m going to share a few pictures of the building the event was held in, so you can get a sense of the atmosphere. Think cold New England winter… blue sky and a cold breeze… no leaves left on the trees…

One of the lovely tall windows reflecting the slightly cloudy blue sky, with leafless branches joining the scene.
Looking through bare trees at the lovely windows of the hall.
I’m sort of cheating here. This pictures is from Saturday, when we were in a hall next door to the one pictured above. But I just loved the berries on the bare tree and the very New England style window and building behind them!

Now that you’ve got a sense of the venue, let’s proceed to the ball:

Sewing a friend into her dress. I include this because it is an excellent shot of my hair!

I tried to do something different than my usual 1860s style for this ball, and I must say that I like the results. The more you try out different hair styles, the easier they become! I’d brought my curling iron and I wanted to make use of it for this ball. (I have naturally curly hair, so it’s quite ironic when I use a curling iron. My curls are quite frizzy, a bit wild, and untamed rather than cork screw like, so the curling iron acts as a taming agent.) In the end I had two curls, one hanging on either side of my head. I wouldn’t do this for every ball, but it worked well with the amount of crazy bling I had and with the heavy quality of my dress.

See? Crazy borrowed bling! (The necklace is much more sparkly in person than in pictures!) I was quite dazzling, or blinding, depending on your perspective.

Anyway, in addition to the curls, I did my usual poofy side roll on either side of my center part. I tried to be imaginative in the back but ran out of time. It’s hard to remember now, but I’m pretty sure I braided the back section and made a bun  with the braid. Or perhaps I wrapped my braid around a bun that was made with the ends of the poofy side rolls. Either way, there was a bun and a braid. My Belle hair crescent was mounted over the result. I rather like that it was a little higher on my head than in previous wearings. It was a little more visible from the front.

As you can see, I wore Belle. She was my first historic dress, ever. I wore her more often when I first began vintage dancing a few years ago, but I got a little tired of wearing her and so she’s been living in my closet for over a year. She’s super heavy, which I remembered, but I hadn’t remembered that the weight of the skirt pushed my hoops into an awkward diagonal elliptical shape. I have a bum pad that fixes the problem, but since I’ve been wearing Evie so much and she doesn’t need it I’d forgotten to bring it! Oh well. It was exciting to bring Belle out again, and though I’m not the same size I was about 7 years ago when I made her, she still fits and is still stunning.

Here are some dancing shots from the ball:




After the ball we took some more not dancing photos. Our prop for the night was a rather short column. And so I present to you a series of column shots:






This is my end of the weekend “I’m tired” pose. I love how my tiers fan out and create an elongated effect. It’s quite regal! (The heavy fabric flowing across the floor reminds me of the image below of Sissi–Empress Elisabeth of Austria.)

1867 Sissi in famous pose with her dog ‘Shadow’ by Emil Rabending

Well, there you have it. An 1860s dance weekend. I do hope you enjoyed it!

1860s Dance Weekend: Part I, Saturday

December is going to be a whirlwind of HSF posts and posts about events, so I need to hurry up and get started by sharing pictures of an event that actually happened in November but which I haven’t shared pictures of yet. The event was a 1860s Intensive Dance Weekend, hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, featuring two days of dance classes, two evening balls, and a German (an after ball party of fun dance games). I’ve got lots of pictures, so I’m going to split this up into two posts. In today’s post, I’ll share pictures of the Saturday of the dance weekend and Part II will be pictures of the Sunday of the dance weekend.

Taking some photos before the ball.
I wore Evie. This is a nice photo of the bodice with recently added sleeve trim.
Plaid dresses!
Something exciting was being said, though I don’t remember what! This is good proof, though, that my Evie hair wreath does often take on a very green hue in contrast to the sometimes gold-ish brown that it looks in pictures.
In lines, dancing Le Tourbillion.
Dancing in a large circle. This is either Spanish Dance or Soldier’s Joy. I always get them confused since they start out similarly!
Lines of ladies and gentlemen dancing Gothic Dance.
Ladies passing under the “Gothic” arches!
Wondering what this odd scene is? This is one of the dance games in the German. You’ll have to forgive me for not remembering the names of them. In this one, a lady sat in the chair with a mirror and cloth. She could see the gentleman standing behind her in the mirror. She would wipe the mirror to dismiss them until she found one she wanted to dance with.
In this dance game, the lady presented one of the two gentlemen with a glass of “wine.” She then danced with the other gentleman.
For this dance game, the gentlemen were blindfolded (I was dancing as a gentleman…). We all stood in a circle with ladies in between gentlemen and then would begin to give hands, right then left, around the circle. Because the gentlemen were blindfolded the ladies had to be sure to catch their hands to keep them from wandering out of the circle. At the sound of a whistle, you would dance with the person whose hand you were holding. Something must have been mixed up, because two of us blindfolded “gentlemen” wound up dancing together, to the great amusement of all onlookers. Lucky for us we’re both proficient waltzers, and being blindfolded isn’t much of a challenge. People were quite impressed and amused.
Another dance game, with 5 each of ribbons, ladies, and gentlemen. Once the center of the ribbon was released each person found the person holding the other end of their ribbon and danced with them.
This dance game involves two people trying to capture one of the dancing couples in the sash. When they’ve caught someone they switch around so different people are the ones holding the sash. The people dancing have to try to dance away from capture.
It’s hard to see, but the couple with the plaid dress is holding a top hat. The object of this dance game is for the second couple to dance close enough to the couple with the top hat to drop a glove into it. When that happens then the couple with glove becomes the couple with the hat. Only dancing, not running, is allowed to elude the couple with the glove.

All in all a fun and energetic day and night of dancing, especially with the German that was directly after the ball. I hope you enjoyed these.