We have a special treat for you. February is “Fantastic February” and we will be having some fantasy-themed posts, some great authors, and featuring some fantastic books. Come join the fun.
Last weekend was the annual Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball, which is part of the Riverside Dickens’ Festival.
Every year the hubby and I go. It’s a chance for us to actually go on a real date and hold hands and dance all night.
It’s also an excuse for me to dress up in a Victorian ball gown.
This year I didn’t make a new dress. I have two perfectly good gowns, the one I “made” last year and the I “made” the year before from two old prom dresses. The hubby thought I should wear the cream prom-dress one, which is the more steampunky one of the two.
Our usual group of friends didn’t make it this year, but another one of my friends came, which was fun.
It also meant I had no hotel room to get ready in so I had to get ready in the bathroom (I was *not* driving two hours in a corset and ball gown). Getting into a corset, a bustle, a petticoat, and a lace-up ball gown in a restroom stall isn’t very fun.
Because my dress was cream-colored and I wore my gold clockhand tiara, I got *a lot* of people asking me if I was a bride while I was getting ready. I told them I was Cinderella getting ready for the ball.
I did discover that I’d brought one white glove and one cream glove, both of different lengths, so I went without, even though it was a little unladylike.
It did bring forth the idea what might happen in a movie or a book where a young woman looses one glove and does everything one-handed, hiding the bare arm behind her back (you know, like when Jo March spent the ball with her back to the wall because of the patch on the back of her dress, only with gloves…)
The venue was different this year and instead of being in a lavish dancing hall, we were in a room at the convention center which lacked the same ambiance. Still, the ball was packed and so were the “observation seats.” People come just to watch the dancing and the pretty dresses (or, as the Hubby says, watch the parade floats go by.)
The dresses are always fabulous from period-correct custom dresses (down to the underpinnings) to girls in prom dresses. There were also bustle gowns, prairie dresses, several day dresses, and a few really amazing hats. There was also a couple where the wife made both the costumes and the fabric of his coat matched her dress. And of course, the king of Siam.
I do have to say I loved this blouse/skirt outfit. Why? Because it’s almost exactly what my character Noli wears in the opening scene of Innocent Darkness, only Noli’s doesn’t have a hoop skirt, and wears a leather apron on top. This sweet girl (whose name I didn’t get), even has Noli hair! (Only Noli doesn’t wear glasses). Even though she probably thought I was strange, she gladly posed for a picture.
Like a true Victorian Ball, it starts with couples being “announced” to the room. This is the first year we actually got there early enough to be announced. We’ve never come up with a persona. The Hubby decides that we’re “Lord and Lady Lazear from Paris, France,” since apparently that’s where the name came from (I didn’t know that.)
Everyone has dance cards and there’s live music. I ogle the pretty gowns and make the hubby waltz, polka, and do the occasional set dance. We did get to dance briefly with the Queen during one of the sets, which delighted the tot to no end. She’s to little to go, but she loves hearing about mommy going to the ball. The set dances are always so much fun, both to dance in and to watch. Some of them are very pretty (some are very long.) I think I need to invent a steampunk set dance — Airpirate’s Fancy anyone? I also have the urge to write a ball scene in the Innocent Darkness sequel.
I can’t wait for next year, only maybe this time I won’t forget my gloves.