Well, I thought our previous event at the venue was a blast – but this year it was even better!
After a year of preparations, marketing, meetings, sales, dealing with emergencies and unplanned changes, sewing and general organisational madness, the weekend finally arrived and it was amazing!
We had a subtheme of crinoline and huge majority of the ladies went for it 🙂 The size of the skirts meant we had to limit the amount of tickets, but at least we had space to move, to sit and to eat – although some of the dances were a bit squashed still – the first polonaise and the Spanish waltz were rather cosy and it was truly a miracle seeing all the big gowns come into play.
But let us start at the beginning….
As organizers, and to have everything under control, we arrived on the eve of the event, staying with a friend in a rented apartment on the Circus – very convenient as we could see the Assembly Rooms from our windows!
The morning was spent productively – I had some bonnets and shoes to decorate, and we also had a visitor – Sherri from Farthingale Historical Hats popped round with a stock of gloves and parasols, so we had a browse and made our purchases.
As always, the dance workshop took place first. The workshops are always a good idea as you familiarise yourself not only with the steps, but also with other people – and I was glad to see lots of folks from the previous ball – as well as many new faces. Covering some figures and a few dances at the workshop gave us more confidence at the ball, and accounted for a much more relaxed atmosphere.
Also, practising how to move in crinoline was essential ( a short movie on how to move in one is here), and many a lady used the workshop as an opportunity to wear her hoops and learn how to walk, sit and dance gracefully and without falling over. I usually stride, with long steps – so trying to adapt to small short ones with the crinoline, was a bit of a challenge!
People wore everyday clothing, often with just the hooped skirts, or full Victorian dress – no dress code for the workshop! I must say I loved my 1852 day dress – being linen/cotton mix it was light, and perfect for dancing. Eleanor had her 1858 cotton gown on for the occasion (btw, there will be a separate blog post on just the dresses, with many more pictures! :-))
After the workshop it was time to relax briefly, have some food – and then change into the evening clothes.
The first hour was arrivals, drinks and taking photos, in a nice relaxed atmosphere. Lucas set up a simple photography centre and was snapping portraits – the photos are available on Facebook, or in a high resolution on his website .
Generally, people relaxed, chatted and admired each other’s gowns – and let me tell you, there was lots to admire! As a professional historical costumier, and a rather strict one, I was blown away by the quality of the frockage. Many ladies made their own gowns, following the tutorials I posted here, some were hired, some commissions from either us or other dressmakers – but in short, the variety was amazing! just a few portraits below, again, you can see more on facebook in the link above..
The dancing commenced with a polonaise – we just about fitted in the ballroom!
And then, with a Spanish Waltz, the dancing commenced in earnest. We had waltzes, quadrilles, polkas, country dances – the whole lot . All not too complex and easy to follow, all fun, so people with even limited or no dancing experience could join in with no problems – and the relaxed atmosphere meant that any mistakes were met with applause and friendly laughter rather than scorn. In short, lots of fun!
And that’s the team who provided the the music – as before Alexis Bennett and his girls were superb. Sadly our favourite Dancemaster, Stuart Marsden cancelled just before the ball due to health reasons – but not before he found us a replacement, Jane Walton, who agreed to help us out! Don’t worry, folks, Stuart is recovering and is already booked for the 2017 ball 🙂
Before we knew it, the finger buffet was served, and yet again Searcy’s worked wonders – the food was amazing and plentiful!
Then it was time to pick up the pace and dance a bit more! I was unable to dance much, alas ( ankle tendinitis:-( ), but that meant I could enjoying watching the dances and take photos and videos :-). It also gave me a chance to chat more to the guests – it was lovely to finally put the faces to the names on the tickets, and great to see people from not only all around the UK, but also Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland and the USA! Looks like the ball is becoming a truly international event:-)
The last dance, a free waltz for all, sounded just before midnight – and like a flock of Cindrellas and princes Charming, the guests slowly disappeared to rest….. And to prepare for Sunday Breakfast, of course…. 🙂
Just like last year we have booked tables at the Pump Rooms for breakfast. In fact so many people booked that there was a bit of a drama, when it turned out that our table had already been utilised by other ball guests, but in the end it all turned out fine – and we had a stunning breakfast and some more photos….
Reinforced and revived by the food and excellent coffee, the parties broke up to do their own thing – some folks went for a walk, some were visiting parks and museums.
Our small party first went to the gardens for a short photo session…. where we were lucky to take our photo taken by a passing by photographer – so we have all three of us in one photo:-)
and then Lucas went mad with his own camera, clicking loads…
Then it was time for a carriage ride – we booked a private ride from Courtyard Carriages and went exploring Bath in style, stopping in places to take more photos
Next on the agenda was visiting the Fashion Museum, conveniently located in the Assembly rooms – we met up with friends and went exploring… followed by a collapse and coffee and cake in the apartment.
Then a nap – and drive back home, exhausted but happy!
And guess what – we are doing it all again next year!
The information is here , and the tickets are already on sale – in fact, 20% has already been sold! so I suppose I see you all back in Bath next year 🙂
Many thanks to all of you who bought tickets, came along and behaved impeccably, having a most splendid time – you were all fantastic! without you, the ball would not have taken place and would not have become a successful annual event – so here’s to you, our guests! 🙂