Prior Attire Victorian Ball 2018, 28th April, Bath

 

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It was my pleasure, yet again, to organize the Victorian Ball in Bath – our 4th! This year  it was a little bit earlier, and so far the coldest spring event so far – all the dolmans, mantles, coats etc were getting some good use!

But let us start from the beginning…   Theme wise, we have continued to move  with the 19th century – we had a Crinoline theme in 2016, the First Bustle in 2017, so this time it was time for the sleek and frilly Natural Form……

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The tickets sold out fast – 5 months before the event! Always a huge relief for an organiser who knows that all the costs are covered, venue , musicians, insurance, caterers, accommodation, dance master etc all paid for and happy.

The few weeks before the ball were hectic, but we were ready! as were all the commissions I was making for this event and my own ballgown… ( there will be a separate post on the ballgown making…)

As always, to avoid the traffic we  arrived Friday night and had a lovely leisurely morning- a great breakfast at the hotel plus  a quick shoot of my tegown…

Then it was time to get dressed up and off we went to The Circus, where our friend Eleanor was holding a luncheon.

For starters we had a bit of a last minute shopping, as Sherri from Farthingale Historical Hats popped over with some wares….

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Shopping done, it was time to indulge in some food….

 

And we just had enough time to spare before the dance workshop to  get to Bath Fashion museum and see the newest exhibition ( it was its last day actually!) of the Royal Women.

Then it was time for the dance workshop.  our ilustrious dance maser, Stuart Marsden, didn’t waste much time and soon we were waltzing away and learninig the basic steps to the quadrilles. I had planned to spare my wony ankle and rest my feet, but alas, it wasnt to be – dancing was too  alluring, so i spent it twirlling away – and learinig how to dance with a long train, a good preparation before the night!.

 

All that dancing left us breathless and  soaked though with sweat – fortunately I had anticipated the problem and had brought with me several chemises, camisoles, 3 corsets and petticoats – so that for each occassion I had a fresh change…

A quick shower, a powernap,  and  dresingn up was in order – so that we could be at the venue well ahead of everybody, setting up and making sure all the venue staff as well as my guys are sorted, ready and happy.

And at 7 we opened the doors….. and the evening started….

I was greeting the guests on the door ( and checking the guest list/ tickets etc), and I must say, for most of the time, it felt like a private party – I knew most of the people, who have become our regulars, so it was like being surrounded by a group of friends! It was also lovely to see  the newcomers too – hopefully next year they will become the regulars 🙂

In the meantime, Lucas was snapping  portraits of the guests – a few random  collages below!

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And at 8, the dancing started, with a polonaise. A bit challenging to squeeze all 130 onto the floor at the same time ( the venue capacity for that room is about 280, but we limit the guests numbers because – well,  the big skirts…… :-))) plus traditional dancing is very different from modern styles!), The video is long, but you get a good look at all the guests!

Other dances followed – waltzes, country dances, quadrilles, polkas, a gallop (a surprising amount of people  joined freestyle polkas and gallops,  most of them , including me,  collapsing half way through, with a dozen of couples  with enviable stamina making it to the end…

 

Buffett provided a perfect opportunity to rest, relax, grab some food, drinks and prepare for the second part of the evening… More dancing followed, finishied off at 11.45 with a Flirtation finale.

My ever favourite dance, Waltz  Cotillion was included too. Such a charming piece!

Then carriages  were called, goodbyes said and  we all retired for the night……

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And in the morning – time to get to the Pump Rooms for a lavish breakfast and more photos.

 

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After that, people did their own thing – some went for walks, picnics or sighseeing, some had to head back home. We were invited to a private boat trip – a lovely idea, though a sunnier day would probably work better !

As an organizer , and historical costumier, I must say  I was impressed with the quality of dresses – again! There were some fantastic outfits around,  clearly showing the extent of work and preparation going into this event. It is also delightful to observe how much people’s skills have improved over the last few years – both in dresmaking and in dancing. This year the dancing was superb –  the dancemaster had to explain  the steps once, and people just did it! Which is amazing for a group of folks who are not professional or even recreational dancers – most of them, like me, do it once, maybe twice a year. But we now have done it for a few years, so people remember the figures and the dances  easily – and it showed! Hugely impressive!

And let us not forget our tallented musicians…. Alxis Bennett and his team, as always delivered a fautless performance…

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And so it is, done and dusted…

for another year at least!

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The next Ball, with the theme of the Second Bustle Style, is now announced and the tickets are on sale – you can see more about it here

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