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, … Continue reading
A long overdue post on a rather splendid ball we attended in London, in December. The Buttercup Ball was organized by Stuart Marsden ( the dance master for our Victorian ball last year – and this year’s edition too!) … Continue reading
Amazing memories from the evening – and not only evening, the whole weekend was a whirl of activities, pretty frocks and splendid food, all in even more splendid company!
We started on Saturday afternoon arriving in Bath a tad later than expected ( the traffic on the slip road was very bad and many of us were stuck there – in fact, so many that we were considering a picnic on the roadside….), but unpacked, changed and walked over to the Crescent for a few relaxing hours of picnicking…. The weather was perfect, food lovely, and as a perk we got to witness the balloon take off…. and of course we took photos….
The next day saw us making last minute preparations, strolling around the town and slowly getting ready,,,
The workshop started at 3 – and we practiced our quadrilles, lancers and waltzes for good 90 minutes – the practice was fun, but also cane in handy at the ball – you not only know the basics of the dances, but you recognize the people, so you are able to relax in a more familiar environment. our Dance master, Stuart Marsden, kindly provided Carnet de Ball tickets – beautifully made, and very practical – at the end of the practice people were making arrangements which dances they were to dance with who – really cuts on the chaos on finding a partner in the evening!
We will be using them next year as well, an excellent idea!.
After the practice there was time to go and have a cuppa and a rest ( and for us organizers to get the photographers, musicians etc set up and ready), and then time to change into the evening’s finery….
Then it was time! The doors opened at & and the guests started to arrive, dazzling us with their lovely creations. Drinks, chatting and photos made for a relaxed atmosphere – and since almost all the ball participants had been at the practice, people relaxed and chatted with their old and new dance partners. Traditionally, we started with a polonaise… It was a bit crowded, once all the people filled the Grand Ballroom, but Stuart managed to direct the dance nicely ! And from then on, it was all dancing….. Spanish waltz was great to get everybody relaxed as you change partners a lot and get to know people, and then it was the amazing Lancers, Quadrilles and Waltzes galore…. My personal favourite was the Cotillion waltz – simple, yet amazingly romantic, danced the the sweet notes of the waltz from the Merry Widow. Dimmed lights, romantic music, swaying on the dance floor in flowing silky gown – breathtaking. The buffet break arrived just in time to rest our weary feet and get some sustenance for more dancing. And food, provided by Searcy’s was glorious – beautifully presented, abundant ( and there was lots left!) and yummy – I must admit loved the desserts particularly… Then more dancing followed – with a few spontaneous waltzing breaks when folks just kicked their shoes off and took to whirling Viennese waltz at a moment notice ( our own Sissy here was the main culprit – though quite a lot removed their shoes at that point, myself included…). The evening ended with a Flirtation finale – lots of fun! And all that fun was mostly due to the utterly amazing musicians – Alexis Bennett and the Liberty Belles, and our talented Dance Master, Stuart Marsden ( yes, the same one who has worked with BBC on Poldark, and many other projects…). The event would not have been the success it was without theses guys – so a huge thank you! And while all the dancing was taking place, our photographers, Mockford Photography, were busy taking photos…. And did I not mention that there were some spectacular frocks and very dashing gentlemen around?
Needless to say, by the end of it I could hardly walk ( need better shoes for next year….). but somehow I made it to the hotel, and although exhausted, I was still buzzing with the excitement – the night was so much better than I had hoped for! there was just enough time to have a mini after party for the staff ( amazing how many people you can squeeze into a single Travelodge bedroom) and then it was time for sleep. And about 4 hours later we were up again and getting ready for our breakfast at the Pump Rooms….. The yummy breakfast ( and live music too!) was followed bu a short wander around town and some photos…. Then it was time to go home and tend the very sore feet…. Altogether, I must say the event fr surpassed my expectations. Music was delightful, fool glorious, venue splendid and the people – well, let me just say that you were all such a friendly and polite bunch of folks! Everybody was relaxed and yet on their best behaviour – and that makes such a difference! it was also a good call to go for historical rather than an eclectic affair like the previous one – since most of the dances were called, the dance floor was always busy, only clearing up a bit at the end, as the pure exhaustion took over ( it was quite an exercise , especially the few more energetic dances…). So thank you all, staff and guests alike for making it such a wonderful occasion! Also, many thanks to all the people who sent their photos:-) And, guess what – we are having another Ball next year! The venue and caterers have already been booked and the tickets are on sale ( early bird prices valid till September), so put the date in your diary – 7th May. We have the same set of musicians and Stuart booked too – and next year we have an optional dress sub theme – Crinoline. We are already working on different offers for the ticket holders ( discounted rates from dressmakers and product suppliers, or, for those who make stuff themselves, special offers on corset, crinoline and Victorian patterns and kits from one of our providers too). You can follow the news on the facebook pages:
The event per se – Victorian Ball 2016
Page : Prior Attire Victorian Ball
Tickets and more info here – Victorian ball tickets
and the previous ball Spectacular!
Join us for a night of passionate waltzes, swift polkas, stately polonaises and quadrilles, a night of elegance, in lovely surroundings , with great company, lovely music and superb food – yes, the ball is happening!
Many of you were asking us about organizing another ball following the Spectacular! ball – but since last year we had to deal with the post fire issues, there was no time for organizing another event.This year however is looking much better and so I gave in – and the ball is now on…. Since the Regency balls are held there regularly, and a Georgian one is also held in Bath thins march ( and yes, we are going:-) ), we thought Victorian theme would work nicely!
The Venue – beautiful Assembly Rooms, Bath… those who have been know what an amazing location it is, when we visited last autumn, participating in the Regency ball, we were enchanted by the venue… spacious, elegant and timeless – perfect for the theme! WE will be using either the Ballroom or the Tea room – depending on the numbers, set up etc. you can see more detail on the website – Here
Catering – by Searcy’s
A light buffet will be served half way through – and the menu is mouthwatering!
Beef burgers with caramelised onion relish
Cod and chips with mushy peas
Potato rosti with sour cream & chives
West Country chicken liver parfait with Somerset apple jam.
Skewer of buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomato and roasted aubergine
Mini lemon & raspberry tarts
Chocolate shots with clotted cream
There will be a cash bar serving drinks, just in case all that dancing makes you thirsty 🙂
door open at 7 -drinks, photography and socialising
8pm. dancing commences
9.15pm Break for buffet and drinks
10pm dancing continues till 11.30
12.00 Good night…. 🙂
There will be a dance workshop during the day, where we will have a go at a few dances, practicing our moves before the ball later on. Our Dance Master on the day will be Stuart Marsden- those of you who watched the re-creation of the Pride and Predjudice Ball will no doubt recogine him! Stuart is an accomplished teacher and specializes in period dances, working with various companies including BBC –
He was also partnering Lucy Worsley in their lovely demo of Victorian dance – a part of the BBC Dancing Cheek to cheek programme – episode 2:-)
Stuart will not only share his knowledge with us during the practice – he will be the one calling the dances in the evening too. You can see the details on his website
Faster and slower dances will feature ( waltzes, polkas, polonaise) and no partner is required – ladies can dance with other ladies if needs be, as most dances are danced in sets, and partners are swapped on regular basis :-). no previous experience necessary!
The workshop will take place in the Assemply Rooms, – starting from 3pm on the 24th May and will last for approximately 90 minutes…
Workshop dress code – you can come dressed in Victorian daywear, or modern attire – comfy shoes a must:-)
For the workshop we will be using recorded music, for the event we have private musicians hired as well:-)
Ball Dress Code
Well, Victorian! fully fledged Victorian evening toilettes are welcome, but modern renditions and steampunk’d versions are acceptable, as long as there is no nudity and the skirts don’t show too much ankle….
For those of you who are making their own attire, there is an inspiration board on Pinterest with a few ideas, and if you search this blog you will see a few post on making Victorian girly garb, step by step:-)
If you are commissioning your outfit, there are a few recommended suppliers:
1. Prior Attire – well, us, of course…. Bespoke and off the peg, including corsetry and underpinnings. We now have only a couple of slots left before the ball, otherwise fully booked till June.http://www.priorattire.co.uk/
2. Wyte Phantom – lovely corsetry and gowns, again, fairly booked but Jen still has a few slots left! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyte-Phantom/119904928081954?fref=ts
3. Dressing History – Serena provides lovely accessories and bespoke dressmaking as well – http://www.dressinghistory.co.uk/#!shop/cfvg
4. Prometheus Gearing – http://www.prometheusgearing.co.uk/ great menswear!
5. Gentlemen’s Emporium – Ready made, american, ( so expect to pay the custom duty charge) but great coats, waistcoats etc, at a very accessible price. Men’s items good, ladies – not so much, more of a fantasy – but still well made.http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/mens_victorian_clothing.p…
6. Cloak’d and Dagger’d – both men’s and ladies wear –http://www.cloakedanddaggered.com/menu/19th-century/
7. Meredith Towne – http://www.meridithtowne.co.uk/
Do not despair if you don’t have anything suitable – modern evening ( black tie) attire will serve you well!
Please note – although I would love to have just people in the highest quality authentic Victorian gear, I am also realistic – so the focus of the ball is having a great time, and not a ‘who’s got the prettiest/most authentic/ silkiest etc frock competition’. Enjoy the dances, the food and the experience, but refrain from costume snarks, please! 😉
Just as before, the lads from Mockford Photography will be joining us again – so if you want a high quality picture of you in your best rags, the prints will be available on the night:-) The service proved to be very popular last time, and I believe the boys will be no less busy than last time:-)
Since it is the Bank Holiday weekend and the ball is on Sunday, it look like many folk will be coming down to Bath for the whole weekend.
There are numerous tourist attractions to keep people occupied for a week at least, and a variety of things to see – from the amazing Fashion Museum, Roman Baths ( more info here), Jane Austen centre, carriage rides, lush gardens, parks, etc… The shops are full of unusual and high quality items, and the antique shops can entrance treasure hunters for hours.
On top of that we plan to have a little informal Victorian picnic on Saturday – the location will be most likely in the Royal Victoria park. Everybody is welcome to join us, Victorian day dress encouraged but not required…
Now there is also talk of doing Monday breakfast Victorian style – probably in the elegant Pump Rooms…. details on our fb page!
The details of the ball and the picnic are posted on our page and the event, and the sites are updated with the recent information, including accommodation, picnic etc. Each month there is a draw amongst the ticket holders for a free workshop session – we already have 3 winners, and by the time we close the box office there will be 3 more! 🙂
The tickets are available from the website – currently we have sold just over a half, so there is still a fair amount to go – but going swiftly! 🙂
Tickets can be purchased here 🙂
Needless to say, am really excited and cannot wait! 🙂 hope to see you there too!
And it is done. The Ball has taken place, and what a night it was!
The last few days before the ball ( 27th April) were manic – i only had about a day and a half to get my dress sorted ( a separate post on that here..) and deal with the last minute issues, problems, cancellations etc.
But all was sorted in time and by 1pm we were on the move, driving first to our hotel in Slough, even managing a short nap there, and then by 4 we were at the beautiful Heatherden Hall – a part of Pinewood Studios.
Inside, the team from Corporate Events already laid up our oak dancefloor, covering the entire ballroom.
We had a quick chat with Paul, our DJ on the day ( also from Corporate Events), about the music, preferences, set up etc – and with the music working we simply had to have a go on the dance floor ! we decided to go through our tango routine, but the stress was making it more of a free style improvisation rather than our proper routine! At that point our photographer, Paul Mockford and his assistant Jason arrived – and without much ado filmed the thing! you can see it here…
After that sneaky footage the boys got started on setting their photo studio in the Pools room, and we had a chat with the resident staff who was to care for us in the evening, headed by the competent Ivona. after that all that was to do was getting ready. Sarah and Lizzie, providing the beauty saloon services, were ready at 5, and the ladies who secured their make up and hairstyling slots were arriving on time – the rest of the guests were to start arriving at 6.
By then I was already dresses, make up and hair sorted ( more or less) and helping other ladies to get dressed – the facilities were great as we had the whole of the Conservatory and the PIne room just for ladies. during various lacing, arranging and pinning, i talked to our dance teacher, Charlotte Ewart, going through the last bits of information on the dances to be taught.
The weather wasnt perfect – but luckily by 6 it has stopped raining and the guests started arriving on the red carpet. Soon the gardens, patio and the bar, where the welcome drinks were served, were throbbing with people dressed in their finest..
The gardens, with their bridges, sculptures and the labirinth-like hedges were a popular destination for strolling and taking photos…
Then, at 8 the dancing started. We begun with the traditional Polish dance, Polonaise – it is a promenade dance, easy to follow and it is still the dance that opens every Prom Ball in Poland..
I led with Chris , our musician ( Blast from the Past) and Lucas followed with Charlotte. Our fears that people would be reluctant to dance were quickly dispelled – the dancefloor was packed full as we processed to the polonaise from Eugene Onegin
After the polonaise Charlotte guided us through the Duke of Kent waltz, proper waltz hold and steps, aend even a few polkas. Polkas were a killer, leaving us completely breathless! all to lovely live music from Sophie and Chris.
some people preferred a more passive participation though, simply enjoying the view. Some took it very easy indeed!
After the lesson the DJ took over and more waltzes, quicksteps, and more waltzes following for another hour. The dance floor emptied a bit as at the same time food was served and most folks made their way to the pools room to partake in the buffet.
The food was delicious – alas so delicious that some people went to get seconds and thirds – and as a consequence a few folks who were still dancing, us including arrived to see empty plates – or half full plates being carried back to the kitchen as people piled more food than they could eat… a bit of a lesson on human nature here, so the food issue is one to be seriously addressed in the future, if i decide to organize another ball. As it was, I was lucky enough to get a bite of a tiramisu Sarah managed to secure for me…
At the same time the photography team had their hands full – people were having their photos taken, printed and mounted in one go!
After a few more waltzes ( lots of improvisation on our part – but there were a few good couples who could really whirl around!) music gradually changed to a more modern tracks, including music from Moulin Rouge and a fully eclectic mix of rock, tango ( again, lots of improvisation and silliness here on our part!) and other dance tunes. The Prince Charming theme went down a treat – many thanks to whoever requested it! some gilrs chose to take the log skirts off and boogie around in shorter numbers, but the majority danced the night away in their finery!
And so the evening continued – dancing, drinking, chatting in a relaxing manner.
As far ars the costumes are concerned – I was hugely impressed! I must admit that I dreaded seeing those cheap fancy dress rental pieces, but I shouldn’t have worried. tTe garments were absolutely divine, in most cased hand made by the participants or by few skillful costumiers present at the ball – Felicity Westmacott, Denise Piggin or Christina Dettmers to name just a few – and of course I had a hand in making a few of the costumes too…..:-) ( historical and bridal)
The range was astounding – from pure blown out fantasy, through fashion corsetry to authentic Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian or Tudor garments. Steampunk was very much in evidence as well – in short a true feast for the eyes! just a few picture s here, more can be founf on fb – link here
The fun ended at about 12.30 when the bar closed, and we saw the last of the guests off just after 1am…
Absolutely knackered, we made our way to the hotel when at last, hungry as we were, we shared a left over bagel… 🙂
Altogether, a successful night, with the food issue to be addressed at any future events. Feedback so far was good, so many thanks to all of you who contributed to the fantastic atmosphere at the ball – and thank you for those who let me use their photos…
another blog on the ball, written by one of the guests, can be found here
and if you fancy another ball – this year;s event is coming soon! Check out our Victorian Ball
and some of the feedback received on our pages – many, many thanks for it, i was really down because the food situation, and the feebback received did raise my spirits a great deal!:
Thank you for a truly spectacular evening! We all had a fantastic time! Really appreciate all the time and effort you went to to make it such an incredible event! ♥
great evaning Izabela! Thank you for all the hard work. It ran so smoothly, a testament to your great planning!
What a lovely night! I got to dance to The Sound of Music- Edelweiss and NIN- Closer all in one night… As always I am blown away by the talent that surrounded me. The dresses and coats, the skirts and corsets, waistcoats and pantaloons, each of them were beautifully constructed and many of them by the very people wearing them. It inspires me 🙂 Thanks to everyone who came for making it such a friendly evening, it was a pleasure meeting you, and thank you to the Prior Attire team for putting together a truly Spectacular! Spectacular! event 🙂