Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dresses in Motion-Dancing at the Regency Weekend

Last weekend I attended our annual Regency Weekend in Salem, MA. This is one of my favorite events of the year because over the course of the weekend you get a chance to talk to people and get to know them, and everyone works so hard on their dancing that by the final ball it really feels like you've stepped back in time! There's no teaching (you don't need it), and everyone is familiar. It is how I imagine balls in Austen's novels would have felt.

The final ball is held in Hamilton Hall, an 1805 building in lovely Federal style (and yes, named for Alexander Hamilton). The hall was originally built as a meeting and social space for Federalist families of Salem, and is about as close as the US gets to assembly rooms.

Hamilton Hall today, via
Hamilton Hall has an upstairs ballroom with a sprung floor. Sprung floors are double-layered with springs or dowels in between to create give and "springiness." This cushions the impact when you're dancing, and it's a noticeable difference. Seriously, I cannot stress how awesome this floor is, and how much easier it makes dancing the night away! The Hamilton Hall ballroom also has a musicians' balcony, another iconic feature of dance spaces from the early 19th century. We're lucky to have wonderful musicians, and it is so fun to see them up above us!

Hamilton Hall ballroom, via; the musicians' balcony is visible in the top right
One of the things I love about dancing and doing other activities in my historic clothes is getting to understand how they influence motion. Dancing clothes are designed for dancing (no trains!), so it's fun to actually get to the ball and see how they do. For the Sunday evening ball at Hamilton Hall, I wore the 1817 dress I made in March. I'm still really happy with it, and it was such fun to really let loose and put it through its paces!

And thanks to some friends, I can share a little bit of clothes in motion! Here are a couple of videos of me dancing from the night-I'm so pleased with the swooshy motion of this dress!

The first is a small clip of the finishing dance La Boulanger, which you can see danced through at a previous ball here, and read more about the history of here (#3 on the list).

The second is several times through The Young Widow, which is a country dance CVD is rather fond of because it is interesting and weird, and that weirdness also means that the active couple gets a break! To see what I mean, keep an eye on my partner and I--we're the active couple.

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