Pages

Monday, December 31, 2018

Colonial Ball Through the Years

Nearly each day during the week between Christmas and New Year's Facebook's memory of the day was of the three of us attending the Colonial Ball during Patriot's Week in Trenton. I was actually surprised by how long this has been a tradition for our family.

Patriot's Week started about a decade ago now. That hardly seems possible. I think it took until the second year of the ball for me to bring it up to Don. He surprised me by enthusiastically saying he wanted to go. At that point none of us had Colonial attire, but he wore a tux he bought in 2000 when we had several events in a year where black tie was encouraged. 

The ball is designed as a chance for the reenactors gathering to wear their finery and hang out with each other. The public is invited for a nominal fee (this year it was $17.76 in advance, or $20 at the door). In exchange we were fed sandwiches and salads, and were given dance lessons so we had a shot of understanding what we are doing. The same caller also leads barn dances at Howell Living History farm. The steps are often similar. The barn dances, held three times a year, ask for $3 donation and are extremely kid-friendly.

In 2008 I wore a black dress and pearls. Ashley dressed up, too, as did Elizabeth, her American Girl Doll. Look how tiny Ashley is! 



In 2009, a year later two of us dressed in Colonial attire. Don dusted off his tux. Elizabeth also wore Colonial attire, but she does that most of the time. I cannot find the picture from 2010 or 2011, but I did blog about the 2011 ball.
 In 2012 we decided to go modern again.
In 2013 we wizened up and brought Maia for Ashley. This is around the time Cousin Hayden started to join us, too. My parents have been attending the ball since 2009. For each dance you need a partner. Everyone is friendly, and it is very easy to find a dance partner (especially if you are willing to learn the man's part), but both of us prefer dancing with Don. Fortunately he prefers dancing most of the dances. Note, Ashley is wearing the same dress she wore in 2009 (which she received the day after the ball in 2008), but with a skirt under it to lengthen the dress.

Patti and Neil also often join us at these dances. Patti loves dressing up.










 Last year the ball was held at the Marriott hotel instead of at the Masonic Temple. It didn't feel the same. Again, Maia, my parents, and Hayden joined us. I also visited with Doreen, a classmate from high school, and saw other people interested in Trenton's history. 



This year the ball returned to the Masonic Temple. For the first time my sister Melissa and her daughter, Aimee, joined us. This is the first year we have to place ourselves so Ashley is not blocking our faces. This was also the first year Ashley wore heels to the event.



In 2017 we did not purchase our ball tickets in time. In previous years we showed up at the door and paid $20 each (could have paid $17.76 plus fees had we purchased them in advance) and partied. That year they instituted a cap. 

In 2018 I made sure to purchase our tickets the day they went on sale. Good thing as it did sell out. The ticket price was raised to $25 each. Still a bargain for a night of dancing and light food while wearing period attire. Patti, Neil, my parents, Melissa, Hayden, and Aimee skipped it this year. It was odd just going as the four of us (three of us, plus Ashley's friend, Maia). The biggest challenge was keeping the camera safe and still dancing. Heidi (Maia's mom) has a friend (Jean) who loaned the girls their period attire. Heidi used her seamstress skills to adjust them to their tiny frames. They felt wearing the Colonial dresses would make their evening more fun. As they danced every dance (we sat out one to take pictures), alternating the man and the woman's sides, they looked like they were having fun. I brought my Colonial gown out of retirement for the event. It felt a little big on me. I remember the sleeves and bodice feeling tighter. The waist is a drawstring, and I had to bring that in further, too. The best part was we remembered many of the steps. Maybe this will be the year we go more often than the ball (there are monthly gatherings in Princeton of English Country Dancers).




No comments:

Post a Comment