Sunday, January 6, 2019

Party Like it is 1776

As I previously wrote, Don, Ashley, and I have been attending the Patriot's Week Colonial Ball since 2008. We have only missed one year because the popular event sold out before I ordered tickets. 

After all of these years I have not mastered taking good pictures of people dancing. The gowns and uniforms are amazing. I wear a dress I bought nearly a decade ago for $100 at a historic reenactment at Hope Lodge in Washington, Pennsylvania that Carin had told me about. As you can see in the above post, some years I wore the dress, other years I didn't. I did grow tired of wearing the same dress every year, even if it is the perfect dress for the event. When Ashley's friend Maia's mom (Heidi)'s friend Jean offered to lend the girls period-appropriate attire, I decided it was time to literally dust off my ball gown. Yes, I should have checked it out prior to the event.

Our caller is Sue Dupre. I tend to only list last names on my blog when the person has a business I want to help promote. Not only does Sue call the dances at the Colonial Ball, she is the caller at Howell Living History Farm's triannual barn dances (three times a year, versus triennial (once every three years) your English lesson for the day). She also calls at other events, and has written period-style dances that are less complicated than the original ones can can be taught in a few minutes to novices. Sue was recently featured in the lead article in US1 for her skills. Click on the link for good pictures of dancers.

We arrived a few minutes past 7pm.  I forgot how long it takes to put on all the layers. I'm more of a slap on a dress, some stockings for a formal occasion, and a pair of heels sort of dresser. Remembering the shift, petticoat, top layer, long socks, shoes, fichu, and period-appropriate jewelry and making sure all the pieces were both found and worn properly while helping Don, Ashley, and Maia with the same took a few extra minutes. The result being they were into their first dance before we sashayed in the door. I should have used the time to take pictures, but instead we got settled and were ready to jump into the next dance.

The way the evening works, Sue patiently explains the steps to everyone. There is a blend of experts who go to events like this throughout the year (we have talked about doing so, but have not yet) to those who are doing this for the first time. We fall in-between. We have danced at enough events to follow most steps. Having the same caller, using the same phrases year after year helps. Repetition is key to learning. Sometimes Sue grabs a partner in the middle of the room and demonstrates the moves.

An added challenge this year was in addition to the two main columns, a third on in-between, yet behind into the lobby appeared. Even with a sold out event, the floor was mighty packed. We looked at the mostly empty tables and wondered if in the future they could do with less tables and more dance floor. The only time the tables were used was when the band took a break, and even then there were empty tables. Set up an ample amount of chairs, and leave out 2/3 of the round tables and there will be more space for dancing. 

It was good to see so many people dancing.

Ashley and Maia danced all the rest of the dances. Don and I sat one out so I could take some blurry pictures. These are the good ones. They had a professional photographer at the event. I suspect he knows what he is doing.

Love that they use the historic Masonic Temple

Mid-way the band takes a break. Sandwiches, salads, and Halo drinks are readily available and replenished, followed by desserts. I used that time to take family pictures in the same place we have always taken family pictures.

Who let the British invade our party?

Love this one of the girls!

Different this year is that my parents, and our friends Neil and Patti did not go. We had to figure out where to put our camera so it would stay safe. Don juggled it. I should have brought the smaller camera which would fit in my pocket. Next time.

Then back to dancing until 10pm.

Fortunately this year the weather was warm so we did not also have to juggle winter coats and a second pair of shoes. That is a small treat.

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