March 9, 2011

Attending the Los Angeles Edwardian Ball

Edwardian era dresses, top hats, Cirque Berzerk, moody music, rooftop vending, and absinthe.  Just another Saturday night in Los Angeles.  The venerated celebration of Edward Gorey made its second appearance in Los Angeles last Saturday.  In San Francisco, the Edwardian Ball is a weekend long celebration.  Maybe L.A. will  get there one day.

The Music Box hosted the ball this time around.  If you had to choose a setting for such an event, I don't think you could do better.  After a bit of a wait outside, I entered a dimly light lobby.  The walls were covered in all manner of sconces.  It set the right mood.  A sign proclaimed that it was the Edwardian Ball; just beyond that, the line for the bar was already stacking up.  They were proudly serving absinthe.  They set up cups underneath small jars of water with nozzles and let the water run over a lump of sugar on a special spoon.  As it turns out, I enjoyed the preparation (ritual is good) more than the actual beverage.  At least I tried.

Just past the bar was a big, mostly empty dance floor.  A DJ dressed like a swami spun tunes, and a few couples took to the floor immediately.  The sides of the dance floor were lined with booths for the VIPs.  I looked at their cushioned sets with longing.  Yep, I chose inappropriate footwear for the evening.  I stood as long as I could taking in the atmosphere and gazing upon the vast array of costumes.  People trickled in for a long time, and the lobby was a perfect place to hang out to see all the outfits.  I eventually wondered upstairs with my date, following the signs for vending and a lounge.  Cut-outs from Edward Gorey stories were placed along the way.

The signs led to the rooftop.  It was a beautiful L.A. evening and the fresh air was welcome.  Vendors offered corsets, hats, gloves, feathered hair pieces, skirts, blouses, art, and jewelry.  I'm not much of a shopper until you put me in place like that.  Maybe it's something about shopping for period(esque) things while in costume?  Not sure.  Shopping on a rooftop also had a certain appeal.  Adjacent to the shopping area, we stumbled upon the lounge.  It was a closed in room on the side of the rooftop, and it was filled with couches.  I've rarely been so happy to see a place to sit.  It was relatively quiet too, even though the portrait area was inside.

My costume
Back on the main floor, the show had started.  The evening was filled with multimedia acts, and you could pop in and out according to your whim.  Dark Garden Corsetry showed off their fashions with a short titled the Neglected Murderesses.  Music acts such as Rosin Coven and Jill Tracy took the stage and got costumed attendees spinning around the floor.  The Vau de Vire Society and Cirque Berzerk took the stage solo or with musical acts and dazzled the audience with aerial antics and circus feats.  Even if you didn't stay indoors in front of the stage the whole night, you didn't really feel like you missed anything.  I had just as much fun wandering around the roof and dodging bustles and trains as I did attempting to dance downstairs.

I found the ball to be decadent and whimsical and relaxed.  I'd go just to look at the costumes; the rest of the experience was the frosting.  And it was damn tasty frosting.
I don't have a clue about taking photos in low lighting, but fortunately other people have it down.  Check out these photos by an Edwardian Ball regular.

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  1. Dang, I just missed it! Definitely marking it down for next year. Love your costume!

  2. Thanks! It was a last minute costume, but it came together. I highly recommend checking it out - see you there next year!

  3. Worth noting that Neglected Murderesses was written by Edward Gorey! He directed a performance of it on Cape Cod with his longtime acting troupe. Check out my new mini-book "Edward Gorey Plays Cape Cod: Puppets, People, Places, & Plots" (on Amazon or Edward was also a fan of all things Whedon!


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