My Third Playford Ball

A few weeks ago, I attended my third Playford Ball!

Our local Playford Balls are where those with a lot of experience in English Country Dance get together to dance a lot of very difficult dances, both old and new. Many folks dress up — and as English Country Dance was popular for a long stretch of time, the costumes come from a variety of eras!

My two favorite parts of the ball were

(1) dancing two particularly tricky dances: “Hortonia” and “Whately Barn” (which were both designated “for those who know,” and were therefore not called); and

(2) watching one particular dance from the balcony above: the intricate patterns flowed into each other with such smoothness and beauty and it was a true joy to watch.

So: if you were going to invent a country dance, what would you name it?

Cara
Cara King, who learns country dances by practicing with her stuffed animals

And remember: next Tuesday, we’re discussing BRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

Here are some photos I took…

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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10 Responses to My Third Playford Ball

  1. If I could invent a ‘Regency’ country dance. I would call it ‘The Gingerbub’. After my cat Ginger. Who was named after the lovely actress/dancer Ginger Rogers. But when she’s in a playful ‘gremlin’ mood, growls like the devil (Hence Gingerbub taken from beelzebub) as she scuddles across the floor. Do you think it would be a populuar dance with the Regency folk? With all the scuddling and growling across the dance floor?
    ….Well…seriously I think not…orless it was some type of Hallows Eve ball…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But seriously those are some great pictures there Cara! I love looking at all those garments and dance numbers. I’m glad you shared those.

  2. Oppps..I meant ‘scuttling’. I must been reading too much German these days!

  3. Great pictures, Cara. I so envy you the chance to attend such a great event and three times, no less!

    Hmmm. How about the Serpentine Swallowtail? A sort of meandering dance that flits about in places.

    Or the Rotten Row, a really fast dance to imitate all those heroes who race their horses down Rotten Row.

    The Mayfair Stroll, a very stately casual dance.

  4. Cara King says:

    Ooh, Gingerbub is a such a perfect cat name, Mallory! And I love the picture of a cat who’s half Ginger Rogers, and half Beelzebub.

    It’s also a fab name for a dance! As is Louisa’s Serpentine Swallowtail… Love them both.

    I think the Playford dances from this year which has the most unusual (or weird) names were:

    1) THE MAID’S LAST WISH (hmm…might her last wish have something to do with Gerard Butler, or Johnny Depp, perhaps? Then again, the dance is from 1718, so maybe she was lusting after Handel.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2) MEASURED OBSESSION (an interesting concept, I think…dance from 1991.)

    3) LOVE AND A BOTTLE (which I suppose is a Toby Belch type of dream: all a man needs is love and a bottle of sack…from 1710.)

    4) IF ALL THE WORLD WERE PAPER (from 1651 — they had weird titles back then too! Actually, it’s from a song, and makes sense in context…mostly…especially if you’ve drunk several bottles of sack…)

    5) AFTER DINNER MAGGOT. (No comment needed! From 2005.)

    Cara

  5. “After Dinner Maggot” had me doubled up over the keyboard. Sure conjures up such a yummy image.

    Cara, I had to save a couple of your images because I finally see people actually standing about in the clothes and how they would’ve looked like. At our soiree, I was too busy and in prints, it’s so stylized, it’s hard to get an idea of how the clothes on a real person fall and how they would move with them. That fellow in the knee breeches (red coat) is a classic example.

    Which bring me to my question: How and where might I be able to buy or have a custom Regency gown made (along with the accoutrements)? At what approximate cost? Thanks.

    And… Now for the squee!

    Diane Gaston’s SCANDALIZING THE TON is here!!!!! I went and got my copies. Did you get yours??

  6. Cara King says:

    “After Dinner Maggot” had me doubled up over the keyboard. Sure conjures up such a yummy image.

    I know, Keira! I’d much rather have a mint. Or even a bumblebee.

    Cara, I had to save a couple of your images because I finally see people actually standing about in the clothes and how they would’ve looked like.

    I know what you mean! Jane Austen movies and the like are wonderful, but those are actors and models, and their costumes were often faked and fiddled with to satisfy the director, rather than historical accuracy. Seeing just where men’s breeches might sag, or how an empire gown might look on a woman with a normal middle-aged figure — very useful.

    Actually, if you click on the label “English Country Dance” at the bottom of the post, it will show you all our posts labeled English Country Dance, some of which have other such pics.

    That fellow in the knee breeches (red coat) is a classic example.

    Definitely! I think part of it is that different clothes restrict movement in different ways — in that coat, he perhaps cannot lift his arms very high with ease, which leads him to do a lot of poses with the hands low…

    Which bring me to my question: How and where might I be able to buy or have a custom Regency gown made (along with the accoutrements)? At what approximate cost?

    Well, I made my own, so I don’t exactly know — but I bet if you asked on the Beau Monde loop, you’d get more informed answers. (I know several folks there had gowns made!)

    Though a quick search turned me up one link that might have some useful info:

    http://tinyurl.com/45hmx9

    Diane Gaston’s SCANDALIZING THE TON is here!!!!! I went and got my copies. Did you get yours??

    Yay, Diane! I haven’t gotten mine yet, but I will soon… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cara

  7. Maya Rodale says:

    Cool pictures!

    Keira, that’s a great point about the usual pictures from the era being so stylized that it’s hard to get an accurate idea. These pictures were quite helpful in that respect.

    And I, too, covet the dresses…

  8. Diane Gaston says:

    Diane Gaston’s SCANDALIZING THE TON is here!!!!! I went and got my copies. Did you get yours??

    Another sighting!!

    Keira, you are terrific to run out and buy my book.

    Here are some costume sites:
    http://tinyurl.com/4f9k45
    http://tinyurl.com/53fw4u (scroll down for dressmaking urls)
    http://tinyurl.com/3wrtr3

  9. Keira, you are terrific to run out and buy my book.

    *cough* Booksssss *cough*

    Keira-who’s-not-Diane’s-publicist

  10. Todd says:

    I will just point out that I am (barely) visible in one of those pictures–I believe I am the little black dot standing out at the top of the set, with my dance partner Kris, who made us look graceful even when we didn’t have a clue what we were supposed to be doing. It’s the one where everyone else is doing a right-hand star.

    I wasn’t in Regency dress, though my waistcoat did excite much admiration. (Cara’s hem was also much admired.)

    Todd-who-still-wakes-up-in-a-cold-sweat-after-dreaming-about-The-Hem

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