In less than two weeks, I’ll be at the Jane Austen Evening. I can’t wait!
For those of you who don’t know, the Jane Austen Evening is an annual event held in the Los Angeles area every January. For quite a reasonable fee, you get all-you-can-eat afternoon tea, a period performance, and then hours of Regency-era dances, with the occasional card game thrown in.
And the costumes are fabulous.
Even if one doesn’t dance at all, one can be entertained for hours just watching the dancers carrying out the intricate steps of English Country Dances, many of these dancers in equally intricate costumes.
Last year, the California Automobile Club Magazine ran an article which talked about the Jane Austen Evening, which led to an influx of a whole lot of new people.
So last year, the Evening sold out early, and this year it did as well.
The waiting list, I hear, has seventy people on it. It would have more than that, except the organizers finally drew the line at seventy. (Few, if any, of those seventy will be able to attend, after all!)
I’ve already attended one practice session for the dances, and reviewed my knowledge of dances which include “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot” and “Shrewsbury Lasses” (a.k.a. “Wrong Way, Mr. Collins!”), which were both featured in the 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice.
Here are some links, in case you want more info:
Jane Austen Evening. The Event of the Social Season.
Lively Arts History Association — which produces the Jane Austen Evening, and many other period events.
Links to Historical Dance Groups around the world
Previous Jane Austen Evening video on YouTube!
Have you done any English Country Dance, or other period dance? If so, how did you like it?
Have you ever attended any event which included Regency-era dance or cards? Do you wish you could?
Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER, which contains no dancing, not even of any kind, but does have an awful lot of explicit card-playing
Boy do I wish I was closer! But then I don’t have anything to wear. . . LOL Nope, I never did anything like that, but I sure wouldn’t mind trying it sometime (and getting to wear outfits like that! I love the blue one on top) 🙂
Oooooooo, maybe I’ll have to go with you next year! I’m only 6 hours away and I bet I know a ton of the people there. LOL!
Have fun, and take lots of pics to share.
Cara ~ I didn’t know that you lived in California. I live in South Orange County. It looks like the Jane Austen Evening will be a lot of fun!! Yes, pleeeeeeeze post pictures, because I want to see your dress.
Manuelita ~ Off to contemplate what kind of Regency dress she’d design …
Oh!! What happy memories this evokes. I’ve never done the Jane Austen evening, but I’ve danced lots at the Beau Monde soiree, the Regency chapter of Romance Writers of America, who hold a Regency party every year at the RWA conference–You’ve been there, Cara, and poor Amanda, who has been my partner too many times. Last summer I danced with Joanne Carr, Asst Editor for Harlequin/Mills & Boon Historicals . But the best of the best was dancing with Amanda and The Jane Austen Dancers (a reinactment group in the UK) in the Assembly Rooms in Bath, where Jane Austen herself danced. We were in costume and it was wonderful.
Cara, what a fun evening! Everyone is in just gorgeous costumes. I look forward to seeing your photos.
Did you sew your own gown, or is there a place you can order it? Which dances would on your favorite list, and which ones you would prefer to sit out?
Diane, did you guys take dance lessons for the Beau Monde Soiree? So who between you and Amanda led when you danced together? 🙂
Oh, neat, Manuelita! Nice to know I’m not the only Regency fan in Southern California! 🙂
(Actually, in the Los Angeles chapter of Romance Writers of America, we have startling number of Regency authors for such a moderate-sized chapter! Let’s see… We’ve got Shannon Donnelly, and me, and Christine Locksy, and even the Maggie MacKeever!)
Keira, I made my dress myself, years ago for one of the Beau Monde’s soirees. It’s a very simple dress, and not great looking, but the fact that I made it myself seems to make up for a lot of that. 🙂 (I’m not what you’d call a seamstress.)
The attendees with the best costumes are either people who make a serious hobby of creating period clothes, or who hire some such person. Those costumes are just amazing.
Then there are a lot of people like me, who do what they can, trying to look period.
Then there are those who put together an outfit that hopefully looks mostly period, but is actually a modern dress or whatever.
And then there are people who just dress up fancy!
There’s always lots of variety.
(And there are also folks in Elizabethan or Victorian or whatever clothing, too!)
You have courage to take on the monumental task of sewing an enire dress. My rare excursions are limited to the handkerchief-sized cross-stitch sampler with the design painted on it or darning. Seamstress, I most certainly am not.
By the way, Manuelita, if you ever want to learn any English Country Dancing, there’s a group in Santa Ana that meets every third Saturday:
Remarkably, I’ve been to many of the same dance events that Cara has! And I’ve even danced at a Beau Monde Soiré, which is something that not too many men can say. 🙂 But I still envy Diane and Amanda their dance in the Assembly Rooms at Bath!
I’m one of the people Cara referred to who just kind of fakes it with modified modern clothes. I don’t even own a proper tuxedo any more. (I used the same dinner jacket for years until it mysteriously shrunk in the wash about ten years ago.) One of these days I will invest in a proper period costume…and a proper new tuxedo…and lots of other proper things.
Oh, that looks like fun, Cara!
My own experience is limited to dancing at the Beau Monde soirees every other year or so. Which explains why I enjoy it so much (the company could not be better) but also why I do it so badly! I tell myself if I lived somewhere that I could attend practice sessions (sigh) my performance would be less execrable. 🙂
I own a gown, too, one that was made for me using the Sense & Sensibility pattern from http://www.sensibility.com which I was told was pretty easy. If anyone is interested, another site that is useful and has lots of links is Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion.
My husband has talked about coming to one of the Beau Monde events sometime. He’s willing to try to cobble together some sort of a costume and even to try the dancing though I think he may have less rhythm than I do. We’d turn everyone’s heads, I’m sure. 🙂
That evening does look fun, Cara. I haven’t tried dancing at the Beau Monde soirees–too shy–but I like watching the other guests give it a shot. Very brave of y’all.
Someday I have to visit CA and attend this evening, Cara! It looks like wonderful fun. I’ve only danced at Beau Monde Soirees and the evening in Bath, which was really magical. Diane is very, very brave to partner me at the Soirees, since I tend to go the wrong way and knock people over. 🙂 But I am signed up for a samba class next month, maybe that will help (did they samba in the Regency? LOL)
Yay for the samba class, Amanda. Looks like your goals for this year are off to a good start.
Megan, I’m much relieved to hear that one is not required to dance at the soirees.
Is there any sort of instructing (here are the basic steps) done at the soiree?
Is there any sort of instructing (here are the basic steps) done at the soiree?
Indeed, Keira! Though some Beau Monders attend every year, there are always LOTS of new people who’ve never been to a Beau Monde soiree before, and so all the dances are easy ones, and taught at the soiree.
As are the card games. (That is, when anyone plays any. When I go, I usually have them name me Gaming Mistress or some such thing so I have an excuse for badgering people into learning card games.) 🙂
Once you get the hang of Regency dancing it’s really quite easy–at least, the basic moves. There are obviously more complicated dances which can put a strain on one’s memory (I think everyone has had the moment when you finish the last move and have absolutely no idea what you’re supposed to do next), and occasionally I’ve seen dances with a lot of beginners collapse into a train wreck, but there’s nothing wrong with that! 🙂
And Cara likes to get people to play the card games because she always wins! After our last game of Piquet I owed her something like 318 million guineas…
Every year, the husband and I keep saying we should go — and somehow, we never get our act together. Poke me when you get the notice for 2008, will you?
It’s been a few years since I’ve done Regency dancing; we used to always go enjoy the dancing at Loscon, but since they moved to LAX, it’s no longer quite so convenient to just pop over.
We actually led and taught the Loscon dance one year, which was fun — and Larry Niven is a marvelous partner, btw. 🙂
Dancing with Larry Niven — now there’s a nice thing to be able to drop into conversation!