The 23rd annual Edwardian Ball was sensory feast. As soon as guests entered the rotunda of the Regency Ballroom, they were enveloped in an Edward Gorey dreamscape. With vintage teardrop chandeliers, a historical manual Otis elevator, and dark wood and red carpets in the upstairs lodge, the grand 1909 building fits right into the goth-Victorian-Edwardian milieu of Gorey’s work.
The performers this year skewed dance-intensive. The Vau de Vire Variety #1 opened with a burlesque followed by sexy aerialists; Le CanCan Bijou offered their “Fancy, dancy, underpantsy” sets; A “Garden Party” spectacle was dance storytelling.
Sultry auditory stimulation came from Klezmer band Kugelplex and their old world sounds and Sgt. Splendor’s work with “Garden Party.” The Speakeasy Syndicate opened the evening and seamlessly filled in the interludes.
Zoe Jakes House of Tarot offered an immersive experience embedded within the immersive experience of the Ball itself. After queueing up, visitors passed through a red door into a series of low lit rooms with dancers, lantern laden trees with hand-written messages of affirmation, an oracle (providing guests guidance from her dance priestesses), a moon room, narrow hallways, staircases and a delightfully subtle dance showing casing beautiful and exact moves created in unison.
Throughout the night stilt walkers and jugglers wove through crowds. Tumbleweed the clown, the embodiment of frivolity on skates, was here, there, and everywhere. A capstone of the evening: this year’s Gorey enactment of “The Remembered Visit.”
For drinking pleasures, the Gold Bar Saloon provided Gold Bar Whiskey tasting right out of the casks (in diminutive boots serving as shot glasses) as well as whiskey libations. Absinthia set up its Absinthe Academy to educate as well as lubricate ball goers. Those wanting a caffeine pick-me-up headed to the steam powered tea garden, which gave folks a chance to watch the dance floor while sipping tea.
Visually, there was more art and fewer oddities on display than years past. Live art was created including a huge sculpture and sketches of attendees. Kinetic Steam Works made annual souvenir coasters onsite. A Gorey living room was set up for Instagram-worthy photos.
The splendor of the setting was further enhanced by myriad costumes. Embracing genderfluid (even species fluid) dressing, couples of all kinds wore bustles and brocade, corsets and cleavage, feathers and fishnets, hats and horns, masks and makeup. Gorey cosplay and steampunk fashion were well represented. Perhaps the most inventive costume was the engineer who built his own coconut horse step machine a la Monty Python’s Holy Grail: “You’re Using Coconuts.”
For those forgetting an essential part of their outfit or searching for something special for the next event, the extensive vendor bazaar was at the ready Including its own musical stage with Swingatto and Stefania L’Amour performing throughout the night.