Mrs. Parks’ Rout: Encouraging the Evening’s Historical Conceit

regencey dancers

Dearest Reader,

As we all gather our best feathers and prettiest accessories for the evening, I feel compelled just to mention a few things about the evening’s conceit. We are hoping to evoke the spirit of a bygone age but not necessarily every historical detail. We hope you have an evening which contains moments of time-travelling magic. Here are some ideas to spark your historical imagination:

Fan

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Flirt with your fan, be outraged by Beau Brummel’s last scandal, ask someone to dance and feel the thrill of that shared endeavour.

Beau Brummell
We hope that for a moment the dry heat of our California summer melts into the temperate climate of Hertfordshire over 200 years ago. There are some ways though we hope out little dance is NOT like the Regency era:

  • We’ll have central air conditioning for instance and we’ll have indoor plumbing and electricity.
  • We’ll allow, nay even encourage, women to arrive unescorted and to ask someone to “stand up” with them.
  • We will also promise not to look askance at a lady who walks across the room unescorted and we even hope you’ll laugh out loud, showing ALL your teeth.

Please feel free to gender self- identify and dance with whomever your heart desires regardless of whether they wear gown or pantaloons. If a couple of the same sex does dance together there are sashes provided to make it easier to track the movement of the dance like in this dance video.

You see a woman dancing the “man’s part” is wearing a sash so other dancers in the line know what part she is dancing in the figure. We will even be dancing this exact dance so you can study up if you are so inclined.

When I attend a costume event, I like to imagine what I would arrive in. Would my family keep a carriage ourselves, or have to borrow one?

Carriage

 

What sort of beauty regime might I have gone through? What would be my goal for the evening (usually my goal is to dance every dance)?

Beauty

I voraciously devour images of ballrooms and carriages and stories so I can use my imagination to fill in the details.

assemblyballroomballroom

It never fails to greatly contribute to my good time and I encourage you to follow some of the links included so you can do the same.

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At any rate, whether you’re an old-hand at attending historical events or looking for a new adventure, we encourage you to think of the evening’s conceit as a chance to dip an imaginative toe into another time period, to think of what life 200 years ago might have been like for you, and to enjoy an evening of community fun.

We look forward to making your acquaintance at the Rout!

Many Regards,
Mrs. Parks.

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Mrs. Parks’ Rout: How Mrs. Parks hand-makes the Dance Cards!

regencey dancers

Gentle Reader,

I Love working with the Lady Strong and the Merry Miss Parish to pull together our Regency themed rout. One of the aspects I enjoy the most is the crafty elements I get to add to help the “Olden Timey” feeling come alive. With this in mind, all guests who purchase their vouchers (tickets) ahead of time will receive a Dance Card. Dance cards did not come into wide use until later in the 19th century starting in Vienna and then making their way towards England and the USA Eventually they fell out of favor early in the 20th century. A dance card was usually issued only to the lady – the gentleman was supposed to be so honoured to have been granted a dance he could never forget or get confused. We’ll issue them to both parties and encourage ladies to ask gentlemen to dance if they see one that takes their fancy. You can find more information on dance cards HERE

Along with the dance card a little pencil was tied to it so the lady could jot down her partners name. Dance cards were almost always of some sort of fine paperstock, and therefore are reproducible with a printer, Microsoft publisher, and a little patience. Those little ball pencils though are a real trial.

One of the pioneers in dance card pencils was a German company named Staedtler. It says on their website they were the first to create a pencil lead fine enough…Huh. They no longer make them (according to their US representative no one manufactures them anymore) so I went in search of them elsewhere. Seriously, I can’t believe how nearly IMPOSSIBLE these things were to find. Finally, I found a single website that offers them in a single colour: Silver. Also they are around $0.61 EACH…Which felt like a lot of money for a pencil with a ribbon. Especially as I have tons of crafting supplies and golf pencils at my disposal.

“I Shall Craft These!” I thought. And I did. Here is how I did it.

First I gathered My Supplies

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Here you shall see narrow ribbon, golf pencils, and jewelry findings all from stash

The Pencil

I had Golf Pencils left over from last years Rout. They were $8 for over a hundred of them at Smart and Final. They were that awful No.2 pencil colour so I ganked some spray paint from my friend Michael @ Chase Flower Shop. I decided that I’d just spray ‘em. This was the most difficult part of the process because they would stick together and then I’d flip them before the paint would dry, because I am impatient, it was a whole thing.

Here you can see how they stuck together and were kinda a pain to paint.

Here you can see how they stuck together and were kinda a pain to paint.

I was thinking after all the trial in painting them that it would have been easier to just buy them in a better colour. However finding them in a better colour also proved harder than it seemed like it should, and when I did find them they were like double the price. So maybe all the pain in painting them wasn’t a waste after all!

The Caps and Ribbon

 I had this narrow mint green ribbon in my stash, It had been gifted to me. And these little golden “pearl cap” jewelry findings were bought YEARS ago in LA for cheap!!

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Knotted the ribbon through the filigree holes and them hot glued the pencils into the caps.

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When the glue was mostly dry I squished the cap closed around the pencil.

Ta Da!

The First 20 People to purchase a voucher for the rout on the second of August will receive one of these fancy homemade dance card pencils AND a commemorative dance card. So won’t you please accept our invitation? We hope to see you on the 2nd for Mrs. Parks’ Regency Rout!

A dance card from last year's Rout!

A dance card from last year’s Rout!

Mrs. Parks’ Rout: What kind of dancing is it?

regencey dancers

Curious about the sort of dances that might happen at this shindig?  It’s called English Country Dance and it is the forerunner to American Contra dancing and to square dancing in some ways. This is the sort of dancing that you see in the ballroom or Assembly Room scenes of Jane Austen film adaptations.

The dances vary from slow and stately to exuberant and fun. They also range from simple to very intricate. At our Rout, we will be sticking to the beginning and intermediate range of difficulty.

The dances can be easily taught on the night and they will be “called”, meaning that you will be guided through the steps as you dance (by the wonderful Evo Bluestein). Partner switching is encouraged and you don’t need to arrive with a partner of your own, but attending with a group of friends makes it a lot of fun.

Here are a few examples of English Country Dance via YouTube:

This first dance is called Well Hall. It is a fine example of a beginning-intermediate level dance.  You can see that it is full of walking patterns and turns and that couples move up or down the line and wind up dancing with a new couple next to them after each set of patterns is completed.  This is what makes English Country and Contra dancing so much fun- the social mixing component. It is a great way to meet new people and connect with people in your community.

The group dancing it are called the Louisiane Vintage Dancers. They are dancing at the Mandeville Jane Austen Festival.

Another fun, easy dance! Ore Boggy:

Another popular dance is The Duke of Kent’s Waltz (which is different than a waltz as we know it!)

Of course, during the Regency, men and women of family and rank were instructed in dancing and regularly practiced. That is how Darcy and Elizabeth managed conversation with such aplomb (even if they “talk by rule”!).   This dance from the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is called “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot” (‘maggot’ is a period term for “fancy” or “delight”). It is a very complex dance and many dancers practice for a long time to get it right. When it is done well, it IS a delight to both watch and perform:

We will post more about the dances at Mrs. Parks’ Rout when we have a better idea of the exact dances we will be scheduling!