This weekend, I did not live like Great Grandma because I lived like Great Great Great Grandma (if of course she had been of the social status to attend a society ball, which I very much doubt). This past winter I joined the Living History Society, a local historical reenactment society that aims to capture civilian life during the Civil War. Last night was their Winter Weekend ball and my fiance and I were in attendance.
First of all, a few words on the dress. There were so many layers and as much as I would have liked to put it on by myself, it was really impossible to do so. I managed to get the drawers, camisole, corset, underskirt, cage, first petticoat, and second petticoat on by myself, but my fiance had to help me get the gown skirt and gown bodice on. The gown bodice was particularly difficult because it had to be laced through something resembling tiny buttonholes and the only efficient way to do it was to take a large tapestry needle and thread the ribbon through it, essentially sewing me into the dress. I couldn’t help at all because in addition to all the movement limited by the corset and cage, I also couldn’t lift my arms in the bodice because of the off-the-shoulder design. Poor fiance. Once dressed, I had the added struggle of getting into the car. I maneuvered in there all right but it was entirely immodest.
The ball itself was wonderful. The ballroom was candlelit and the live music was played by a trio of piano, flute, and clarinet. There were between 30 and 40 guests and three sets of period dances. Between sets, we had a three course dinner and then a dessert course. We went to a dance practice that morning to learn all the steps. I will tell you what – there was a whole lot of hopping in those dances. Everyone back then must have had really shapely calves.
We had so much fun! This morning, my calves are hurting something fierce from all the polkas and schottisches and sacheting I did.
Here are some clips of the Russian Mazurka Quadrille:
(Apologies for the dark quality – it was a candlelit ballroom, after all.)