I feel a bit like a Regency romance heroine–a weekend of doing nothing but dancing and flirting with my Mr. Darcy. That in a nutshell was the Set for Spring weekend this year.
Perhaps I should pause a moment and explain. My Mr. Darcy and I belong to our local traditional dance society. Each spring our region has an event called Set for Spring, a whole weekend of nothing but dancing, hosted in a different city each year. This is our third year to attend. You can find our adventures from last year, and the year before by clicking the links.
This year I decided I needed a new gown. That is an entirely different story, but let’s just say I was still sewing the morning we left for the event. I’ve never had so many things go wrong with a single project ever–and keep in mind I made my own wedding dress! It was unreal. But it got finished and (miraculously) didn’t fall apart whilst I was wearing it.
(Total aside, here, my middle son saw this picture and informed me how much his father and I looked like the animated Belle and Beast of Disney fame. Yeah, somehow I managed to miss that… That being said I should probably be relieved that no one at the dance weekend made mention of the resemblance either. LOL But my husband has now dubbed the dress my ‘Belle gown’, to differentiate it from my other ball gown. Yeah, well, it’s an engineer’s sense of humor, what can I say?)
I thought you might like to see what the ballroom looked like. Empty, the room looked really large, but once you put the band at the top of the room, add a row of chairs along the walls to accommodate those sitting out and add lines of dancers, it got tight pretty quickly. Our largest dances had three lines of dancers, with roughly 12 to 16 couples in each line. Hopefully that offers a little bit of perspective on the amount of space it takes to host large groups of dancers.
During the regency era, there would have been few places that could have held our group of 100-125 dancers.
Now that we’re not total newbies at the dance and can pay attention to something more than where we’re putting our feet, I’m always on the lookout for bits and bobs to add to stories based on our dance experience.
A few observations from this year’s event.
*Approval and disapproval require no words to communicate–body language is everything and speaks very loud over the music. Some dancers have a great sense of humor and are super helpful and encouraging. And some aren’t. And those that aren’t can totally ruin a dance or an evening.
*Some dances are just plain difficult to get right and they bring out the real character of the other dancers. See point 1.
*Violating the etiquette of the dance floor makes for awkward situations for everyone. And it is even worse when the poorly-mannered are the ones insisting you are in the wrong.
*Eye contact is amazingly intense! Whoa, seriously, incredibly intense. Add to that the subtle physical contact of hands and occasionally shoulders on the dance floor, some powerful music, and the intoxication from whirling and turning and it is more potent than you can imagine. In the regency era when couples had little or no opportunity for private conversation, it’s easy to see why the dance floor was such a prime place for courtship. All that could be said through the eyes… It makes a little more sense why they didn’t want a couple sharing more than two dances if they weren’t engaged.
*And finally, if you’re planning on dancing, think carefully about the length of your skirt and the depth of the decolletage. There’s a lot of twirling and bouncing about that happens and wardrobe malfunctions aren’t pretty no matter where they happen or to whom they happen. Regency garb helps a little with that–the length of the skirt anyhow, but there are risks… And they don’t only happen to women. Do yourself and all the other dancers a favor and double check that everything is properly fastened and going to stay where it belongs once the dancing gets lively. The entire ballroom will thank you for it. Yes there are a couple of stories there, and no I’m not going to say anything more.
There a lot of local traditional dance societies and english country dance groups all over the country. If you’re intrigued, check the interwebs for one near you! We never, ever saw ourselves doing something like this, and yet, we’ve already got next year’s Set for Spring on the family calendar, and hotel reservations made! (It’s in San Antonio next year…)