Jane Austen’s Birthday Tea at Cinco Ranch Library

Celebrating Jane Austen’s birthday in style this year!

My darling Mr. Darcy and I were privileged to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday in style this year.  Our English Country Dance group was invited to do a dance demo for the Cinco Ranch Library at a tea in honor of Jane Austen’s birthday.

You didn’t have to ask us twice! An excuse to pull out our regency garb–including the infamous ‘Belle’ gown–and dress up with some of our favorite people, and get in an extra dancing session for the month? You bet we were in!

John, our dance group organizer spoke to the audience between dances. He talked  about the history of English Country Dance, how it largely died out shortly after Jane Austen’s day and how it enjoyed a revival in the mid 1900’s.  Who’da thunk, right? 

He had us do two dances, Softly good Tummas and Corelli’s Maggot,  (click on the links if you’d like to see what they look like) and had the group guess which was written in the 1600’s and which was written in the 1900’s.  What’s your guess? (Don’t cheat and look it up now!) The fun part of it all was that nearly everyone had them reversed, thinking the old dance was the modern one! 

I’m so tickled to have gotten a little video of the event, so I can share some of what our dancing looks like. This is an old dance called Fandango.

If you think that looks like fun, you’re right and honestly it’s not nearly as difficult as it looks. Seriously I’ve NEVER been able to manage to dance before. English Country Dance is the only form I’ve been able to handle, largely because it only requires you to be able to count to eight.  If you can do that, you can dance. 

At the end of the program we brought up a lot of the audience to join us in a dance and it was awesome. They caught on really fast and did a great job.  Afterwards we shared tea and cake and raised a toast to Jane Austen herself.

A very fitting way to celebrate our favorite author, don’t you think?

Here’s our group all gussied up for the event. There are groups all over–there’s a good chance that a quick google search will turn up one near you! Take a chance and check one out. You may just find yourself hooked!


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    • Glynis on December 16, 2017 at 5:34 am
    • Reply

    Well I can count up to 8 but I’m sure I could never do that! Mind you I am severely out of practice.
    When I went to the Grammar School in the early 60s, if we couldn’t do outdoor sports we were taught old fashioned dances such as the Barn Dance, the Veleta (not sure of spelling here) and the Gay Gordons. I really enjoyed them but can’t remember them now.
    You look like you really enjoyed it and your dress is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
    Enjoy the Christmas season and I hope you have a really happy, healthy New Year (with no freak weather!)

    1. English Country dance has been the only form of dance I have been able to manage. We’ve been doing this about 2 1/2 years now and I don’t cause too many train wrecks anymore–usually LOL. Thanks so much, Glynis!

    • J. W. Garrett on December 16, 2017 at 7:37 am
    • Reply

    I was dizzy just watching. I don’t think I could keep up with you guys as I’m out of breath just watching. I can see how Mr. Collins was easily confused, kept turning the wrong way and stepped on toes. My goodness. Thank you for sharing this delightful post.

    1. I have to admit, starting to do English country dance has really made those passages from Austen make a great deal more sense. I still occasionally get dizzy and out of breath though!!

  1. How delightful!! An online friend of mine was very much involved in an English country dance group in Baton Rouge, and when we all met for a retreat in Ohio, she taught us dance. It looked like so much fun!! Unfortunately, I could only watch as my auto-immune gimpiness prevents much dancing.

    Thanks for the video–I loved watching you all dance!! Well done!!

    Susanne 🙂

    1. I am glad you got to watch at least, even if you you didn’t get to dance. It’s different to see in real life than in films.

    • Carole in Canada on December 16, 2017 at 8:23 pm
    • Reply

    Well that certainly looked like fun! What a way to celebrate Jane’s Birthday. It was also interesting to note that these dances died off shortly after Jane’s time and didn’t come back until the mid-1900’s!

    1. I didn’t know that bit of trivia either until the demonstration we did. 🙂

    • Ann on December 17, 2017 at 11:30 am
    • Reply

    I came from England and have danced Fandango and Step Stately and other Playford dances in Oxford at a dance club there. Very special experience and I enjoyed watching Fandango again and remembering the steps and the a pattern of the dance. Thank you for sharing,

    1. It’s funny how it comes back to you when you see it again, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to remember just how old the Playford dances are!

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