It is a truth universally acknowledged that man dressed in Regency clothing is sure to make a woman swoon.
Well it works for me anyhow.
This is one of the reasons I was so excited about attending Dance Folkus’ Jane Austen Ball last weekend, which took place in Matangi Hall in Hamilton. (See – things do happen in Hamilton!) Seeing my boyfriend dressed in the manner of Mr Darcy was, for me, a dream come true. By the end of the evening I was almost literally swooning, though this had more to do with the tightness of my own costume than the effect of his!
The ball itself was wonderful. A $30 ticket got you an afternoon of Regency dance lessons, a beautifully decorated hall, a Regency band, a light supper and drinks all evening. Everyone was dressed up and, though many of us often forgot the dance steps, great fun was had by all. I much preferred it to clubbing as a way of meeting people! All the women were given dance cards – men literally had to book dances in advance.
Back in the early nineteenth century, it was considered most unseemly for a woman to dance more than twice with the same man. I’m afraid Tim and I broke this rule.
Outside the hall, the temperature had dropped to below zero, though this was a welcome relief. It got very hot dancing in the hall and it was nice to be able to cool off between sets. This winter is turning into an especially cold one for the upper North Island of New Zealand. I’m simply not used to sub-zero temperatures, (especially as Tim and I missed out on winter entirely last year, spending the New Zealand winter months in Europe, where it was summer.) I haven’t owned a properly thick coat since I lived in England!
But anyway – the swooning. I now have no problem understanding why nineteenth century women were known for fainting. I got my costume from a local hire place that didn’t have a lot of choice in the Regency department, so I had to take whatever fit best. The dress I ended up with was lovely, but it was extremely tight around the chest. When we were dancing the rather energetic final dance, the heat of the room, coupled with the fact that I couldn’t expand my lungs enough to get sufficient oxygen, caused me to become quite dizzy.
I stumbled and just managed to prevent myself from falling over. My world was spinning, and as soon as the dance was over I was on a chair having my face fanned frenetically with a dance card. Far from spoiling the evening, I felt it added an air of authenticity.
This is one of the dances we did: (Any excuse to watch a bit of Pride and Prejudice!)
Dance Folkus has Regency balls every year. If you’ve always dreamed of living out your Jane Austen fantasies, I recommend checking their Facebook page for future events.