For the past few months, we had been excited and intrigued about a new event coming to New Orleans for the first time. We stumbled upon an announcement about The Edwardian Ball on Facebook, and after one look at the pictures knew this would be an event we had to check out. This staple of the events scene in San Fransisco and Los Angeles, seemed to be a perfect fit for New Orleans, and we were excited to find out! Let’s just say it did not disappoint!
In it’s origin story, I think lies the best picture of what the ball is. It is difficult to describe, elegant yet whimiscal, Edwardian yet Gothic, fine art meets circus show, and all in all simply extravagant!
The ball began in 1999 when members of the band Rosin Coven, popular at the time in the San Fransisco area for their live shows, realized they all shared a love of the author/illustrator/artist Edward Gorey known for his macabre pen and ink sketches depicting scenes in the Victorian and Edwardian eras who is said to have inspired Charles Adams, creator of the “Adams Family,” Lemony Snicket, and Tim Burton. The group decided to craft an event during which they would perform Gorey’s stories live, and hence The Edwardian Ball was born. The “Edwardian” of The Edwardian Ball, thus refers to Gorey, not the commonly held Edwardian Era, and each year the theme of the ball revolves around a telling of one of Gorey’s stories. The early events were a bit of an underground club event in the Bay Area, but growing quickly, the team decided to partner with the Vau de Vire Society, a community of dancers, acrobats, aerialists, circus sideshow acts, fire performers, thespians, and contortionists who’s events and performances are interactive circus-like shows with acts both on stage and interspersed about the crowd, adding another extreme element to the party. And so you have The Edwardian Ball, where everywhere you turn there is something to behold whether it be an aerialist flying or a dagger-thrower throwing, where every attendee is outfitted in elaborate costumes spanning multiple eras and themes from Steampunk Victorian, to true Edwardian elegance, to the mythical and fantastical, to the truly bizarre, yet each amazing in it’s own right. The event has grown into a two day festival in San Fransisco that is a whirlwind of arts, music, theatre, performance, circus, fashion, literature, and ballroom dancing, in a setting that transport the attendees into another time that is an amalgam of Victorian, Edwardian, steampunk, gothic, cosplay, and science fiction.
With The Edwardian Ball coming to New Orleans for the first time, we did not know what to expect, but from the very first moment to the very last we found ourselves ridiculously entertained! Upon entering the ball we were greeted in the courtyard with a large steampunk dragon, taller than the building itself , breathing giant plumes of fire.
In the courtyard were various performers, dancers, contortionist, a whip artist and more wandering amongst the attendees displaying their talents in interactive mini-shows. Once inside we found two stages, which throughout the night would host a glass walker, hula hooper, dancers, contortionists and various other acts.
At multiple points in the evenings, ropes, or hoops would drop from the ceiling into the crowd signaling the beginning of breathtaking aerial performances.
In between acts, the party never lapsed with the DJ keeping the dance floor of one room filled with unicorns, fairies, jesters, soldiers, elegant ladies, and masked gentleman while live bands performed across the way in the other room. The ball also added some New Orleans touches by bringing in local favorites, The Preservation Hall Big Brass Band, along with Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses, and The G-String Orchestra.
Many of the acts at the event were also local performers from New Orleans Circus, Burlesque, and Variety. Gorey’s “The Deadly Blotter,” number seventeen of his Thoughtful Alphabets, served as the theme for this year’s events. Gorey’s alphabets are 26 words stories told with each words starting with a different letter of the alphabet in order; “The Deadly Blotter,’ a murder mystery, added a sense of mystery and suspense to the evening’s happenings. But perhaps the best part of the evening was seeing how New Orleanians, with their fabulous love of costuming all year round, showed up exactly as one would expect, in the finest, most elaborate, most exotic, most creative, costumes!
The Edwardian Ball was a true delight to the sense and was one of the most entertaining nights we have had in quite sometime! In a city that is jam packed with fun and entertainment literally all the time, it is hard for a new event to stand out and impress the local,. but we must say The Edwardian Ball was up to the challenge and we cannot wait for next year’s event….starting to work on our costumes now btw!
So will we see you there next year?!