Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Regency comes to Calgary, May 16, 2015

On September 28 last year, Edmonton saw its first Regency costume ball, which took place in the sumptuous Wedgwood Room of the Hotel MacDonald, which is actually a certified castle. To own the truth, I think of it as my castle. It isn't. I just feel an affinity towards it. For pictures and details, see my post about that event, which was so popular, we had to do it all over again to accommodate those who couldn't get tickets. 

Dancing in the sumptuous Wedgwood Room at the Michaelmas Ball

We are currently in the midst of dance lessons for the Regency Midwinter Ball taking place again at the Hotel Mac, on February 28.

Dance lessons begin for the Midwinter Ball

If you missed that as well, or if you simply cannot get enough Regency loveliness, then have I got news for you! I am bringing the show south to Calgary, where we will repeat it all, this time at the Palliser, in the Alberta Ballroom, which might be the only venue in the province that could rival the Mac's Wedgwood Room. Tickets at

Alberta Ballroom at the Palliser Hotel

For the benefit of the uninitiated, let me tell you how it works, and how I came to hatch this plan. I have been to several Regency events, particularly costume balls, and while I enjoyed myself tremendously, those events were all in England and we cannot always hop on a plane for the sake of an evening's revelry. Furthermore, I wanted to do things differently.

Dancing at the Jane Austen Ball in Bath, England
One think I always felt was underdeveloped was the actual dancing. There were hundreds of people at the ball, and though there was a workshop offered in advance to learn the dances, we learned more than 5 dances in an hour and a half, and then spent the ball reviewing them and never really got to dance. I wanted to hold a ball at which people came knowing the dances already, so we could all just dance, as they would have in Jane Austen's time. I wanted the dances to last long enough to really get going. In the old days, a single dance could last as long as half an hour. Mine last about 10 minutes, which is long enough to work out the kinks, and for most people to make it at least once down the set.

So, for that reason, I offer 3 dance lessons leading up to the ball, to teach and practice the dances fully. Everyone comes knowing the steps, and recognizing many of the faces of the other guests. I like to think this gives an air of authenticity to the experience.

Some of our guests posing for the camera at the Michaelmas Ball
In Calgary, the lessons will take place at 5400 Dalhousie Drive, NW, on April 26, May 3 and May 10. You can register for the lessons at

I also have a rule against cel phones and cameras at the ball. I always find it impossible to suspend my disbelief of time travel when people are texting and taking selfies all around me. Also, one wants to have a splendid visual record of the event, and being someone who is terrible at photography, and always forgets to take pictures, I never walk away with anything like the images I would like to take with me. 

So, I hire a professional photographer to take everyone's portrait, in their costume, as they arrive, and to take photographs throughout the evening. That way we all get to see ourselves looking our best, and there is only one discreet professional intruding with modern technology on our evening of make-believe.

I have a few gowns that I hire out, and I have posted videos to my YouTube channel showing people how to create a Regency costume out of regular clothing. Costume is mandatory, though flexible. I order a stock of long white gloves for the ladies and stockings  for the gentlemen, which guests can purchase, as they are both difficult to find. Plus I have a few gowns which I rent out to guests who are in a bind about their dress.

Showing some of my gowns to guests at the dance lessons for the Midwinter ball
I recommend people in Edmonton to the Theatre Garage for costume rentals, but do not know of a good costume rental shop in Calgary. Please comment below if you do.

Please share the word about this event. It is going to be tremendous fun, and a lot less expensive than a trip to England.

Melanie Kerr is the author of Follies Past: a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice

Read Chapter 1      

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