“A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away.
D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.
E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.”
: Edward Gorey :
This weekend I attended my first Edwardian Ball at the Globe Theater in downtown LA. It was everything I hoped and more. I’ve always been a big fan of Edward Gorey. My first memory of him is watching Mystery on PBS with my mom as a kid, and being mesmerized by the opening sequence of murder and intrigue. This year’s theme was the Deadly Blotter. “Alarming Behavior. Corpse. Detective Enters. Fearful Glances. Helpful Irrelevancies…” The Globe Theater was a perfect setting. Both grand and Gothic. I was immediately impressed with all the costumes. People really took the time to create or at least assemble something that fit with the Edwardian, Victorian and Steampunk themes. Well, except for that one dude wearing jeans and a leather jacket. He stuck out for all the wrong reasons.
I arrived around 8:30pm and ballroom dancing was already in full swing. Some were obviously professional hires. But plenty of people were just swaying along with the formal festivities. I watched them dance while I saddled up to the bar to try one of the signature absinthe drinks. The Iron Mule was like a Moscow Mule with absinthe and a kick in the mouth serving of ginger. Good thing I really like ginger. Plus for $14 it was strong, which was a plus. With drink in hand I wandered downstairs to the Edwardian Underground to check out the vendor bazaar.
DJ Speakeasy Syndicate was playing a good mix of music, while people lined up to wait for the photo-booth. That line stretched almost the entire length of the underground. Probably because it was the only place in the venue with good lighting. All my pictures turned out really red or very blue. The first merchant I checked out was Subverse. I saw leather and like a tractor beam I was inside their booth in an instant. Beautifully crafted leather hats, and holsters alongside delicate lace undies and slips. Next door was Miss Havisham’s Curiosities. Self proclaimed Goth Martha Stewart she sells antique china and tea sets. But this is not your Grandma’s china. With cheeky and charming sayings like, “Drink up, wifey. Kindly fuck off, and Not that Pretty.” These insult cups are sure to delight every tea & coffee drinker. I think my favorite vendor was Ave Rose Art. She is an LA based artist who creates beautiful jewelry and display pieces featuring taxidermy and automatons. She explained to me the intricate process of automaton making as I admired a gorgeous specimen inside a pendant. One dye makes the skin translucent, while a different dye attaches to the bone. It’s way more complicated then I’m making it seem, but the end result is like a technicolor x-ray.
I headed back upstairs just in time to witness Emcee: Vegas welcome us all to the Edwardian Ball. He looked just like Zaphod Beeblebrox and did a great job of entertaining the crowd while obviously stalling for the main stage DJ, The Klown who was having technical issues. Funny thing was, his makeup was supposed to look like a sad clown. He was definitely distressed which only accentuated his makeup. But eventually whatever bug slowed him down, was fixed and on with the show!
Le Cancan Bijou was so fun. It was my first time seeing a legit Cancan outside of film and TV. They were terrific. Next up was Vau de Vire Society featuring three different talented trapeze style acts. One utilized a swing, the second a hoop and the third a pendulum, which was like a bad-ass swinging stripper pole. Each contorted their body in poses that made me want to go to yoga the next morning. The next act was a classic burlesque dancer singing Fever, accompanied by a stand-up bass player. It was sultry, provocative and ended with sparkly pasties and a screaming crowd.
Heading up to the third floor, although narrow and crowded was the best place to watch the main stage. Especially for a shortie like me. You could look down on the entire theater and clearly see every main stage act. They also had a VIP section but it was behind the crowd and behind glass. There was also another bar upstairs. In fact there was a bar just about every where you looked. I counted three on the main floor, one upstairs and one in the underground. The multiple locations really helped keep the lines moving quickly.
I headed back downstairs to check out another band in the Underground called, John Brothers Piano Company. They turned out to be my favorite band of the night. Part ragtime, part speakeasy blues. These guys played piano, clarinet, drums and trombone and would occasionally switch instruments with each other. It was fantastic. The only downside was the woman dancing in the front who thought she was part of the show. You know the kind. Dancing way to close to the band, gesturing to their microphones and instruments while looking at the crowd. As annoying as she was, it couldn’t spoil the music. Especially when the two piano players teamed up on the same song. If you’re in to this kind of music, check them out on you tube. Or if you’re in the SF area, go see a show. They are based out of Oakland.
The night was winding down so I made my way through the ever growing crowd. By 11 o’clock the Globe Theater was packed with people, standing shoulder to shoulder. I checked out one more band, Rosin Coven on the main stage. If they weren’t enough, they were accompained by MeeZee of Vau de Vire Society. A thrilling arm balance acrobat who wowed the crowd by stacking chair on top of chair only to climb atop and balance on one arm. It was amazing.
Overall I was really taken with the Edwardian Ball. Terrific music, circus acts, and performers. I loved the theme and venue. I would definitely attend again next year. But, I learned some newbie lessons.
EDWARDIAN BALL NEWBIE FAILS
- Don’t wear gloves. I had these gorgeous velvet gloves that matched my velvet pants, but made it almost impossible to use my phone. In speaking with a guy dressed as Captain Hook he remarked he ditched his gloves early in the evening. I did the MJ thing and wore only one so I could easily snap pics with my phone.
- Handheld props are annoying. For similar reasons as gloves, but also because you have to carry it all night. I have this gorgeous vintage white feather fan. I was so excited to use it, and then it broke on my way in to the ball. My purse was nowhere near big enough to keep it with me, so I wound up going to coat check and paying $3 for them to hold on to it for me.
- Avoid coat check if you can. It was a warm enough night, so I didn’t bring a jacket. But many people did. So many in fact that the coat check collapsed at some point during the night and turned into an organizational disaster. I left a little early so I wouldn’t have to wait forever in line for my stupid broken fan and watched the coat check crew scramble around trying to match up tickets. One girl waited almost 20 minutes while they located her purse. Another couple almost wound up taking home the wrong black wrap.
- Buy the early bird tickets. I signed up on the website and purchased tickets last year. It’s way cheaper and there is no worries about the event selling out.
- Skip the VIP tickets. I saw the VIP sections. The one upstairs was nice. You could see the main stage but you’re stuck there behind glass. Yes you have a table for the night, but if you want to go to the underground, it’s quite the trek. The VIP sections near the main stage were off to the side and with the crowd in front of you, you couldn’t see anything unless you stand anyway.
- If you’re short, wear heels. I definitely wished mine were taller, or that I was taller. I had a hard time seeing some of the main stage acts. But I managed okay.
- Put effort into your costume. The people watching here is epic. Be a part of the scene. Don’t be the jeans and leather jacket guy. But think logically about your costume. This place gets very very crowded so I don’t recommend a ball gown. I saw lots of girls in long full skirts having to maneuver awkwardly through crowds and up and down stairs while people stepped on their carefully crafted trains.
I am already thinking about my costume for next year. I had planned on sewing a phoenix tail skirt for this year’s ball but time got away from me. Thankfully I have 360 days to whip up a new one and fix my fan. But this time I’m going to attach it to a bracelet so I don’t have to carry it.
“G is for George smothered under a rug.
H is for Hector done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in a lake.
J is for James who took lye by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
L is for Leo who choked on some tacks.”
: Edward Gorey :