A while back, I received information about a ball being held in Brussels by the Società di Danza, an Italian organisation for historical dances. There would be a rehearsal evening the day before the ball to learn the dances. I debated whether I would go, but received word that some friends would also be going a couple of weeks before, so I opted to come with them!
The period of the ball was mid 19th century, which meant I finally had an opportunity to wear my 1860’s ballgown to an actual ball. I had to make some slight changes to the skirt, as I’d replaced my hoop since making the gown, and it was therefore a bit long in the front. Not practial for dancing. I also chose to bustle up the back a bit, as the dress has a slight train. Very pretty, but again, not very practical in a ballroom.
This summer has been unusally hot, and of course, as the weekend approached, the days of the dance rehearsal and ball were predicted to be the warmest yet. With about 36 degrees, we were very happy with the airconditioning in the car as we drove to Brussels! The first day, we first had very hot weather, then a dust storm as the wind picked up, and then a thunderstorm as we drove to the rehearsal. It actually became dry again as soon as we arrived, and was still hot as before. In about 3 hours, we very quickly learned all the danced we’d be doing at the ball. A brief explanation, do it a couple of times, and move on. Most people there were familiar with the dances, but we weren’t, so although the explanations were very clear, it proved to be a challenge to actually remember the dances for the next day!
During the next day, we visited the lace and costume museum. The costume bit was a very modern exhibition, but the lace room was beautiful. We spent quite a bit of time admiring the antique laces.
One of my favourite things was this little lace shop.
In the end, it became too warm and we spent the rest of the day finding shops with airconditioning until it was time to get ready.
The ball was held in a beautiful venue with a large ballroom, and sitting rooms along side. Luckily, it was not as warm as the rehearsal room. Wearing a corset and a black velvet dress, it was still very warm, but doable.
Mirrors are very convienient for costume pictures!
The dancing was fun, although definitely a bit of a challenge! We were briefly shown a repetition, but that was all. Luckily, most people in attendance actually knew what they were supposed to do, so we could copy them and got along okay.
Dancing a quadrille, picture with thanks to the Società di Danza!
And a walz about to start (I think). We’re in the bottom right corner.
A group picture of all the lovely attendees!