“The Edwardian Ball is an elegant and whimsical celebration of art, music, theatre, fashion, technology, circus, and the beloved creations of the late, great author Edward Gorey.” - Steve Payne – The Huffington Post
“In the Bay Area, which drives the world’s latest inventions in futuristic technology, San Francisco’s recent Edwardian Ball, where thousands of people gathered to celebrate all things circa 1900, seemed a curious turn to the past.” - Carolyne Zinko – SF Chronicle
“Wax up your handlebar mustache, dust off your stripy topcoat, burnish your steampunk petticoats, and oil those wheezy accordions: The Edwardian Ball, that phenomenal annual gathering of exquisitely decked-out freaks, is back!” - Marke B. – SF Bay Guardian
“The Edwardian Ball, thrown by Rosin Coven and the Vau de Vire Society, never fails to amaze — and absinthe-addled though we were, we managed to take in all the sights, from petticoats a-plenty to splendid corsetry to handsome haberdashery from an era gone by… Despite the fact that stunning vintage apparel has come to be expected, the Edward Gorey-inspired event… is anything but old hat.” – Emily Appelbaum – SF Bay Guardian
“A great part of this gig is its interactivity. Devoted attendees must stop, look, and listen. They must taste, touch, and kick up their heels. It’s an immersive spectacle like few others.” – Sam Prestianni – SF Weekly
“Steam punkers, Edward Gorey fans, ballroom dancers, cat lovers, eccentrics, literati, Goths, humorists and lovers of the macabre: it’s time to rejoice! This weekend marks the arrival of one of our great San Francisco institutions: The Edwardian Ball. Co-produced by the musical group Rosin Coven and the circus performance ensemble the Vau de Vire Society, the Ball is an extravaganza like no other.” - Charles Kruger – Examiner.com
“Fantastical, eerie, peculiar, time-warped and surreal, the Edwardian Ball is unlike any other party in San Francisco.” - Barbara Koh – About.com
“In short, the Edwardian Ball is not an event as much as it is its own universe.” – Lauren Gallagher – SF Examiner
“During two days a fantastic and surreal world came to life at the Regency Ballroom.” (translated from Spanish) Ernesto Altamirano – Univision 67
“In a city that prides itself on its individuality, one would still be hard pressed to find anything quite like the Edwardian Ball, which boasts an aesthetic that mixes Edwardian period dress, steam punk chic and Edward Gorey-inspired madness for two days at the Regency Ballroom.” - Woodrow Currie – SF Station
“The Edwardian Ball is more than an event; when you walk through the iconic doors of San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, you enter an entirely new universe where the laws of physics and tradition no longer rule. A world of fantasy, extravagance, and adventure; a true playground for those who’s imagination knows no bounds.” - Nick Abitia – Sound Colour Vibrations
“Unlike other period-theme events, (such as the Dickens Christmas Fair and the Renaissance Faire) the Edwardian Ball is a completely imagined world, influenced by both the King Edward era of Great Britain and Edward Gorey’s work, but beholden to neither.” - Jonathan Farrell – Digital Journal
“It is a sensory explosion in the best way possible and something you will not soon forget.” – Carlos Rubio – Artnois.com
“I have had the pleasure of introducing many friends to this event, and without exception they have been fascinated with the amazing spectacle that is The Edwardian Ball.” – Gina White – examiner.com
“It’s that time of year again dreary dearies: time to break out your top hat & tails, your bustle & bodice, your pocket watch and petticoat, and of course dancing shoes of all varieties. It’s time once again for the Edwardian Ball! - Mary Danzer – examiner.com
“The Edwardian Ball could be the best Halloween party of the year, that just happens to occur in January. In a top hat tip to technology, screens behind the bars exposed their best #EdwardianBall Instagram pics of the night, and its revelers. I spied an Admiral’s epaulettes brushing the shoulders of a confederate soldier, a DJ flapper’s pearls caught spinning around her mixing records. On the third floor we played detectives for Vivien Blackwell’s Murder Mystery… As for the actual retelling of “The Curious Sofa” by Rosin Coven and Vau De Vire Society, well, it was a raucous one. It fell, with grace, within the afterthoughts of every uncensored ballet.” - Sean Taylor – TheatreStorm
“There couldn’t be a better venue, or city for that matter, to host The 14th Annual Edwardian Ball. A two-day extravaganza of interactive games, musical performances, and mystical experiences only imagined by one’s creativity, The Edwardian Ball and Edwardian World’s Faire isn’t your typical nightlife party or show. Dwelling in 19th century architecture and neoclassic/beaux art styled décor lies a wonderland of Edward Gorey’s goth and steampunk creatures dancing to haunting yet enchanting music.” - Chris W. Hong – Davis Dirt
“There are many events that deserve our attention, and that will appeal to the uniqueness in all of us. This is one of them. If you love Halloween or dressing up for the Dickens Christmas Fair, this is your chance to go back into the past and give it your own spin. It’s a place where the character in you can come out, come out wherever (and whatever!) you are. You can attend the event in San Francisco or Los Angeles or both.” - Ron Merk – Indieplex Magazine
“Want to dress up in something out of the ordinary and even a bit extraordinary? Need an out-of-town trip or want to trip into another century or alternative universe. Even if you’re comfy on your couch, you might see you couch differently if you get Edwardian.” - Ian Ono and Jana Monji – examiner.com
“The thing about The Edwardian Ball that stands out the most when the event ends is that there needs to be more nights like this in Los Angeles.” – Sabina Ibarra – Living Out Loud, Los Angeles
“If the excuse to dress up isn’t enough for you — imagine total immersion into another time.” - Jenelle Campbell – The Work Magazine
“Queen Victoria’s son King Edward VII ushered in a new century during his brief yet historic reign as the first British monarch of the House of Windsor from 1901-1910. Since then, “Edwardian” has come to define the art, fashion and intellectual life characteristic of the era, so it’s only natural that the Edwardian Ball would be a celebration of the Edwardian Era, too. Yet the annual spectacle in Los Angeles and San Francisco is a lavish promenade that actually honors another Edward: American illustrator Edward Gorey.” - Tanja M. Laden – Huffington Post
“Have you ever wanted to step into a Edward Gorey story? Well now you can, and what a party you have in store for you! Step inside the world of Edwardian elegance where cocktails flow, and decadence is abundant. Much more then a party, you will be walking into an experience.” – Anastasia Washington – Nerd Reactor
“Music, dazzle, aerial acts, and no-holds-barred drama fill out the remainder of the evening, where parading in one’s hoop-skirt’d, bird-cage-bedecked get-up is part and parcel of what is done. Think of the scene as slightly goth, slightly batty, slightly royal, and elegantly eccentric. Or is that eccentrically elegant?” – Alysia Gray Painter – NBC Los Angeles
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The Ninth Annual Edwardian Ball
January 24, 2009
The Regency Center
Review and Photos by Sam Prestianni
Better Than: Being run through with an awl or trampled flat in a brawl.
The annual Edwardian Ball once again staged a fitting, San Francisco-style homage to the cartoon-Gothic writer and illustrator Edward Gorey with a riveting multimedia extravaganza of music, dance, video, art installations, and aerial acrobatics. Hosted by the postmodern cabaret combo Rosin Coven –a virtuosic orchestra of string slingers, horn players, percussionists, and singers– the quasi-Victorian dance party brought out hundreds of the city’s finest freaks and geeks, whose passion for Gorey’s urbane sense of the macabre matched their own child-like fancy for dress-up and play. As if competing with the acts under the spotlight, including the Bay Area’s world-class theatrical dance troupe Vau de Vire Society and L.A.’s high flyers Cirque Berzerk, many of the attendees showed off ingenious homespun costumes, inspired by the verses of “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” the dearly departed guest of honor’s A-B-C book of whimsical ways to die. What follows is a tribute to both Gorey and the dynamic cultural institution his twisted vision made possible.
A is for action they had at the ball.
B is for bosoms that came one and all.
C is for corsets in which they were bound.
D is for danger that skulked with no sound.
E is for envy: “I made my own dress!”
The Edwardian Ball comes to L.A. and finds a large and well-costumed crowd.
Ramie Becker, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Last Saturday was Los Angeles’ first Edwardian Ball — in modern times, anyway — and as far as impeccable costumes go, Angelenos brought their A game. It was circus, it was steam-punk, Edwardian, Edward Gorey-ian and much more. Corseted gowns made out of rich brocades and velvets were de rigueur for women, while men donned top hats, spats and grommeted leather vests. As far as makeup went, many took their cue directly from Gorey imagery, with pale faces and dark rimmed eyes. For all those who favor the cutting-edge of anachronistic fashion, the scene was a designer’s dream and a singles paradise.
The Tower Theatre’s ornate interior was bathed in red, green and violet lighting that provided the theatricality, and the freely flowing absinthe provided the courage. Said one man on the prowl, “I’m determined to find a wife here tonight, or even better, a mistress!” Apparently, several hundred others came with similar intentions, and by 9 p.m. the bar was packed and the main improperly air conditioned ballroom was heating up with ballroom dancing. Who knew the waltz could be so hot and sweaty?
On stage, smoky-voiced chanteuse Jill Tracy belted out torch songs. Neo-cabaret band Rosin Coven reunited with Cirque Berzerk to perform song-and-dance circus pieces complete with contortionists, aerialists and dancing marionettes. Elysium Dance Theater brought out the dark drama with a trio of ghostly dancers performing Martha Graham-like choreography. San Francisco’s performance collective Vau de Vire Society took up the Gorey torch in a dance piece which acted out the author’s classic story “The Tuning Fork.” (read full article)
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Angelinos poured into the Tower Theater Saturday night to get a taste of the Edwardian nightlife – the Edward Gorey nightlife, that is.
The ball and show, featuring LA’s Cirque Berzerk in partnership with Edwardian Ball co-creators Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society, was an hours-long festival of music, dance, costume and absinthe, billed as a tribute to Edward Gorey, the writer and illustrator famous for the pen-and-ink opening credits of Masterpiece Theatre and his own macabre and hilarious books.
“We’re going to end up with an elegant, slightly tattered top-hat celebration,” Rosin Coven’s Justin Katz said in what was, more or less, an accurate description.
The night did not go off completely without a hitch, as the LAFD showed up while people were still arriving, and deemed the admittedly run-down theater at capacity. Despite that brief snag, the Edwardian Ball’s first foray into LA after nine years in San Francisco was an unqualified success.
Producers looked all over the city for a venue before settling Downtown. “It was very, very hard to find the right home,” Katz said. “It’s a beautiful theater, but a lot of work had to be done,” since the theater has been unused for years. Katz credited the downtown arts scene with being “instrumental” in helping the group get into the space, as well as the theater owners, who went to “great lengths” to fix up the space.
The music on Saturday, by DJ Xian and Rebekah Del Rio, among others, was outstanding. The dancing was great, and the corsets (by Dark Garden) were spectacular. (read full article)
“It seemed like the thing to do,” says a tall, thin man named Slim, asked what inspired his costume for our city’s first Edwardian Ball. A tiny candle flickers inside the ornate Chinese-palace lantern strapped to his head. He is swathed in silk brocade. His face and long, curling nails are painted gold.
“I look at the evening as just another lovely excuse to dress up,” he says. “I went to the previous ball and there were several of us in orientalia, so there must be something in the air.”
He twiddles his fingers at those words. The Edwardian Ball is a San Francisco three-day-weekend tradition that honors the artist and writer Edward Gorey. Now Los Angeles is finally being inducted into the Gorey cult of gloom and decadence.
The venue – downtown’s venerable Tower Theater – is appropriately ornate and decrepit, with genuine peeling ceilings and gilded walls. The women are dark-haired, pale-fleshed and lovely, spilling inappropriately out of their corsets. When I go upstairs to the balcony, I can see Slim’s lantern glowing softly in the darkness, swaying in time with the strange, swoony-woony yowling of a theremin.
Guests are playing fast and loose with the concept of “Edwardian.” The purists are dressed up as Gorey characters: murderesses, tormented ballerinas, vampires, bats, flappers, barons, dandies, sleuths, mysterious gentlemen in fur coats, that kind of thing. Rosin Coven, the group of Berkeley lounge musicians who thought up the ball and produce it each year, intended the event to be a celebration of Gorey’s work and life. At the last one, in San Francisco, a group of people showed up as the entire cast of doomed little alphabetical children from Gorey’s satirical Victorian cautionary tale The Gashlycrumb Tinies, all 26 of them. Slim was going to come as Hector, as in “H is for Hector smothered under a rug.” But another fellow beat him to it. The guy was shorter, but he raised the bar too high. “Oh, he was amazing,” Slim exclaims. “He wore two black-and-white rugs back to back, with only his head and two sad little eyes peeping out.”
Period-reenactment types are wearing vintage military uniforms and large curling moustaches. Other lazy – or maybe just practical – types throw on a top hat, goop on some black eyeliner and call it a day. A few metaphysical types are dressed as pirates. Pirates? I suppose the Edwardian period had some of those as well. (read full article)
On the evening of Saturday January 31st hundreds of revelers descended upon the decaying Tower Theater in Downtown Los Angeles for an evening of art, music and creative fashion. The very first Edwardian Ball had landed in Southern California. The response was both enthusiastic and unforgettable.
Even at the very start of the night the venue was already over flowing with a sea of people in costumes ranging from the Victorian era to Burning Man types with glow in the dark accessories. It was hands down one of the most eclectic crowds to ever gather in such a setting, sporting a very healthy representation from all the generations presently dwelling in the City of Angels.
This was not the typical glam scene with nothing but pretty young kids. It was a crowd marked by character faces from youthful scenesters to the WWII generation, making for some of the greatest people watching I’ve had in at least a decade. What was equally significant was how respectful everyone behaved with regard to sharing space for a night. There was no ageism, scene hauteur or other negativity often played out in the darkness of a Los Angeles night. I have no idea if that was due to people taking up the spirit of a time when people had manners or if it was sheer communal joy for a shared passion. Either way, it was beautiful and set the tone for the night. (read full article)
“There’s no doubt about it – we San Franciscans love to play dress-up. From the towering Beach Blanket Babylon-esque bonnets at the annual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Sunday to the costumed free-for-all of All Hallows Eve, the more elaborate the excuse to throw on some gay apparel, the more elaborate the apparel. This makes the annual Edwardian Ball tailor-made for San Francisco’s tailored maids and madcap chaps. An eager homage to the off-kilter imaginings of Edward Gorey, whose oft-pseudonymous picture books delved into the exotic, the erotic, and the diabolic within prim and proper, vaguely British settings, the Edwardian Ball is a midwinter ode to woe. From the haunting disharmonies of Rosin Coven to the voluptuous vigor of the Vau de Vire Society’s reenactment of Gorey tales, the ball – which now encompasses an entire three-day weekend – is a veritable bastion of dark-hued revelry and unfettered fetish.”
“A recent Saturday, 9:40pm: It was as if the clock had been turned back a hundred years…” full article
“The Sunday night variety show of music, dance, stories, fashion and cabaret marks the finale of the three-day Edwardian fête at the Great American Music Hall. Now in its eighth year, the Edwardian Ball weekend has become a staple of San Francisco culture with its elaborate costumed revelry of Gorey-inspired doom and gloom.” full article
“The Great American Music Hall (859 O’Farrell) will explode with the Gorey-inspired, the unnatural and the fantastic during three days of turn-of-the-century time travel.
GAMH hosts its second annual Edwardian Ball Weekend from Friday, Jan 25 through Sunday, Jan 27. The three-night gathering of gore and glamour celebrates the life and work of macabre storyteller Edward Gorey and brings Edwardian style and 20 performers to each themed night…” full article
Put on your cravats and corsets for a night out at the ball – the Edwardian Ball, that is. The folks who put this event on every year aren’t goths of the Cure-listening, eyeliner-wearing ilk, however; they’re literary cool cats who understand that fixing up and looking dapper are essential to setting the right mood. The Edwardian Ball was conceived in homage to that quintessential moodster Edward Gorey, whose funereal, cross-hatched drawings accompany tales that ooze with brooding tots, juvenile mischief, and droll tragedy. It’s a chance for lovers of the macabre to indulge in anemic doom and gloom, with acts ranging from avant-cabaret to classic can-can to the moth-eaten stylings of pagan-lounge act Rosin Coven. Haunted forest installations, antique photo booths, and the performance of a different Gorey book every year are all reasons to join in the revelry. (go to article)
“You can’t keep a good ghoul down: Gorey-inspired Edwardian ball expands, yet still does turnaway business” – Reyhan Harmanci, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco is routinely slagged by other cities for being unfashionable, for pioneering socks-over-sandals, for encouraging fashion’s function over form and for letting “casual Friday” be the standard for dressing every day.
But no city can get behind a costume event quite like San Francisco.
Saturday, a crowd of top hats, tails, corseted dresses, men dressed as Death and women dressed as bats, with a number of powdered faces and outrageously teased hair, gathered outside the Great American Music Hall for the Sixth Annual Edwardian Ball. (full article)
The Sixth Annual Edwardian Ball touts itself as a San Francisco tradition since “the turn of the century.” Paradox Media and Berkeley’s Rosin Coven troupe invite devotees of writer/artist Edward Gorey’s macabre whimsy to participate in a masquerade-ball-cum-burlesque-cabaret. The party of the year for goths, vintage clothes experts, and old-timey theatre fanatics, the night features the music of piano chanteuse Jill Tracy, the acrobatic dance and circus theatrics of the Vau de Vire Society, the burlesque of the Diamond Daggers, and DJs Miz Margo and Jay T. Tempura. (JG)
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Is it surprising that Edward Gorey — the late author and illustrator known for macabre children’s books — has a saintlike status in San Francisco, where Halloween festivities rule? “The Evil Garden,” the fifth annual Edwardian Ball in his honor, provided such a delicious opportunity for ghoulish whimsy — and costumes — that dozens of eccentrics lined up outside well before the doors opened at the Cat Club in SoMa’s demimonde.The love of Gorey brought all the misfits — goths, history buffs, puppeteers, Ren Fair fans — together to let their freak flags fly, in a wholly respectable way. Guys sported dapper suits with cravats, canes and top hats; women wore long black skirts and corsets. A dread-headed Heather Gallagher, a.k.a. “Camera Girl,” decked her top hat and Edwardian-era gown with little pink flowers. Another woman removed her motorcycle jacket, revealing a peasant blouse, and replaced it with a red velvet duster. Voila! From biker to pirate.Stepping inside put attendees right into the pages of Gorey’s black-and- white story “The Evil Garden,” with vines climbing to the ceiling and googly- eyed bugs crouching on the wall. The sounds of classical violins swirled from the speakers, and in the back room — in an allusion to “The Disrespectful Summons” — waltzers twirled on the dance floor. Yes, waltzers. [full story & photos]
Wednesday January 19th, 2005Blood and Gorey – Five years after Edward Gorey’s death, Paradox Media and the Cat Club present the fifth annual Edwardian Ball, an event that brings Gorey’s macabre and sinister pen-and-ink drawings and writings of a doomed late-Victorian society to life through live music, theater, dancing, and costumery. This year’s celebration features productions of The Evil Garden and The Disrespectful Summons. Theatrical performance and design group Puppets and Pie transforms the Cat Club with Gorey-inspired characters and art, black-and-white forests, giant bugs buzzing from the rafters, and an antique photo booth. Edwardian house band Rosin Coven provide the soundtrack. Jill Tracy, DJs Miz Margo, Decay, and Jay T Tempura, and Vau de Vire Society also perform. 9 p.m.-3 a.m., Cat Club, 1190 Folsom, S.F. $15, $12 in Edwardian or Gorey-esque attire. (510) 506-2210, www.edwardianball.com. (Yenie Ra)
Tuesday January 18th, 2005Ghoulish garb, fanciful theater, preposterous puppetry, morbid music, devious dancing, and much more mischief abounds at “The Evil Garden,” the Fifth Annual Edwardian Ball. Based on the atmosphere of delightfully deadly tales by late author/illustrator Edward Gorey, the Ball encourages attendees to dress up in period-appropriate attire (basically 1901-1919) – meaning long jackets, top hats, and walking sticks for the men, and corsets, ornate dresses, and white gloves for the women. Entertainment includes two Gorey stories interpreted for the stage with accompaniment by Pagan Lounge ensemble Rosin Coven, song and piano by fiendish femme fatale Jill Tracy, aerial antics courtesy of the Vau de Vire Society, and waltzes, polkas, and mazurkas dished out by a variety of DJs. (TP)