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What is an Edwardian Ball, Anyhow?
It would be easy to assume from its name that the Edwardian Ball's theme is the era of King Edward VII of England (1901 to 1910). It is to a degree, but there's another, more interesting Edward involved. The Edwardian Ball describes itself as "an elegant and whimsical celebration of art, music, theatre, fashion, technology, circus, and the beloved creations of the late, great author Edward Gorey."
That's all easy to say but describing the experience is harder. If it's your first time, don't be surprised if you feel a bit like Alice the moment after she stepped through the looking glass as you enter. The San Francisco Chronicle described it as "a surreal atmosphere filled with anachronistic wonders." The goings-on are a bit like the first, refined days of the Venice Carnevale, when the best-costumed attendees posture and preen, in the most sophisticated way they can.
Don't expect over-the-top production numbers at this event - they wouldn't have... had those in Edwardian times, either. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to see or do. Live musicians perform. Every year, the organizers stage a musical version of an Edward Gorey tale. Besides that, you can enjoy ballroom dancing, short stage shows, a marketplace, absinthe cocktails and some fun sideshows. And isn't it fun to just get dressed up and go to a party?
Rating the Edwardian Ball
The Edwardian Ball ranks high for ingenuity and uniqueness. Given the abundance of entertainment they provide and the long hours, the ticket price is quite a bargain.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the event is checking out everyone's costumes. Loosely in the style of Edward (either the King or the writer Mr. Gorey), they were most notable for the ingenuity and imagination each wearer put into them. Besides the strictly Edwardian look, you'll see lots of steampunk and Goth garb, too. To see some great shots of them, search Instagram for hashtag #edwardianball.
The ball is popular with a wide range of ages, from 20-something to 60-plus, making for an enjoyable mix.
Tips for Enjoying The Edwardian Ball
If you've never been to the Ball before, it can be intimidating at first. These tips and resources may help:
Almost all attendees wear costumes. You might feel a little awkward if you don't do anything at all but never fear: You don't have to over-obsess, either. Look at the photos on the Edwardian Ball website and do a few searches for Edward Gorey drawings to get some inspiration. You can put together a costume on a small budget using items from the closet, supplemented with eBay purchases: a tuxedo vest and bow tie, bowler hats, lacy gloves and costume jewelry.
Seating is limited, and you will be standing up most of the time. To avoid feeling the need to tweet "my feet were killing me by the end," consider going VIP, which gives access to seating areas.
Don't fret if you don't see a schedule on the event's website. They keep booking entertainment as it becomes available and a detailed program may not be published until a few days ahead of time.
If you want to know more about the attire or what to expect, check out About the Ball, which will be a big help.
If you want to take pictures (and you will), pocket cameras and phone cameras are allowed.
Edwardian Ball Basic Information
- The Ball stretches over two days in each location, but the program varies
- The Edwardian Ball website
- twitter: @edwardianball
- Tickets go on sale at the end of October. Buy them a few weeks ahead of time to save money and avoid sell-outs.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of reviewing the Edwardian Ball. While it has not influenced this review,TripSavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
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Edwardian Ball in San Francisco
In San Francisco, the Edwardian Ball is a two-day event, held on a Friday and Saturday in mid-January. The Friday event is called the Edwardian World’s Faire, it is less formal and includes a World's Faire Exposition, variety shows, art and a vendor marketplace.
The Edwardian Ball San Francisco Venue
The Edwardian Ball in San Francisco is held at the Regency Ballroom on Van Ness. Built in the Edwardian Era, in 1909 and done in beaux-arts style with 35-foot-tall ceilings and 22 chandeliers, it's an elegant backdrop for a fun party.
Crowd Factor at the Edwardian Ball in San Francisco
It's not unusual for a long line to form outside the door, especially before the party gets started. Veteran attendees say you should arrive about an hour before you want to get in.
Parking is somewhat hard to find near the venue. If you plan to stay very late, be sure the lot you choose will still be open when you're done.
If you enjoy The... Edwardian Ball, try the San Francisco Dickens Fair which is held from late November through December.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
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Edwardian Ball in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Ball is held in mid- February and is also a two-day event. You can find this year's dates on their website.
The Edwardian Ball Los Angeles Venue
The Edwardian Ball in Los Angeles is held at the Globe Theatre at 740 South Broadway, downtown. It dates back to 1913 and is the oldest functioning theatre on Broadway. You can find several public parking lots nearby.
Food is available from Edward's Kitchen.
Crowd Factor at the Edwardian Ball in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Edwardian ball has been going for a shorter time than the original in San Francisco, but it has quickly become just as popular. Both nights are crowded, and it's a good idea to allow an hour or more just to get in.