Gaskell Ball and Dickens Fair

In December I went to the Gaskell Ball and Dickens Fair in the bay area with my friend Danita. This was my first time at both of these events, in fact it was my first time for Victorian era dance.

Danita & Dan at the Gaskell Ball

Danita & Dan at the Gaskell Ball

The Gaskell Ball is an evening of Victorian (during the reign of Queen Victoria) dances including waltz, polka, schottische, mazurka, and English set dances such as Roger de Coverly. The ball is formal, with period dress encouraged but not required, and the majority of the people with at least an approximation of Victorian wear. I’m good at waltzing, have some experience with English, and got a bit better at polka during the evening, but the dances were a challenge to me. Fortunately it is all in good fun and people were accepting of my efforts. We went to an afternoon workshop on the dances, which helped. The ball is held six times a year at the Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland. I imagine I will go again. Danita really enjoys both the period dress and the atmosphere of the dance. The photo shows Danita in an elegant ball dress made by her mom Darla, the second most beautiful dress that evening, and me in clothing borrowed from Danita’s dad Chris. More photos of Danita’s dress are on PicasaWeb, including ones showing her entire dress, which the photo above does not.

On Sunday we attended the Dickens Fair in Daly City (San Francisco). Danita and her family go to this regularly and sometimes work there, but it was my first time. The fair is Christmas shopping event themed on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with a staff dressed in period costume. There is also dancing for much of the day, as well as theatre performances. So I danced some more, and also wandered and looked and enjoyed.

This was a magical weekend for me, and an introduction to yet another type of dance, to add to my contra dance, sacred circle dance, and peace dance experiences. Thanks to Nancy for giving us a place to stay and good conversations.

About Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.
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