My Chicago Home

My Chicago Home
How can we best live as modern, active contemplatives where prairie meets city?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dancing With Mr. Darcy

What a great movie!
Last night, my husband, our 16-year-old daughter and I drove in freezing rain for an hour, past suburban tract homes, through acres of prairie and forest, to a Regency Ball

Think Jane Austin, and Pride and Prejudice: high-waisted muslin gowns, and scarlet, military frock coats.

Our menu reflected Regency tastes: roast beef with horseradish sauce, "Duchess" stuffed potatoes, apple-cranberry compote, brussels sprouts with cabbage and bacon, ginger and short bread cookies.

A couple sang "Scarlborough Faire," and pieces from the "Beggars Opera." We English line danced, all ages mingling, bowing, twirling, clasping hands.

The Regency Era  is addictive.  I've heard of people watching the Pride and Prejudice movie multiple times consecutively. I've read the book and watched the movie three times, since discovering the Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen version. Friends we met at the "ball" named their dog Mr. Darcy after Jane Austin's melancholic hero. I've had women laughingly tell me, "I belong in that era." My daughter and many of her friends have read and reread Jane Austin's book.

Lining up for a "set" of English country dance
Of course, we're also talking the era of the Napoleanic wars. Upper and lower classes were sharply divided. But the renaissance in music and the fine arts among the upper classes of that time provides an irresistible backdrop for a more romantic and gracious look at life. 

We need plenty of "grace" in all forms in our modern world. When I registered my daughter for a couple classes at the local high school, the counselor told me incoming freshmen were shocked at their first school dance, to see students "bumping and grinding."

"You're talking pelvis to pelvis? Not all students dance that way," I protested.

Boys with Regency attitude
Her response? "By sophomore year everybody's doing it."

Thank God for the Regency Ball! I saw no girls "balling" their eyes out in the bathroom. No one being edged out if they cared to join in. My daughter and her friends happily joined hands and got into the act. My husband and I were newly-released from our sick beds and had as much energy as over boiled noodles. But we still hit the dance floor, moving along with at least 100 other people through complicated figures of English Dance.

Then I sat out and just watched. Long, happy lines of dancers laughing at their missteps, skipping, circling, smiling at strangers.

No "bump and grind." 

"Honor your partner," the caller reminded us, at the end of each set. 

"Honor your partner."

Dancing with grace

Click here to learn more about the Regency Ball:

Photos (except movie cover) by Marianna Bartholomew

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos! It makes one yearn for the past.