Top hats and tails, can-can dancers, corsets, cravats, and feathers. The annual Edwardian Ball at the Regency in San Francisco is a decadent celebration of steampunk and neo-Victorian styles and of the morbidly delightful illustrations of Edward Gorey.
At this year’s ball, I donned my best cameo and combat boots and perused stands at the Vendor Bazaar, proffering everything from handmade fedoras to necklaces and rings made of vintage watch innards (a la Etsy). Then my boyfriend and I headed upstairs, past the lurid green Absinthe Bar, to wait in the long queue for our seven seconds of stardom at the Flipbook Portrait Studio. We choreographed a quick twirl and dip, and got our mini-books printed on the spot.
The upstairs Museum of Wonders and Edwardian Odditorium—true to their names—featured a bizarre blend of performance art, shovel strumming, and taxidermy. We wheedled our way past the fortune tellers and living statues and back to the ballroom for the main stage extravaganza.
The Flynn Creek Circus’s trapeze duo flew overhead, linking arms, legs (and necks) in midair constellations, and no sooner had they finished than the crowd parted on the ballroom floor and an eruption of crinoline signaled the start of Le Can-Can Bijou. We had front-row seats for the Moulin Rouge, but like Cinderellas at the World’s Faire we had to leave before midnight, escorted back to the 21st century by the accordion, cello, and vibraphone of Ball founders Rosin Coven.