So, since work is a bit slow right now, and pretty much has been all week, I thought I’d liven up my blog a bit with a few stories of recent events.
To start off with, last Saturday (6/14) was a big day for me. Not only was it the Annual General Meeting for my group, the Historical Citizens Association, it was also the day of the Social Dance Irregulars’ Summer Victorian Ball (held in Pasadena). As you can imagine, quite the full day planned!
I was up late on Friday (6/13) getting last minute things together, of course. Sorting through paperwork and doing some filing that I had never managed to get around to earlier. =)
Saturday morning dawned much too early, but I got up anyways. Soon enough, I had my last minute items packed up in my car, and I headed out to Buena Park to pick up Jennifer Mulvey (my carpooling buddy). Even with managing to drag myself out of bed at a decent (if not downright early) hour for a Saturday morning (around 6am), I still somehow managed to leave my place a few minutes behind my planned for departure time. Sheesh! Upon my arrival at Jenn’s house, she quickly threw her stuff into my car and we took off for the Meeting. We had just about an hour to get there (since the meeting was supposed to start at 11am and it was about 10am when we left her house). However, we seemed to hit every kind of imaginable traffic on the 5 Freeway, Northbound. Just my luck, it seems! This happened the last time we had a meeting in Burbank, too! Here I was thinking we actually had a good amount of time to arrive, but that wasn’t to be the case. At one point (near where the 5 and the 605 meet), we were going a whopping 3 mph! What a drag!
Finally, we arrived, and the meeting was able to quickly get underway at 11:20am. (It was kinda funny seeing the mad whirlwind of getting us inside & settled quickly, take a deep breath, and then proceed immediately to calling the meeting to order! =)
As president, I got to do a lot of talking this meeting, since it was a general meeting to update the membership on what’s happened with the group lately (especially with regards to our 501(c)(3) status recognition) and what direction we (the board and the group) would like to go in the future with regards to various administrative details. One topic that I brought up, and it was well received, was to reinstate having/hosting workshops on a variety of topics. (So far, we’ve only done one and that was back in March/April of 2007 and it was on the topic of Victorian Games, especially Parlor games).
This meeting was different, too, in the fact that this was the first time we got to incorporate a conference call feature, so that those who couldn’t drive to physically attend the meeting could have the option of calling in and still being able to participate. It was really nice, I must admit. (So a big “Thank You” to Maegen, if she’s reading this! =)
Fortunately, we pretty much kept on track during the meeting and quickly moved through my list of topics to cover. At 1:10pm we called the meeting to a close (so we almost ended on time!) and everyone seemed pretty satisfied with the meeting in general.
Seeing as many of us at the meeting were also planning on attending the SDI ball later on that same day/evening, we were unable to stick around chatting after the meeting. The gals (Lana, Terri, Jen R, Jenn M., & myself) had to high-tail it to Lana’s house to start our preparations for the evening. Unless you’ve actually been a part of the getting ready for a ball process, it is hard to imagine the amount of time it really does involve in getting ready. Of course, having others around to help with hair and dressing is definitely a boon and makes the whole process much smoother (and definitely more manageable).
We soon settled into routine. After getting dressed into the undergarments first (shoes before corset, as we have learned the hard way that its easier this way), Lana started working on Jennifer Mulvey’s hair while the rest of us worked on other items related to our outfits and makeup, etc. Soon, Jenn’s hair was done, and she started on my hair while Lana began working on Jen R’s. Terri managed to snap a few photos of us as the 4 of us were busy with hairdos. When Jen & my hairstyles were finished (great job Jenn, I loved it!), Lana began working on Terri’s hairdo. The Jen, Jenn, & I all began getting dressed into the layers of skirts and support structures (hoops or bustles) needed to pull off these outfits. =) When Terri’s hair was done, it was finally time for Lana to have her own hair worked upon, so Jenn M. set about fixing up Lana’s hair.
By 5:00pm, we were just about ready to leave, with our little group doing final touches (jewelry, etc.) and packing up our stuff back into the vehicles so we could take off for dinner. We were out the door about a quarter after and on our way to the restaurant! We hit a small bit of traffic, but soon pushed through and we arrived at the restaurant about 6:00pm. (Our reservations were for 5:45pm, but fortunately Tom, Jeff, & the Hensleys were already at the restaurant and had a table waiting for us).
Someone should have taken a photograph of the waiters/staff’s face as we arrived. It was priceless! They were in amazement at our dresses. J A reaction we always enjoy, I must admit. (Obviously, we don’t get all dressed up in these things to be hidden away and NOT noticed!).
As we had parked in their lot behind the restaurant (no real street-side parking or parking up front), we had entered from a rear entrance…which was odd (felt like sneaking in, I must say)…but it fortunately was right near where our table was set up. Once the wait-staff saw our outfits, and how much space we’d each take up while sitting down, they quickly added another square table to the ones already pushed together and reset the table settings to give the 9 of us a bit more elbow room. =)
Dinner was yummy (if a bit pricy) and we all had a good time chatting away. Unfortunately, we couldn’t linger as much as we probably would have liked, due to our time constraint (with the doors to the dance opening at 7:30pm), but we did manage to enjoy ourselves and not rush too quickly through our meal.
Fortunately, none of us spilled during dinner (always something to consider when wearing one of these historical outfits – especially the lighter shades). We soon settled our bill and were on our way to the actual dance. We had quickly to re-divvy up who was driving with whom, and then pile into vehicles and traverse the couple of miles through downtown Pasadena to the site of the dance, Throop Memorial Unitarian Church.
One of the downsides to this location (as it is a smaller venue than say the Pasadena Masonic Lodge) is the limited parking for guests. In reality, all parking is street-side parking, which means all the guests of the ball had to find parking space on the nearby residential streets and walk to the church. Not that I’m complaining about the distance of the walk (I’m sure it was very beneficial to our health to get out and stretch our legs a bit before the dance), but hopefully the neighbors are used to and don’t mind the jamming of their streets by strangers in ‘fancy dress’ outfits. =)
We all arrived at the ball with just enough time to check in, receive our dance cards (and tiny pencil), and deposit our wraps/bags at a table off to the side of the dance floor before the first dance, the Grand March, began. The floor was certainly crowded as everyone wanted to participate in this first (and possibly easiest) dance of the evening! Throughout the evening, the crowdedness of the dance floor would ebb and flow depending upon which dance was being performed. (Not as many takers on the Polkas, I must say – although it was certainly fun to watch those that really knew how to make their way around the floor!)
I had foolishly hoped that by sewing on some ribbons to act as extra ties on my slippers, I might actually keep my shoes on throughout the night while dancing. Such was not the case, unfortunately. Only a few steps into my first waltz for the evening and I could feel my right slipper working its way off my foot. Ugh! It became so distracting (and hard to dance with a slipper threatening to slide off and flap about one’s foot as the ties were still firmly attached to the ankle) that I eventually paused long enough in that dance to quickly untie the strings and toss the offending slipper to the side of the dance floor, and quickly resumed waltzing with my partner for the dance. We finished out the dance much better than we had started since I could now concentrate on waltzing (and not on trying to keep my shoe on my foot) and I had a great time dancing with ‘one shoe on and one shoe off’. =) The next dance I sat out while I attempted to return my shoe to its proper place (on my foot – with strings tightly tied). No easy task in a corset and period underwear, I must say!
While I thoroughly enjoyed the evening of dancing, the recurring problem of my dance slippers did mar my experience a tad (but not too much). It certainly made an interesting topic of conversation! Overall, it was a pleasant way to spend the evening, with old friends and new acquaintances. (Although I must say that I found this crowd a bit more reserved/stand-offish than the crowd I’m used to dealing with at the ‘Jane Austen Evening’ held in January. But perhaps that can just be attributed to the fact that the Summer Victorian Ball is less well attended than their other Victorian balls, and so it’s a slightly different crowd than the one that normally attends).
The Spanish Dance that wrapped up the first set (“El Coyote”) was immensely fun and entertaining, as it’s designed as a social mixer. The couples form into various circles, and one odd person out (the ‘Coyote’ ) is stuck in the middle of the circle. Those dancers in the circle first move/skip left for 8 beats, to the time of the music, and then move/skip to the right, and at the end of those bars of music, the Coyote should have positioned him or herself in front of a dance from the circle and can swoop that dancer into a waltz, which leaves the rest of the dancers scrambling to find a partner to waltz around the circle (until the music tells you to reform and start circling again). Obviously, someone will be left out and that person is now the new ‘Coyote’. The tricky part (and the part that causes the most fun and entertainment) is the rule that no one may dance with the same partner twice throughout the dance! As the dance progresses it becomes ore of a mad dash/scramble to find a new waltzing partner in time (so that one isn’t left to become the Coyote). I thoroughly enjoyed this dance!
The Jefferson & Liberty Dance (a contra dance) was too slow/simple for my taste, but it was nice do perform a dance that resembled some of the dances we do at the Jane Austen Evening (or one of the many month English Country Dance practices scattered throughout Southern California).
Another interesting facet of the evening was the choice in music for the Virginia Reel. I can’t fathom why they decided upon the tune(s) that was performed, as they actually changed the tempo (dramatically) in the midst of the dance and slowed it down to make portions of it statelier! The Reel is, well, um….a Reel! It should be fast paced and fun. (And the way we’ve danced it in the past at Civil War events, among others, you get faster and faster as you near the end. That’s part of the fun of the dance!).
Also, I can’t imagine why one would break up the separate figures that comprise a quadrille (the Lancers Quadrille) into practically three separate dances. We would practice the first set of figures, then dance it to the music, and then move on to the next set of figures without referencing any of the previously learned step. That was it – once we danced it to music, we were done with it. We didn’t string the three sets of figures together to form one (long, but beautiful/elegant) dance, which just boggled my mind. Plus, by the time we walked through each part in addition to dancing it, we were on the dance floor with the same partner for what felt like 3 separate dances (even though it was just one)…and it took a good 30-45 minutes to accomplish the entire set of figures!
And a final side note on the choices for the evening of dancing – when you have a certain number of couples required for a set dance (in this case, 4 couples per set), don’t leave the dancers who have already formed sets waiting in limbo while you call out to the non-dancers to try to finish assembling a partial set. We literally waited 10 minutes on the floor while they tried to find enough willing dancers to finish the partial set. Unbelievable! At some point you just need to say “I’m sorry, but if we can’t get any more dancers to fill out the set, we will need to ask you to sit this dance out”. At one point I and a few other ladies started leaning against the wall while we waited for them to find willing (additional) dancers since we were so tired. The dance itself was easy (and fun), but I think it would have been easier for them to find enough dancers (quickly) if they had moved this dancer to an earlier position/set in the night’s program.
Speaking of the dance program, here’s the dance program based on what is currently listed online (www.victoriandance.org) and my memory. The actual Dance Card, listing the dances, was left at home. And as I now can’t get into my house to check the program (while its being fumigated), I guess that for now I’ll just have to hope that what I list is mostly correct. =)
1. Grand March
4. El Coyote (Spanish Dance)
2. Sicilian Circle
4. Jefferson & Liberty (a Contra Dance)
3. French Quadrille (3 figures) – aka Lancers Quadrille
2. Portland Fancy
3. Polka (Fireman’s)
4. Virginia Reel
5. Farewell Waltz
After the close of the Dance, just a few minutes shy of midnight, everyone gathered up their belongings and set out. While our group was gathering up our various items, I checked on my camera case (which I was borrowing from my father) and discovered to my utter amazement/horror that the cord for charging the batter was now missing. It was there when I had arrived, but now it was gone! Fortunately the camera, extra batteries, and the extra memory sticks were all present. Just the cord to the batty charger was missing. I and a few others frantically looked around the nearby area (behind and in the couch cushions) to no avail. It was just gone. What a damper on the mood of the entire evening!
After a few minutes of searching, we were reminded by the organizers that we *must* leave the premises as it was now midnight and we were in danger of breeching their contract. So we left. We all said our goodbyes outside (briefly) and walked back to our respective cars. Jeff & Jennifer Rosbrugh rode with me as we had previously booked a room at a nearby motel (good planning for us!).
Before Jennifer and I got out of our outfits and took down our hair, we quickly took a few photos of ourselves to make sure we had some reference shots (especially of the hair!). And then we all quickly got ready for bed. I was certainly tired, so I must have fallen asleep shortly after laying down. (Which is pretty amazing considering what a light sleeper I am and how much difficulty I have in falling asleep in ‘new’ places!).
Sunday morning (6/15), we all managed to drag ourselves out of our (respective) beds in order to participate in the tail end of the complimentary “Continental” Breakfast. (I always laugh at the choices usually offered at a breakfast labeled “continental”. Usually in America it means a few pastries, a couple of pieces of fruit, and coffee/juice.) This place actually impressed me a tad with their selection of breakfast items. It branched out slightly from the ‘usual fare’ and offered a Self-Serve Waffle iron (with a machine nearby that dispensed waffle batter). So I of course had to try it out. (I fortunately was exposed to these kind of waffle irons in college, since they would occasionally bring them out in the cafeteria for “Breakfast for Dinner” nights).
After breakfast, we relaxed a bit longer in our room before packing up the last of our stuff, checking out, and heading out into the (already hot) day.
For me, I went found a nearby ATM (as I had depleted all my on hand cash at the previous night’s dinner), and then drove back to the Restaurant we had eaten at the night before. I was hoping to find them open, or at least a posted telephone number, so I could find out if by any chance my camera’s cord had been lost (and found) at the restaurant. But no such luck. The restaurant was closed, and no information as to open hours or contact information was listed outside. Eventually I was able to get ahold of Lana, who managed to track down the restaurant’s telephone number for me. I copied it down, and then dialed…and got their voice mail (to be expected, really). I left a message hoping someone might return my call later. (Aside – I still have yet to receive a return call from them).
After my disappointing (and unproductive) side trip, I drove back down to the OC and decided to stop in Buena Park since I knew where the Kohl’s was and I really needed to get myself a new pair of jeans (to replace the once good pair that has now worn through). Plus I was hungry for lunch by now (it was around 1pm). So I stopped at the Kohl’s determined to find myself a pair of jeans. I searched and searched, but at first I couldn't find the correct style of jeans (the style: Lee "Natural" Bootcut, just below the waist) in the ‘jeans section’.
By this time, I’m hungry, still a bit tired from the previous day/night, and getting a bit frustrated (understatement? =); I decided to take a break from looking (and use the facilities) so that I’d have a fresh pair of eyes to look again. When I came back to the jeans section, I finally found one little stack of my style hidden amongst a different style (same brand) on the bottom shelf. And, they actually had one pair in my size...and marked 80% off/Clearance!!!! Score!
I quickly tried on that pair, just to double check that it was the right size (I was really pretty sure, but since I wanted to try on a pair of shorts that I had found nearby – which didn’t end up fitting afterall, too bad – I figured I might as well double check the pants while I was in the dressing room), and went to the cash register section to check out.
Unfortunately, there was only one cashier open. So I along with every other shopper that suddenly appeared, ready to check out, was stuck in a LONG line that didn’t seem to move. They kept calling for cashiers to come to the front to assist in check out, but no one was rushing to the front.
Eventually, the jewelry counter called for the next customer, and I headed over thinking it would be a quick purchase. Wrong! The item rung up at FULL PRICE, and while I didn't hear her correctly when she said the price out-loud, I DID see the total price on the credit card slip she handed me to sign. And I said "Wait, that can't be right" and showed her the clearance price tag. So she had me sign the slip anyways, then she processed it as a 'return' item. At this point she then processed it again for purchase...and manually overrode the Full Price amount that came up on the register. Whew!
So, eventually, after 2 stores (including my previous unsuccessful shopping expedition on a weekday night) and a few headaches, I got a pair of jeans that fit me (to replace my current worn out pair) for a grand total of $8! Yea!
After that, I dropped off some items at my folks (since Buena Park isn’t that far from Garden Grove) and then headed home to Irvine. Whew! What a weekend!
Definitely one packed to the gills! =)