It was a magical Friday. At
6:45 I arrived at the Cafe Royal where I changed into my costume. With other
female guests, together, we helped each other with the many hooks and eyes,
re-adjusting tiaras etc that Ladies have to contend with. Once we
were introduced to the hosts for the evening everyone had their photographs
taken. I was very pleased with mine as I am sure that some of those taken during
the Ball (bearing in mind that Champagne and wine were freely flowing) may have
slight variations such as missing feet or possibly even out of focus, not sure
if it was the exertion of the previous dance or ...........
The Napoleon Suite was exactly as its name conjured up, with its beautiful
crystal chandeliers. Some of the costumes and jewellery were amazing, everyone
had gone to so much trouble and I felt very much at home in that era.
The host for my table and the other diners were really friendly. My dance
card was soon filled up (I think that is such a lovely idea), and I even got a
couple of dances from some of the gentlemen on other tables that had been at the
practices. Of course we were not always quite sure in which direction we were
going but it was fun nevertheless.
Regarding the space on the dance floor for a proper Viennese Waltz, it was
packed, but I realise that in the short space of an evening at a Ball we all
wish to make the most of the evening and everyone is in such good spirits that
the dancing is just a bonus.
I met some wonderful people, including two lovely Russian girls (with equally
lovely names, especially when pronounced with a Russian dialect) and an
enchanting couple who were beautifully dressed (in costumes they made themselves
with very authentic jewellery and medals) and indeed I introduced myself and
told them so and I was very surprised and delighted when they told me that they
had been admiring my costume whilst I was dancing. A real accolade!
The Coldstream Guards were very striking in their red uniforms as you would
expect and the Ball started with the entry of the ball guests and straight into
a Viennese Waltz to Kaiserwaltzer, Spanish Waltz, Polka and Two-Step and Russian
Ballet and then after the interval we began with La Tempete, a Watlz, Polka
Mazurka, another Spanish Waltz, Schottische and the Viennese Waltz to Blue
Danube. Die Fledermaus was changed to a Gallop, rather than the
Quadrille and as you can imagine there were many breathless dancers at the end
of it as the music got faster and faster. It was a wonderful end to the evening
although it didn't quite stop there as as I was leaving someone said to me,
'have you checked your raffle tickets' and to my surprise I had won a prize, a
Chelsea Arts Yearbook, so I shall use it as an album for any Balls that I
Hints & Tips For Finding A Costume
Being a working girl I found it difficult to find any costume hire shops that
were open after working hours/weekends, close enough, which not only causes a
problem for collecting a garment/let alone trying anything on, but also for
returning said garment/s. I also tried the internet for costume hire in London
and again came up against early closing/no weekends.
I contacted my local theatre and the wardrobe lady was excellent and in
the end I hired a beautiful costume complete with gloves, jewellery and
hairpieces all for only £20. The costumes alone in London started at £75 so that
was a real bonus.
As I work at a College which has its own Drama Department, I find that I have
another outlet which I can make use of. I am not sure whether other
colleges/Universities who have a Drama Department would hire out garments to
non-members of staff but it's worth a try.
There are other costumiers in London: One
of them is Angels, based in Hendon. Costumes start from around £70+VAT.
Opening Times: 9-5:30 (Mon-Fri) with last costume fitting at 4:30.
Telephone Number: (44) 0 207 836 5678.
For exquisite jewellery pieces and tiaras,
a wonderful website is:
13 The Mall Antiques Arcade,
359 Upper Street
Camden Passage, Islington
London N1 OPD
Telephone: (44) 0 20 7354 0058
Opening hours: Tues-Fri 10:00-4:30, Sat 10:00-5:30
Back to everyday life now ..... as far as
Waltzing goes, but I have the May Ball to look forward to. In a slightly
different century, I am going to a Medieval Banquet this coming Saturday at
Hatfield House. I have just borrowed a costume from the wardrobe here at
Goldsmiths College - not such a romantic period but I am sure I will find myself
transported into another world for a while!!!!!