My First Country Dance

My First Country Dance

I have been a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America for at least four years, but in that time I have only been able to attend two meetings (a snow storm stopped me from making it to a third one). Where I live, I am within a few hours of three different chapters, two of which are very active and one (the closest) which is sporadic due to changing leadership. The problem is not the JASNA groups, it is me. (I also belong to multiple local writers groups who meet on the same days as the JASNA groups.) So, I was more than tickled when the stars aligned in January and the Southeast Virginia group joined up with the Williamsburg Heritage Dancers for a Holiday English Country Dance and Jane Austen Celebration.

 

As the weekend drew nearer, my excitement grew, much as I imagine the Bennet ladies at Longbourn prior to an assembly at Meryton. My dilemma was my attire. I had purchased the materials and pattern for a regency morning dress and pelisse, but was not brave enough to begin the project and had not yet secured a seamstress. Besides, this was a dance, not a morning visit. Oh well, a simple dress would have to do. A few days prior to the event, I announced my intentions to my family and was surprised when my sixteen year old daughter (the one who has sworn she will never read Austen and thus condemned herself to it as an English requirement at some point in her schooling) agreed to go along. Once I recovered from the shock, I was even more pleased.

 

The day was beautiful and we arrived during the first dance, much like the Netherfield party at the Meryton ball. Having never attended such an event before, we found a seat and observed. The dancers ranged from well costumed and self-assured to jeans and stumbling and laughing. A marvelous time was had by all! As we were in Williamsburg, there was a lovely mixture of colonial and regency with a liberal smattering of officers, both red and blue coats.

 

 

 

A short time after we arrived we were joined by four lovely young ladies from William and Mary who were part of the Heritage Dancers. They succeeded in getting me and my daughter to join in a dance where we did not disrupt the line or disgrace ourselves too horribly. Overall, it was a lovely time. They were adamant we come back for the George Washington Ball in March, but, like everything else, it falls on another hectic Saturday.

 

 

Though it was mostly a dance with the Jane Austen Society delegated to a side room, there were several people playing card games from the time. A couple behind us was trying to learn whist while the ladies at the table to the right in the picture below were playing Marrying Mr. Darcy, the card game.

 

Happily, the 2019 JASNA Annual Meeting takes place in Williamsburg so I might actually make it to two events in one year AND my dress should be done by then since it will be on the cover of my next book.

 

Have you had the opportunity to attend any Austen events? What were your thoughts?

12 Responses to My First Country Dance

  1. I have never attended a Jane Austen event. There are none in my area at least non that I can find. But I think it would be a lot of fun, after all I have my bonnet I won in the last contest!

    • I highly recommend them. Although I was only able to attend 2 actual JASNA events, I also attended a Regency era fashion show and an Emma lecture over the years. The best part is spending time with people who love Austen as much as you do.
      Check out your local colleges/universities. Ours does a Great Lives series which always includes a few authors and Austen has been included more than once. Museums sometimes have special events like the fashion show I mentioned.

  2. Oh what fun. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad your daughter had fun. It was inevitable you know. She may become a Janeite after all and demand her own dress.

    • Oh, I do not doubt the dress as she is an actress. She just is determined to dislike anything which takes her parents away from her for any length of time. (She’s spoiled that way.) The funniest thing is, she liked Clueless until I pointed out it was a modern retelling of Emma. As Clueless is on its way to Broadway … šŸ˜‰

  3. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed yourself! The event used to be more tea and less dance, but there’s so much interest in dance locally that we ended up partnering with the Heritage Dancers to make the event more financially viable, and as a result, it’s become more dance and less tea. Full of lovely people, though, no matter what. I hope you’re able to make it to the AGM–it’s shaping up to be a winner!

    • I have all my digits crossed, Amy! It is the weekend I normally have my Young Writers, but I’m working getting a speaker and a stand in moderator so I can be there. I believe there are several local authors who are trying to schedule a get-together for that time period also. Exciting time!

  4. Sounds like a lot of fun although I would have been too self-conscious to dance. Playing Whist or Marrying Mr Darcy would be more likely an activity I would participate in.

    • As I trip over air while walking, I understand your concerns, and I am certain I could have done an admirable impersonation of Mr. Collins, however, the dancers who knew what they were doing were patience personified. With a guiding hand upon the elbow or a tug upon your fingers, you were easily turned the proper direction.
      While seated, my daughter and I watched two gentlemen who were clearly attending for the first time, but the smiles upon their faces as they turned this way when they should have turned that way or took their partner’s hand when they should have taken the lady’s beside them … they were having such fun that we could not help but smile with them. Everyone was just enjoying themselves. There was no judging, no condescending. As I have said before, I highly recommend it.

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