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?