The 19th Annual Edwardian Ball kicks off this Friday in San Francisco with a World’s Faire event before culminating in an elaborate and unique party this Saturday (the titular Ball). For the uninitiated, the name of the event is something of a double entendre: It pays tribute to the macabre mind of writer/illustrator Edward Gorey; simultaneously, it models itself after a traditional Edwardian Era ball circa 1910. You can check out summaries of each day’s events below.
The World’s Faire: Friday, January 25th, 2019
The Edwardian World’s Faire, in honor the late-great macabre cult author, comic artist, illustrator and cartoonist Edward Gorey, presents a unique blend of live music, theatre, fashion, circus, fine art, riveting stage shows, literature, ballroom dancing, DJs, and character play in an enticing and whirlwind, alternative-universe extravaganza. On this, the opening night of the two-night 19th Annual Edwardian Ball weekend, our celebration unfolds with the renowned Edwardian World’s Faire. This year’s theme is “The Rose Pedal Garden”, featuring a bicycle-powered garden of playful wonders, and featuring Gorey’s cranked-up classic, “The Epiplectic Bicycle.” A worldly adventure ahead of Saturday night’s Ball, our World’s Faire presents a once-in-this-lifetime adventure!
Annual Edwardian Ball: Saturday, January 26th, 2019
Following the World’s Faire, we return to our Ballroom for the most decadent night of our season! This is the night that started it all, The Edwardian Ball, presented by co-hosts Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society. Ballroom dancing leads way to stunning performances both on and offstage in a collage of fashion, theatre, music, circus performance, and dance.
Both nights… peruse the haunted grounds of the 1909 Masonic ballroom. Shop and delight in the artisan crafts of our famous Vendor Bazaar. Capture a moment of history in our Portrait Booth. Sip a locally-distilled absinthe cocktail, and dance the night away. Lose yourself in our Museum of Wonders located in the opulent Regency Lodge, our “Edwardian Odditorium” full of curiosities, natural wonders, sideshow performances, fortune telling, tarot reading, live painting, and many more surprises waiting in the gilded wings. Each year, The Edwardian Ball also presents a featured Edward Gorey tale in an original stage performance.
While San Francisco is a city with a reputation for throwing extravagant parties, this does pose a question (especially for Dread Central readers): Why should horror fans (especially those unfamiliar with Edward Gorey and/or the Edwardian Era) be excited about the Ball? I asked this very question to the event’s co-founders, Justin Katz and Mike Gaines. Here’s what they told me.
Justin Katz: One of the things that
hasbeen kind of essential to the fabric of the Ball since the beginning is celebrating darkness and shadows; the painful emotions of our existence. Every year, there’s always been this shadowy dark side celebrated in an upfront and expressive way, like our Museum of Wonders and our Taxidermy Museums. We’ve had themes like “Excavated Maidens of the Victorian Era” and “Neglected Murderesses of the Ages.” These stories aren’t part of popular culture, but in the Edwardian world of the Ball, people aren’t afraid to be the characters going through dark times. We’ve got performers doing really morbid performances against backdrops of shadowy art. We’ve had Gorey characters walking around the ballroom, like “K is for Kate: Struck by an ax” with an ax in the back of her head. There’s plenty of campiness and humor, but with real dark expressions. That’s our wide-open invitation to the Edwardian Ball: You can come in a ball gown or looking like you’ve been freshly dug up in a ball gown and, either way, you’ll feel right at home!
Mike Gaines: There a beautiful agony and a macabre sensibility to it all. It’s almost an aristocratic take on horror, like, “Keep your chin up!” I mean, Gorey writes about the demise of children but he’s able to deliver it in a way that’s digestible to everybody—and we even get a chuckle out of that. Adults can see the humor of it and humor and horror go hand in hand in my mind. It’s like there are two sides of a canvas for our patrons to explore the dark side of themselves: Humor and horror. Plus, it’s an event where everyone is the star!
To learn additional details and the logistics of attending the 19th Annual Edwardian Ball this weekend, you can visit their official website, HERE.
Full disclosure: I’ve attended The Edwardian Ball in past years and can personally attest to the fact that it’s a morbid wonderland for horror fans. If you’re in the area and have the means, I highly suggest you attend.