Friday, July 15, 2011

Regency Dancing? Sort of ...

Last weekend, as many of you will know, was the RNA conference at Caerleon, near Newport, in Wales. A fantastic time was had by all. Much laughter, quite a lot (!) of wine, and huge amounts of inspiration, both from the sessions we attended and from discussion with fellow authors. For those who have never attended an RNA conference, you missed a treat.

One of the sessions was Regency Dancing. Not an academic lecture on the subject, but REAL dancing, on our two left feet. Well, my two left feet, anyway.

I can tell you that it looked nothing at all like the elegant performances in the prints in the latter part of Louise Allen's post on 19th June. For a start, we were all female. And then, not one of us had thought to wear Regency costume. Or corsets! One or two very well-prepared participants had thought to wear proper dancing shoes. For the rest, it was an assortment of trainers, ordinary outdoor shoes, sandals, and bare feet with tastefully painted toenails.

We lined up in rows to form sets. I was dancing with Louise Allen, I as the man, she as the lady. Not perhaps the most sensible allocation of roles, as Louise is at least two inches taller than me. Twirling her under my arm was not one of our more elegant moves, I'm afraid.

We had a go at two different Regency dances, both called waltzes, but neither of them what modern viewers would think of as waltzes. One was danced in sets of 6 (3 couples); the other was danced in sets of 4 (2 couples). There were strong similarities with country dancing, with similar steps and moves, but in the limited time we had to learn the dances, it was quite difficult to remember all the moves and to get them in the right order. There was no such thing as a waltz hold; holding hands was as far as it got.

I fervently hope that no one was taking pictures, as some of our attempts ended in chaos. But I really did enjoy it, in spite of the confusion, and I would love to try it again.

Next time, I'll take a pair of dancing shoes. I might even find some corsets, so I can have a Regency lady's straight-backed posture as well.



Jane Jackson said...

Joanna, It sounds as if you had great fun. It will have given everyone who took part a fascinating insight into one of the accomplishments expected of a young lady.
I wish there were photos!

Joanna Maitland said...

Oh dear!

There may actually be photos. I vaguely remember, among the chaos, that someone took photos.

I just hope that my two left feet are NOT in them.

Louise Allen said...

I am praying that there were no photos! As Joanna said, perhaps not our finest hour in terms of grace, elegance or anything other than the sharp yelps when toes were trodden on!
But it was fascinating to try and so were the details such as the control the Master of Ceremonies had to send poor dancers off the floor - the shame!