Earlier this summer my daughter, who’s been working at Colonial Williamsburg, found out that each Tuesday night, CW sponsors a group of English Country Dancers at Newport House, a bed and breakfast, in Colonial Williamsburg. Anyone can attend for a nominal fee ($1.00 donation). It’s two hours each Tuesday, from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm.
So for the past few weeks we’ve been going. And I’ve been dancing!
This is fantastic for several reasons. First, it’s great exercise. Every night I go, I make my goal of daily steps. Next, I got to spend time with my daughter who will only be home for a few more days before leaving for college. And third, it is AWESOME for historical romance research purposes!
The dancers don’t wear period costumes, although I’ve been told they do hold a costume ball at least once a year here in Williamsburg. And last night three balls were announced in nearby and not-so-nearby locales. I’d love to go to one, but will need to get my Regency gown made first.
The dances, however, are almost all period dances from the colonial period, many of which were carried on into the regency. Last week I danced one called “Mad Robin,” the first week one called “Lord Fuddington.” Last night I videoed one of my favorites, although I didn’t get the name of it.
The first hour are rather simple dances, the second hour more difficult ones. Since I’m a rank novice, I only dance the during the first hour and that’s work-out enough. But I love it because it’s exercise where you have to be thinking all the time.
One of the most interesting things I discovered immediately was that the room where we dance is much smaller than I would have thought you needed for such dancing. These dances are done usually in longways sets, so a long, narrow room works well for even as many as 15 or 16 couples. And the variety of dance steps you can do in such a space is also surprising.
They’ve announced that starting in September, there will be lessons for beginners starting 1/2 an hour before the dancing begins. You can bet I’m going to be there!
Have any of you danced English Country Dances?