Sunday, 16 September 2012

Regency Dancing in the "Devizes Literary & Scientific Institute."

These elegant ladies are wearing dresses worn during the "Regency Era" a period in England from  1785 to 1830.  I´ll never look quite this elegant, with their slender figures and youth, but I will try to emmulate their style and poise.  I'm going to make a day dress similar the one on the right,  a dress which was popular in 1830.  The dance dress to the left dates from 1811.   I went to the group for the first time last Thursday, where the leader gave us some history of the dances we were about to practise.  I thought the dances would be nice and slow, but no, some are quiet fast, with hopping steps and much pointing of the toes.  We danced in a set of six, with ladies to one side and the men facing them.   We were short of men on Thursday, so one lady had to dance as a man.  She wore a blue sash so that we knew she´d had a quick sex change!  I enjoyed the evening, and now have to make a Regency style dress for future dancing displays.

We practise our dances  in the "Devizes Literary & Scientific Institute,"  an organisation formed in 1833,  for the improvement of the working class.     In the early 19th they were refered to as "Mechanics’ Institutes," and were being set up all over the country with the intention of informing the new artisan class about breakthroughs in technology.   The Institute originally met in the Quaker´s meeting room in the High Street, but later moved to bigger premises in New Park Street.  In 1843 the building burnt down, and new rooms were found in the Town Hall.   In 1906, the Insitute purchased the above building, which had been a "British School for Girls" since 1822.   The building is deceptively large, appearing very narrow at the front, but with large long rooms on two floors.  We have to climb to the top for our dance practises.

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