See also: CuriousJosh: Edwardian Ball Slideshow
Back in the old days, when the Edwardian Ball was known as the Edward Gorey Ball, it was a small affair. Justin Katz and his band, Rosin Coven, provided the music to go along with story narration. They used a slide project to showcase Gorey's images. A few years later, Vau de Vire Society, a San Francisco-based performance troupe that incorporates circus arts into their work, joined the fold.
Vau de Vire Society is a performance art troupe that is heavily influenced by circus arts. They've performed at loads of nightclubs and music festivals across the country. They have also worked with bands like Dresden Dolls and Alkaline Trio. Sometime in the middle of the last decade, they joined forces with Rosin Coven for the ball. "It was a match made in heaven," says Gaines. Katz describes Vau de Vire's involvement as "the turning point" of the ball. "It's really when the theatrical, circus performance nature of what we do with Edward Gorey's work ... really exploded," he says, "almost literally with the amount of fire we packed into a tiny club."
Now, the Edwardian Ball is a massive undertaking involving events in two different cities. The San Francisco fete, which took place in January, runs for two days and brings in about 4,000 people. Saturday night's party at the Fonda Theatre marks the fourth time in five years that they brought the ball to Los Angeles.
The Edwardian Ball is a difficult thing to describe. This was the third time I've attended the event and I still cannot cram everything I've seen there into a few concise paragraphs. It is far more than a celebration of Edward Gorey's work. At this point, it's more like a merging of a handful of different L.A. subcultures, a massive gathering where people can go wild mashing up the past and the present.
Several years ago, the Edwardian Ball team noticed that there were a lot of people heading to their event from across the country. Amongst those travelers, the Los Angeles contingent was large. They were also vocal. "I think our first trip down [to L.A.] was driven by attendees saying 'You need to do another one of these, and you need to do it down here," Katz, of the band Rosin Coven, explains by phone prior to the event. The L.A. crowd indicated that a local show meant they could bring their friends who couldn't make it up to San Francisco and "create a whole other world." L.A.'s Edwardian Ball devotees made good on their promise.
There are a lot of cameras inside the Edwardian Ball. It's hard to turn a corner without accidentally walking between a photographer and a subject. Everyone is dressed up. There are people who take period fashion -- any time period, really -- seriously. There are those who like to have fun with the past and they go far beyond steampunk. Upstairs, on the Fonda's patio, a DJ played tunes that could only be described as Jazz Age-meets-Rave Age. In the midst of her set, a girl wearing a flapper headband and short bustled skirt, jumped on a small stage and began performing with an LED hula hoop. The Edwardian Ball is more than just a celebration of the anachronistic, it's a place where anything goes.