Waltz Ball at the Jalopy Theatre

Ballroom blitz: Dust off your dance card for this Victorian-style ball

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Jalopy Theatre is having a ball — literally!

The Red Hook music hall is known for its old-timey bands and performers, with banjos and washboards frequently gracing the stage. But on June 27, it is getting even more old fashioned with a Victorian-style waltz ball. The event will feature many of the serious trappings of a 19th century dance — including orchestral music, dance cards, and proper period manners — but the creators say the aim is still to have some frivolous fun.

“I think people need to be a little more silly,” said Sarah Alden, vocalist for the Golden Angel Waltz Orchestra, which is both organizing and playing at the event. “This is my answer to that.”

You don’t need to have noble blood or even ballroom dancing experience to participate — the evening will begin with a dance lesson, giving everyone a chance to practise and mingle.

Once all the lords and ladies have the moves down, everyone will be given a dance card to fill with the names of partners for the rest of the evening.

“Fill your card up right away so you don’t have to worry about it later,” said Alden, whose band has hosted five previous waltz balls at venues throughout New York City.

Traditionally, such events called for elegant gowns and tails. The Jalopy affair is a bit more casual, but Alden encourages participants to come in the poshest garb they own.

“We try to do our best with some nice fancy hats and dresses,” she said.

At real Victorian balls, even the smallest outfit details were important. Etiquette dictated that single young dames and dukes could not openly hit on each other, so they used subtle placements of items such as handkerchiefs and gloves to indicate their intent, explained Alden. For instance, a woman touching a handkerchief to her lips meant she was flirting, while twisting the handkerchief in her left hand told an unwelcome suitor to go away.

Asking someone to dance? There is a sign for that, too — but you will learn that from the band.

“I give them Victorian cues of how to ask someone to dance with you,” said Alden.

Waltz Ball at the Jalopy Theatre [315 Columbia St. between Hamilton Avenue and Woodhull Street in Red Hook, (718) 395-3214,]. June 27 at 8:30 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
Posted 11:31 am, June 25, 2014
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