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Stepping Back in Time at the Jane Austen Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

The 2019 Jane Austen Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern and Museum. (Courtesy photo)

Alexandria, VA – Music drifts down from the balcony as the musicians play their instruments, the dance master calls the dance steps, and the guests glide around each other in the intricate ways of English country dancing. This is the Jane Austen Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern.

“It’s our time period here at the museum,” said Liz Williams, director for Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, about the Jane Austen theme for the ball. “It’s the perfect connection for the fans of Jane Austen and the time period we interpret.”

As the most popular ball hosted at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the sold-out event had 85 guests dressed in stunning Regency-era style gowns and suits, or evening wear, that would have been worn in such masterpieces of fiction as “Emma” and “Sense and Sensibility.”

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Staff at the 2019 Jane Austen Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern. (Hancock Photo)

George and Theresa Kitchen have been dancing in such historic settings for more than 20 years.

“We heard there was a ball here,” George Kitchen told The Zebra. “We started to come [to Gadsby’s Tavern] and they’re very good, as you see, at teaching beginners.”

But the Kitchens are no beginners.

“We’re good at following directions,” joked Theresa Kitchen.

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The 2019 Jane Austen Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern. (Hancock Photo)

During a dance break, guests fueled up on treats such as cream puffs, chocolate covered apricots and orange peels, and ham biscuits with a delightful raspberry sauce.

“We’ve done our research on the types of food they would have had in the 18th century,” Williams said.

As the room filled with the conversations and laughter of the guests, it was the perfect time to admire all the beautiful costumes.

Iava Drist has attended balls at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum for more than 20 years. Her floor length gown, which she made herself, is teal with a subtle shine of gold thread, and gold ribbon adorning the deep neckline.

When asked what piqued her interest in attending regency balls, Drist said, “The history, being interested in costuming, or actually real period correct clothing.”

Don’t fret about having missed out on the Jane Austen Ball! The ball is one of three held annually at Gadsby’s Tavern, and tickets to all of them sell out quickly! Next up is the Fall Harvest Ball at 8 p.m. on Nov. 9!  

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