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February 14, 2010

Victorian Dance Demographics

One of the more interesting features of a "Fan Page" on Facebook is the ability to gather demographic information on your fans. The demographics shown below were derived from the Social Daunce Irregulars Victorian Grand Ball Facebook Page, which currently has about 450 fans. These statistics are, of course, not necessarily indicative of all Victorian dance groups, or vintage dance groups everywhere, but they seem to be, from what I have seen, fairly typical.

Continue reading "Victorian Dance Demographics"

Posted by Walter at 08:33 AM

November 24, 2008

The 19th Century Baseball Experiment

I am trying to get 19th Century style baseball started in Southern California.

I am keen to encourage and grow 19th Century living history that is not focused around war or gunfighting, since I strongly believe that such activities can have more to teach and can be more fun than more violent pastimes. Note that I am in no way trying to suppress battle re-enactments or gunfight shows. They will happen with or without my support--but I am trying to "grow the market" and create a net gain in chances to dress up in public.

One of the great advantages of an event that is built around a battle is that is has is a clear focus. There is a central activity -- a reason for all those people to be there and a thing for them to do. This can be a problem with a civilian event.

However, with a sports event we can have it both ways. We can have the focus and interest of a battle while still presenting the mostly peaceful world of 19th Century America. If we were British, our focus would have to be a cricket match, but fortunately we are Americans so we can play baseball.

In addition to the baseball game, there would be any number of spectators who can come in large or small groups or individually: picnickers, musicians, dancers, hawkers, cowboys, sheepmen, medicine shows, political demonstrations (Temperance ladies--here's you cue), blacksmiths, telegraphers, roving phrenologists, physicians, newspaper men, laundries, cooking, and all the variety and vitality that was 19th Century America.

One of the things I love most about the civilian concept is that everyone belongs. You can never be too old or too young or too female or too male or too ethnic or too skinny or too fat. This is not the case for military men (though on the old-fat front, that doesn't stop a lot of them) and you are all welcome at the game.

So, I am trying to pull together a "league" of 19th Century baseball players. We are forming a team in the San Fernando Valley and are looking for other folks who might be interested in joining us. If we can get two teams, we can find a field somewhere, declare a game and invite all comers to join us in the fun.

Here's what I see as the basic elements of this league.

  • We will use the rules of around 1870
  • You don't have to be good at baseball
  • You have to be healthy enough to do baseball stuff on a hot day without keeling over.
  • Uniforms are optional -- though 19th Century attire is required. If this takes off, teams may want to spruce themselves up a bit.
  • Boys only--no girls see! So, if women want to play they need to wear men's clothes and a comical false mustache.

Let me know if anyone is interested.


Walter Nelson

Posted by Walter at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)

July 09, 2008

Fawnskin Victorian Festival - a Cautionary Tale

I was hired as dance caller and general consultant by the folks putting on the Fawnskin Victorian Festival. At the time, it seemed like not too bad an idea, since they seemed to have a decent track record with several years of Renaissance festivals and Pirate festivals.

They were determined to put on a "Victorian Ball" in the model of the SDI balls, thinking that by hiring the band and some of the management of the SDI ball, they would inherit its success. My first, and repeated advice, was to warn them that this was a huge risk and that they were unlikely to get many people coming up from the flatlands to attend--but that advice wasn't heeded, and the event crashed and burned, and was canceled at the last minute.

They are not the first however, to succumb to the siren call of the big vintage dance event, and not the first to fail. Here are a few thoughts on that topic.

Continue reading "Fawnskin Victorian Festival - a Cautionary Tale"

Posted by Walter at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2008

Marketing for Preservation Groups

This may be of interest to preservation groups.

Continue reading "Marketing for Preservation Groups"

Posted by Walter at 08:40 AM

March 01, 2008

Newport Vintage Dance Week - August 11-17 2008

Here is information on the Newport Vintage Dance Week.

Continue reading "Newport Vintage Dance Week - August 11-17 2008"

Posted by Walter at 10:27 AM

January 26, 2007

Newport Vintage Dance Week - Portsmouth Rhode Island

This is an event I have never attended, but I have met and enjoyed working with all the teachers listed, and many of my friends who have attended tend to rave about it.

Portsmouth, Rhode Island - Monday-Sunday, August 6-12, 2007

Continue reading "Newport Vintage Dance Week - Portsmouth Rhode Island"

Posted by Walter at 12:26 PM

November 27, 2006

Historical Production of Restoration Comedy: The Way of the World

For those who may be interested in seeing a production of William Congreve's 18th Century comedy "The Way of the World", done in correct period costume, here's some information on a performance that is running through December:

We are, in fact, promised a Minuet finale.

I haven't seen it, but it sounds like a lot of fun.

Posted by Walter at 10:44 AM

July 17, 2006

Berkeley Bastille Day Dance

Last Friday, on July 14th, I, my wife Sheila, and our friends Todi and Veronica, attended the "Friday Night Waltz" Bastille Day Dance at the International House by the UC Berkeley campus. It was a fun evening, which drew some interesting contrasts between our Southern California vintage dance culture and that of our Northern cousins.

Continue reading "Berkeley Bastille Day Dance"

Posted by Walter at 07:12 AM | Comments (1)

May 11, 2006

Vintage Dance Across America

I am frequently asked by folks outside my Area of Operations in Southern California, if there are vintage dance events in their distant neighborhoods.

Here is a list which I just received from Mr. Robert Chapman. While it will, like all such lists, soon become obsolete, I hope that the websites and contacts mentioned in these dated listings might still be of value to people seeking vintage dance close to home, long after the events have passed.

Continue reading "Vintage Dance Across America"

Posted by Walter at 07:20 PM

March 25, 2006

Vintage Dances and Bands

Here are a few thoughts about bands for vintage dance events.

Continue reading "Vintage Dances and Bands"

Posted by Walter at 10:22 AM | Comments (1)

March 23, 2006

Newport Vintage Dance Week

This just came to me, and I thought I would share it:

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers are pleased to announce plans for the 19th Newport Vintage Dance Week, to be held August 14-20, 2006 at the Portsmouth Abbey School in Portsmouth, RI.

Continue reading "Newport Vintage Dance Week"

Posted by Walter at 08:15 AM

March 14, 2006

Renting a Hall for a Vintage Dance

One of the big challenges in putting on a vintage dance event is finding the right hall. Here are a few thoughts on the topic from someone who has been doing it for a few decades.

Continue reading "Renting a Hall for a Vintage Dance"

Posted by Walter at 12:34 PM

March 08, 2006

Upland Event Needs Volunteer Docents

My old friend Alice asked me to spread the word on this:

Upland is having it's Cenntenial Birthday and in honor of it. Upland Heritage is putting on a Home
Tour with all homes being at least 100 years old.

Continue reading "Upland Event Needs Volunteer Docents"

Posted by Walter at 03:09 PM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2006

Thoughts on Programming a Victorian Dance

I am frequently asked for suggestions for putting on a vintage dance. Here are some of my thoughts on the elements of a successful program. I realize there are many successful events that don't follow these rules, but this has worked for us.

Good band--live music--n'uf said.

Be wary of dinners. They often cut in to the dancing due to logistics of serving a large group and people taking their time at their meal. Furthermore, even with the best intentions, they can be subject to logistical crises that can hammer your schedule.

Continue reading "Thoughts on Programming a Victorian Dance"

Posted by Walter at 07:18 PM | Comments (4)