Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Civil War Grand Ball

The second of my two assignments for the HCCVB blog this past weekend took place Saturday night, and it was quite an evening to remember.

This year, the organizers of Hendricks County's Civil War Heritage Days added a Grand Ball to the weekend's schedule of events. Participation was open to any pairs who wanted to participate, and while the dress code was open to your "Sunday best," period costumes were definitely encouraged.

People really embraced the opportunity. Men were sharply dressed in Union and Confederate dress uniforms or period tuxedos, and women swept around the room in hoop-enhanced ball gowns. 

My mom was one of the courageous partipants. A friend of hers, John, really wanted to do it, but his wife couldn't be talked into it, so he asked Mom to go with him. John's wife and my dad went as modern spectators and enjoyed watching from the sidelines. I photographed Mom and John beforehand and had fun enhancing this one with a sepia tone:
Dances were done in period fashion: mostly group dances, with progressive movements that meant you danced with most everyone in the room. The waltz was the only outlier that you danced in closed dance hold. 

The dress up-loving little girl in me loved seeing everyone in Civil War-era attire, especially the women in their ball gowns. Mom dove into the opportunity, researched the period's fashion, then designed and made her gown. It looked incredible, like molten steel flowing around the dance floor. She bought a pair of white gloves, pulled a beautiful red fan out of storage, and voila!
Fans played a role later in the evening, when a "fan dance"—also called a "hat dance"—came up on the schedule. It didn't involve much dancing. Three chairs were placed at the head of the group. A man started by sitting in the middle chair, with a woman on either side. Each woman was supposed to whisper a secret in the man's ear, then he chose his favorite and danced to the end with her, leaving the fan with the woman left behind. Then she moved to the middle chair, and the next two men in line sat down on either side of her.

The dancers were all warmed up by then, and as the dance went on, they got more and more into it, with great facial expressions and theatrical flirting. I stood on the side laughing out loud while I watched.
Nearly everyone had big grins on their faces all night and seemed to be having a great time. I enjoyed getting the chance to mingle and photograph everyone.

You can learn more about the evening and see more photos in my post on the HCCVB blog

Civil War Heritage Days Grand Ball Photo Gallery

The photos above are just an extra sampling!


  1. Dinah looks so pretty! I love that dress, too. So talented :)

  2. She looked beautiful. :) It was an unforgettable experience.