In the event that you do not belong to any neo-Edwardian, steampunk, or cosplay communities, there is a chance that you may have missed this year’s sold out Edwardian Ball, at the Fonda Theatre. Last year, the Weekly chatted with festival producers Justin Katz and Mike Gaines, who provided a nice run-down on the festival’s 15 year history; and while the Edwardian Ball has only just made its 7th annual stop in Los Angeles, the SoCal crowd does not seem to have lost its steam.
“Are you feeling it?” was the mantra of the evening. Emcee Vegas E. Trip pointed out that everyone in attendance, by merit of their presence, was assumed to be having a good time throughout the evening, so when he periodically popped up onstage, between acts, he would ask for confirmation that the crowd was experiencing the EB vibe by inquiring, “Are you feeling it?” As usual, once immersed in the rich atmosphere, it is difficult for guests to escape the vibe. Interactions with actors and role-playing guests complement the absinthe, astonishing costumes, provocative performances, random curiosities, hybrids of anachronistic music, and themed set pieces throughout the theatre. Thus, the response to the evening’s ongoing question was simply a matter of the degree to which they were “feeling it.”
The fact that the event was sold out was probably not lost on the hordes of people who stood in the Mystic Midway of the second floor hallway, while they waited in line for others to vacate the rooftop area. Those who made it up to the rooftop were able to enjoy a smoke, a drink, more vendors and games, more music, more photo ops, and other entertainment. Meanwhile, the VIPs in the balcony enjoyed their comfortable views of the ballroom and stage down below. Throughout the evening, attendees danced and marveled at the entertainment being offered in the ballroom.
Gracing the stage, as usual, were a number of eye-opening and sensuous acts. Among them were the stylishly dressed dancers of Le Cancan Bijou, various minimally-dressed performers of Vau de Vire (which included an aerial pole dancer, an aerial hoop acrobat, a traditional burlesque act, contortionists, and others), the unique musical stylings of The John Brothers Piano Company and, of course, Rosin Coven. The distinct and curious music of John Brothers Piano Company, which essentially sounds like a mash-up of old west saloon piano music with dissonant and stomp jazz, received a very warm reception. Following them, Edwardian Ball founders Rosin Coven performed a lively set of their trademark Pagan Lounge Music before providing the soundtrack for this year’s Edward Gorey story, which was performed at midnight.
This year’s Gorey selection, “The Stupid Joke,” was presented by Rosin Coven, Dark Garden and Kinetic Steam Works. As is tradition, Gorey’s dark and twisted literary tale was enacted in a cartoonish and campy manner — the production featuring elaborate and fascinating props and costume designs. While the performance of “The Stupid Joke,” was the centerpiece of the evening, Vau de Vire Society continued to provide entertainment into the night as guests gradually petered out. As it stands, there is still nothing else like The Edwardian Ball, and until the ball finds a new home, The Fonda Theatre will remain a great venue to host the misfits, the artists, and the curious folks who can buy their tickets before the show sells out next year.