Every new year brings a new Edwardian Ball to SoCal. This year, the travelling music festival / neo-vaudevillian immersive theater / cosplay club / intimate fashion show / Edward Gorey celebration found a new home. The ball’s producers, Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society, moved the event from the historic Fonda Theatre, in Hollywood, to the historic Globe Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. The Edwardian Ball’s new LA digs has the distinction of being the origin of Broadway Theatre (prior to the emergence of The Broadway Theatre, in New York), which made it a fitting new home for the San Franciscan-based event’s 8th Annual stop in Los Angeles.
Once again, as soon as guests entered the theatre, they were transported to an imaginative world, rendered with colorful lighting and grotesque decor, and populated by good-natured weirdos donned in fantastical hybrids of steampunk gear, Edwardian era clothes, and / or anything in between. While the absinthe cocktail bars, curious sideshows, and DJ stations were spaced throughout the building, the theatre’s lower level principally housed artisan and couture vendors as well as a free portrait booth.
On the main level, guests amassed to dance and marvel at the principal acts, which appeared both onstage and within the crowd. MC Vegas John Jenkins established a positive atmosphere that seemed slightly less irreverent than that of previous years, while a steady stream of jolly fun, demon-centric animations sporadically flickered on the big screen throughout the evening. In between the projected animations — and in some cases in tandem with them — the live entertainment featured a swinging jazz performance by Holy Crow Jazz Band, the old school cabaret act of Le Cancan Bijou, and the aerial acrobatics & various other colorful performances by Vau de Vire Society.
Also featured was a great act by Dark Garden Corsetry, which consisted of a fashion show / ethereal musical number performed by Kat Robichaud. Robichaud’s song, “The Last Waltz of the Wrights,” told the semi-true story of an old company promoter / swindler named James Whitaker Wright, who killed himself and his wife in an underwater ballroom after he was convicted of fraud. This fittingly fantastical tale was told from the point of view of Wright’s wife, Anna, who sings a refrain of “Why did you kill me?”
In between the main attractions, DJs from TRAPEZE Worldwide kept the party swinging with their Electro-swing sets. Finally, Edwardian Ball founders Rosin Coven performed a set of their original “Pagan Lounge Music,” which typifies the spirit of the event — especially with anthemic tunes like “Magpies,” “Lo Que No Sera,” and “The Zookeeper’s Awakening.” After the first set, they performed their original soundtrack for the live performance of this year’s Edward Gorey story, “The Deadly Blotter.”
This year, the Vau de Vire Society rendered the tale by using a backing film with which the onstage performers interacted. As usual, the spectacle was a grotesque cornucopia of corny delight, with delirious characters, morbid humor, pratfalls, and a touch of naughtiness.
While fantastically-themed gala events continue to increase in popularity, the Edwardian Ball maintains the inspiration and charm that has fueled it’s operation for 17 years. And although for some it might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to attend one of its opulent evenings, for others, it has become an annual ritual.