Friday, December 25, 2015

SF Bay Area Costumed Dances And Other Such Events

Here's a Christmas Day cultural excursion for you folks, in the generous spirit of the holidays. I am a regular attendee of the annual San Francisco Great Dickens Christmas Fair. I figured out early on that many of the fair's performers also frequent the Northern California Renaissance Faire and the Guild of St. George. In addition to their day jobs in the performing arts and technology, these fair performers populate a huge arts subculture in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'll run down a few of the creative outlets where I'm pretty sure they spend time.

The Edwardian Ball (find the link yourselves) grew into its current incarnation as a two-day imaginary trip to the light and dark sides of Edwardian era culture. The ball has a very distinct steampunk vibe. The edginess of ball performers performers like the Vau de Vire Society (again, find the link yourself) is exactly what pushes the creative envelope. Some of the acts and exhibits have dark or adult themes, so the ball is not for minors. That's why I can't link to their sites. I respect my agreement with Google AdSense and its covenants on acceptable content.

The Period Events and Entertainments Re-Creation Society (PEERS) is a way for many of the Dickens Fair and RenFaire people to continue their fun traditions all year long. Ballroom dance enthusiasts can waltz, foxtrot, jitterbug, and swing to their hearts' content. Changing themes every month is like time travel without Doctor Who's TARDIS.

The Gaskell Ball is probably the grandest of all of the formal ball events in this area. The setting at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center certainly evokes an ornate ballroom of the Victorian era, Belle Epoque, and Gilded Age. The black-tie charity galas I usually attend in San Francisco all support today's anarchic modern non-dancing, which resembles so many epileptic monkeys on drugs freaking out at random. Formal balls should be about disciplined ball dancing.

The Bay Area English Regency Society (BAERS) portrays a niche in Great Britain's Regency era that complements the Renaissance, Victorian, and Edwardian events above. I suppose I would have to read some Jane Austen before I attend to get the flavor of things. I would also probably have to visit the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild to find appropriate period clothing.

The Art Deco Society of California (ADSC) holds its annual Art Deco Preservation Ball and Gatsby Summer Afternoon to promote an artistic aesthetic that modern Americans have unfortunately forgotten. The Bay Area's rich Art Deco history includes the Golden Gate Bridge. A couple of my friends have attended these events for years and I wish I had gone already.

The Maker Faire Bay Area is the only event discussed here that I've actually attended besides the Dickens Fair and RenFaire. Check out my report from Maker Faire 2013. The steampunk and Burning Man crowd mixes with DIY techies here. It takes a combination of drones, printable circuits, and Tesla coil music to hold my attention.

I would attend these events if I had more free time. It looks like 2016 will be a very busy year for me, so I doubt that I'll be able to participate in some of these very appealing events. The list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Burning Man, but I have no desire to attend that one because of some very questionable activity there that no one seems to control. I think a Venn diagram mapping out the various fairs and events would show a lot of crossover. Historical period re-enactors, steampunk and dieselpunk aficionados, and modern tech innovators have a lot in common. San Francisco gives them many reasons to interact.