Vintage Violet

March 9, 2008

Don’t just dress vintage, dance vintage.

Filed under: Events — by Bobbi Lee Hitchon @ 8:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

For anyone who ever dreamed of traveling back to simpler times, been intrigued by the scenery or dress of Seurat’s painting, or just wants to trade the “bump and grind” of dance today for ballroom waltz with a Darcey-like lad or a graceful gal; Spring Festival in Cape May, NJ is the event for you.

The 12th annual 10-day festival starts Friday, April 25th. Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts hosts a variety of dinners, theatrical performances, tours, workshops, and dances. One of the festival’s most popular events is the Vintage Dance Weekend, which starts on Saturday, April 26th.

“The Vintage Dance Weekend has always been part of the festival,” said Communications Coordinator Margo Harvey. “It’s really a great opportunity for visitors to experience and learn a way and form of dancing like they danced in Cape May more than 125 years ago.”


The main event is the Vintage Ball, which takes place Saturday at 8 p.m. in 19th century Chalfonte Hotel. While musical duet Spare Parts plays live, people will dance everything from the waltz to the quadrille. Since most have never heard of the dances, let alone know the choreography, the Chalfonte welcomes people to attend three dance workshops earlier that day with Triangle Vintage Dance instructor Chris Imershein from Carrboro, NC.

After you’ve learned the moves, lace up your corset, pop on your top hat, and prepare to dance. Harvey said while vintage attire is not required, almost everyone does get dressed up and have various ways of finding costume.

“A lot of people make them on their own,” said Harvey. “A lot of people order them online and have them tailored to their specific size. Some people actually have the real deal, the real historic outfit that has been passed down through the family through generations.”

The weekend ends with tea Sunday, again at the Chalfonte Hotel.

Harvey does not know who created vintage weekend, but did mention this was just one event on a calendar full of vintage dances in the area.
Lawrence Keener-Farley, a retired attorney, is Dancemaster for the Victorian Dance Ensemble in Camp Hill, PA.

“That’s the person who calls the dances,” said Keener-Farley. “Dances back then were called, much as square dance or a country dance today. Then at a ball, our people serve as what they called floor managers back then. These were the people that helped to form the set, because these were to a large degree formation dances.”

The non-profit ensemble has about 50 members from New York to Virginia. They give narrated demonstrations and host balls usually at historical sites to raise money for historic preservation. Keener-Farley and wife Annette helped form the ensemble in 1995 with Tom Foster after taking Foster’s ballroom class in 1994.
They host or participate in about 30 events a year, including performances at the Smithsonian and Arlington House in Washington D.C. While Keener-Farley has not attended the ball in Cape May, he has heard great things from members of the ensemble.

He is excited for the 5th Annual Vintage Ball under the Rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg at the end of this month.

“It’s probably the most spectacular room that we dance in…” said Keener-Farley. “We have a waiting list for people who want to get into this ball.”

While you may not be able to see Keener-Farley’s ensemble under the Rotunda, tickets for Cape May’s Vintage Ball are still available. Three workshops, the ball, and Sunday tea cost $75, but can be purchased separately. To order tickets or learn more, call (609) 884-5404 or 1-800-275-4278.



  1. This is really well put together… You’re doing a great job with links and talking to people that are helpful to hear from. I think this pretty much means that you have to go and report for us, we need the followup piece! Could be fun too, a bonus. I think this is pretty much reflective of what you’re doing with the blog. Lot of research and background information, well-informed writing and interesting new info. Great job-

    Comment by Matt — March 10, 2008 @ 1:26 pm |Reply

  2. here’s to old school!

    Comment by dancesister — March 10, 2008 @ 1:34 pm |Reply

  3. this event looks awesome…im a sucker for vintage

    Comment by Erica — April 3, 2008 @ 3:07 pm |Reply

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