Those of us who have been involved enough in the Jane Austen Society have certainly gotten the chance to dance Regency-style; the annual meeting always has a ball, as often do similar smaller meetings, and yesterday wasn’t the first local meeting I attended that gave us all a chance to dance. But actual information on how Regency dancing was really done aren’t quite as common. Yesterday, however, here in DC, we got one, from dance historian Susan de Guardiola, who gave us a lecture before taking us through three dances.
The problem with a movie having a guaranteed audience is that the people making it are more likely than usual to get lazy, to think they don’t have to create a masterpiece, because they’ll make money anyway. This weekend, I saw two very different movies with two very different guaranteed audiences, both of which I think feel victim to this phenomenon, but to different extents.
Seriously, fuck cancer and fuck this week. Any other wonderful British men of 69 you care to take away from us? Unique ones too: there will certainly never be another David Bowie, and I don’t think there’ll be another Alan Rickman either. So many hats he wore, many of them villainous, but that was certainly not all he was capable of.
My experience of Montreal this past week can pretty much be divided into two halves: things that happened before the Jane Austen Society of North America’s annual conference began, which mostly consisted of exploring Montreal, and the more academic Mansfield Park-themed pursuits that happened after. I’m afraid I enjoyed the former much more.
In Chapel Hill, NC last weekend the local Austen scholars held a gathering of Austenites for what was supposed to be combined academic/pop pursuits related to Pride and Prejudice, the first such meeting ever there but they want to make it an annual tradition. Mom was invited to sit on a roundtable/panel related to the movie adaptations(something she has blogged a lot about) and I accompanied her there for what amounted to three days of mostly academic Austen pursuits, with some dancing thrown in.
Attended a Jane Austen meeting/lecture held at the Clyde’s restaurant next to the Verizon Center. The lecture itself involved more Byron than Austen and I didn’t really succeed in following what the guy was saying. What struck me the most about the experience was instead the restaurant.
There’s another Clyde’s I’m more familiar with, a restaurant close enough to where I work we’ve had farewell lunches and last year’s holiday party there. It was large but not overly so, and somewhat overpriced but at least more or less edible. I figured this would be much the same.
Before getting there mom and I were a little worried about finding the restaurant on the block. We needn’t have been. It was a large two-story structure with CLYDE’S in large gold letters on it. I knew it was accessible from both the street and the mall it’s attached to, but it seemed almost as big as said mall. From the inside as well; there were corridors in that place. There was an elevator. I’m not sure where this elevator led to, but there was one.
The room in which we were holding the meeting was a fancy place, too. Quite sizable, of course, with a bar, and silver chandeliers on chains. The walls were lined with paintings and sculptures all of race horses, and with silver plates, and other silver objects behind glass panes. I got the impression of it trying to resemble some sort of old English club. It left me with the feeling that most people who meet in that room tended to be more wealthy groups than JASNA, especially because we’d had to pay quite a bit to RSVP for that meeting. I didn’t really like that feeling. I liked it even less when the food proved a choice between three very fancy dishes where I had to make a guess at which one might be edible. Unfortunately I guessed dead wrong, and so had no lunch today. It was a relief to get out of there.
I am wary of expensive restaurants in general for that, but I’ve been to ones where the food has been good, and sometimes I haven’t even felt out of place at all. The Babbo’s in Greenwich Village, for instance, where my family ate last August, where an ordinary family can splurge every once in a great while and not feel at all awkward. This, on the other hand, was the epitome of why so many of them aren’t worth it unless you’re a rich snob. Thankfully our office’s holiday party next week is being held somewhere else this year.
Attended a Jane Austen Society luncheon/lecture today about the Austen subject of the hour: the Byrne portrait, a miniature(though the images of it going around make it look more like a bigature!) that claims to be of Austen on the back, and its current owner has been hawking it as a recently noticed authentic drawing of her, when we only have two sketches by sister Cassandra, only one of which shows her face, though a number of people, including my mother, are rather skeptical.
Full disclosure: Cindy Jones is a friend of my mother, who was one of this book’s editors, and has been kind to me also, giving me advice about writing queries, and of course sending up both presentation copies of the novel. It also arrived with a handy bookmark containing a list of there heroine Lily’s favorite books, including the childhood book collection that gets tragically lost near the beginning(though I would think she was too old to have read the Harry Potter books as a child, but never mind; the novel’s not given an exact date anyway).
Went yesterday with my mother to a small dancing party held by the local JASNA chapter. The problem with holding regency dances in our modern times is that they’re actually kind of hard to do if you haven’t learned to do them from a young age; when I attended a dance workshop at the AGM we were reminded by the man teaching us that Jane Austen and her contemporaries would have learned to do all the various moves automatically, while we all had to remember them. I imagine it must have taken some work for the actors in all the world’s period films to learn to make it look natural. Fortunately no such ease was expected from us; we were reminded it was okay to make mistakes, and to further aid us, a dancing troupe was brought in to firstly perform, and then to partner us. Also amoung their number was a caller to continually call out instructions to us, and whom I had the privilege of standing up with for my first dance at the head of the line, although he openly usurped my role of directing the musicians of what to play, after telling me he was going to do so. 😉 Aside from the disaster that was the Shrewsbury Lasses, it was a marvelous time. Though there were also technical difficulties; the caller’s microphone took half the party to get set up and start working, and early on there were feedback issues that were very hard on the ears(and in Austen’s time they never had to worry about any sound more horrendous than a broken fiddle string!).
We came home amid a metro crowded with Capitals fans, and when we have to change lines at the Verizon Center(they lost the game too. 😦 ). Today I go out again, to meet with a gentleman friend at a comic show.