The Grand Skokloster Ball

It is that time of year again. It has become a tradition to arrange the Stockholm Empire days over a weekend in August. There is a picnic, afternoon tea, a dance practice, culminating in the ball. It isn´t as spectacular as the Jane Austen festivals in Bath or Kentucky, but we do attract a growing number of enthusiasts. We decided to repeat last years success and had the ball again at Skokloster Castle, where I work, so I was actually paid to organise it. Terrific, but it meant that I was unable to attend the other events.

Anyway, this is the castle:

Skokloster Castle is a Baroque masterpiece outside of Stockholm. It is one of the best preserved seventeenth century castles that is around, and was on New York Times list of 53 must-see places with the likes of The Pyramids and Taj Mahal!

We released the ball tickets in May, and the lion´s share sold out quite fast. The guests were not only from Sweden, but from the neighbouring countries and as far away as North Carolina! I will not bother you with the caterers, renting china, bus transfers, etc, but it was my main focus after the vacation.

Following photos were taken by Viveka Edit Sjölund, who was appointed to official event photographer.

When the castle had closed for the day, and the tourists were gone, the guests started to arrive. I quickly changed to full dress: black silk tailcoat and breeches, ruffled shirt, cravat, white waistcoat and stockings, and pumps. (You can see me here and there in the photographs below.) Chilled prosecco was served in the outer courtyard:

Mingling in front of the castle

Speeches and thank yous on the front steps. This group of amazing people contributed each and one of them in different, invaluable ways.

Group picture! Over 100 guests!

The program comprised of four dance sets, with three to four dances in every set. If you ever attended a historical ball you know that one dance can actually go on indefinitely, or at least a quarter of an hour, so that is about four, five hours of dancing in one evening!

The gallery is perfect for dancing longways, as in Playford´s country dances. (“Contre dance”.)

Perfection!

Even more perfection! The level was impressive this year.

This is so funny! Looks like a still from a Jane Austen film, doesn´t it?

The ground floor gallery is very grand with its vaulted ceilings and columns in Italian marble:

Dinner was served halfway through the ball. This is only one of three tables! We opened up the state apartments upstairs for a peek while the musicians tuned their instruments and our staff cleared the tables and prepared coffee and the dessert buffet. (Which was almost overwhelming!)

The ball continued with the next set of dances. I think this is the Duke of Kent´s Waltz, but I could be wrong…

A well-deserved rest in the portico.

I tried to join one or two dance in every set, but not as many as I intended. I´m afraid I didn´t chat enough with guests and friends either! (Meanwhile: ugly wiring! This is the only part of the castle with electricity, and it was not always installed with fingerspitzengefühl.)

The courtyard.

Gently euphoric at two o´clock in the morning, not particularily tired but with sore feet.

It was a magic evening! (And to me the best mix of business and pleasure.) I hope you can feel the atmosphere through the photos. Now when it is over I can´t help feeling a hint of post-event blues.

 

 

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New neckwear for the ball

Welcome to Regency gentleman! Several half-hearted posts on this blog were never written due to a hectic summer and the extreme heat wave.

Regencygentleman

Looking very calm only minutes before the ball…

I will share some gorgeous pictures from the ball, but first, some of the work that was carried out in order to make it happen.

Photo by Regencygentleman

No, I will not bother you with the sweat and drudgery that goes into preparing for a ball in a Baroque palace.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Nor the brains and muscles required when moving a harpsichord.

Let us take a closer look at some costuming instead. It would have been nice to make something more spectacular, such as a new pair of white satin breeches, but my schedule and level of energy did not allow it. I did however update my look over a couple of evenings prior to the ball by sewing a new cravat. Not only that, but a stock to go with it, with the aid of a shirt ruffle.

My intention was to use linen (more historically accurate), but the one I had was not fine enough. I am aware that it is probably fashion forward, but I opted for some fine cotton batiste:

Photo by Regencygentleman

I´ve been meaning to make a stock for ages. Better late than never! You can read more about this type of neckwear here. I cut enough of the batiste to just go around my neck. The height ended up about the same size, so basically a square. I hemmed the top and bottom edges. Then i ran a gathering stitch on both ends, and gathered the cotton to the required height, about three inches:

Photo by Regencygentleman

Gathering the ends.

These gathers are kept in place by narrow tabs. The stock was fastened with a buckle, hooks or buttons. I didn´t have time for that and quickly stitched some cotton tape to the ends:

Photo by Regencegentleman

Like so…

The new cravat didn’t need the same width as my old ones, so i cut it about two inches wide, and hemmed all edges. You can see a glimpse of it above.

Another strip of the cotton batiste was hemmed (took me longer than expected!) and gathered, then secured to some cotton tape, and basted to the front of my shirt. A ruffle!

With all pieces assembled it looked like this:

Photo by Regencygentleman

Cravat, stock, and ruffle. Ready for the ball!

It was a fun and easy project, and comfortable to wear. Before next wearing I´ll starch everything to achieve a crispier effect, though.