Get Down Like Darcy at the Jane Austen Tea Social

Why should fictional characters have all the fun?

On Sunday afternoon, the Victorian Tea and Dance Society invites you to party like it’s the early 1800s. They’re kicking off another year of themed events with a Jane Austen Tea Social on January 7, and you don’t need a partner, a costume, or dance experience to attend.

The society, which became a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit in 2016, wants newcomers to feel welcome as they learn dances from the era. As the band Whirled Peas provides live music, callers offer instructions on how to do the basic steps. Darlene Hamilton, who cofounded the society in 2009 and now serves as its president, recommends jumping right in. She says, “The dances get progressively more difficult. One or two are more complicated, and we’ll say, ‘This dance is for experienced dancers only.’”

Hamilton says about 25 percent of attendees wear period-appropriate dress to the society’s events, emphasizing that costumes are not required.

“We started this group so that people who didn’t know the dances and wanted to learn them would have a place to go,” she says, adding, “You will actually be learning dances that you’ve seen in movies. Gone With the Wind has the Virginia Reel. The Jane Austen movies have line dances where people are standing in long lines and doing various things. In the Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice, you see some very active, very fast group dancing. In Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, you see them doing a very slow dance.”

The Jane Austen Tea Social runs from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral Hall (150 North Madison Avenue, Pasadena). While dancing is the focus of the event, they’ll also be serving tea with light snacks. Tickets are $20, and available through the society’s website. They are expected to sell out.

If you can’t make it to this one, the Victorian Tea and Dance Society has a full calendar of upcoming events, including historic dance classes on the second and fourth Tuesday nights of the month, a Celtic Tea Social on March 4, a Colonial Ball on March 24, and an Alice in Wonderland Tea Social on May 6.

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