By Lori Perkins
I have been attending romance conferences for the past two decades and have often wondered why none of them ever featured a Regency ball. Believe it or not, this has been on my bucket list, so much so that when I read that the Netflix/Bridgerton folks had created balls in Washington DC (and L.A.), I tried to get some of my romance-loving friends to do an overnight in the capitol.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find out that The Queen’s Ball, a 90-minute immersive Bridgerton experience, was finally coming to New York City, my hometown. I could rent costumes, wear wigs and not even leave my city.
My oldest friend and I went to Beyond Costumes in Yonkers where I was hoping to find an elegant empire waist ensemble, but when you are larger than a size 2, it’s petticoats and décolletage. I chose a black velvet and silver look; my friend maroon and gold. We bought white Marie Antoinette wigs on Amazon, and were ready to waltz - (a side note here: you cannot drive in an outfit like this, and you probably don’t want to take the subway, so we had a friend drive us down and pick us up – you’ll probably want to Uber).
You enter through a hallway brimming with purple wisteria into a ballroom with a black and white checked floor. You are given a plastic, foldable facsimile of the gossip sheet from the show –Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, which features gossip from the books and some hints about what is to come this evening.
On the wall farthest from the door are the libations, all carefully created around the show. I particularly enjoyed the Lady Bridgerton, a dark pink gin and tea drink that came with its own flower, but I did try Whistledown & Dirty, a gin, lemonade and mint concoction that was almost as good. There were also more traditional drinks like cosmopolitans and margaritas, and non-alcoholic drinks, but I would err on the side of whimsy this one evening.
We were not the only participants in costume. Mimi, a fashion designer at thenewesticon.com, and her friend Kira, designed their own ball gowns for the occasion. Others merely donned old prom gowns and awkward bridesmaid dresses that they thought they’d never wear again.
If you felt a little underdressed, there is a gift shop, which I was pretty certain was going to be outrageously expensive, but I was wrong. Clip-on earrings, $10; Ostrich feather fans in black or white, $20; white lace gloves $10; gorgeous tiaras $25. There is even Bridgerton-themed make-up and various shirts. And, if you have an American Express card, there is a 15% discount.
There is also a section where you can have your portrait taken as though you are being painted for an 18th century portrait on your country estate.
Actors are present throughout the ballroom. One of them taught my friend and I how to do the dance of the evening – The Regency – which entails a bit of twirling and raising your hand as you turn.
Once the queen arrives, and she is regal in every way in a silver gown and a tower of hair, you are encouraged to curtsey before her and try to impress her to become the diamond of the ball. We were not chosen.
And then the performance begins, where a Romeo and Juliette-esque love story is told in interpretive dance, while live music plays.
And then you are invited to the dance floor to all do The Regency.
It’s actually a delightful evening (but wear ballet slippers or flats because you will want to dance).
It runs anywhere from $80 to $125 per person (the VIP package includes a drink, an exclusive gift and the Bridgerton tote bag).
The Queen’s Ball is hosted and organized by Fever, and runs every night through July. It would make an excellent gift for a romance-reading Mom for Mother’s Day. https://bridgertonexperience.com/new-york/