- City Guides
Edwardian Ball Celebrates 20 Years
The whimsical arts and entertainment fest inspired by Edward Gorey returns to SF
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Once again, steampunk fans and other revelers will step into a neo-vintage fantasy world as the Edwardian Ball celebrates its 20th anniversary on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Combining elements of a circus, music festival, art exhibition, and masquerade party, it will cap off a weekend that also includes the Edwardian World’s Faire on Friday night and a Vendor Bazaar on Saturday afternoon.
The event pays tribute to writer and illustrator Edward Gorey (1925-2000), whose books are known for dark humor and Victorian or Edwardian stylings. This year’s theme is “The Golden Tale,” which is “both an homage to Gorey’s story, The Lost Lions, as well as the golden tale of The Edwardian Ball growing and thriving over 20 years in San Francisco,” says Justin Katz, one of the event producers.
The festivities take up all four floors of the venue, a former masonic lodge that originally opened in 1909. They will culminate on Saturday night with a stage adaptation of The Lost Lions, a tale about a rich movie star and his big cats. It will be presented by the Vau De Vire Society, a Bay Area theatrical and circus performance troupe, with musical accompaniment by Rosin Coven, a “pagan lounge ensemble” that produced the first Edwardian Ball. Katz is the band’s bass player.
Also on the bill: Kat Robichaud & the Darling Misfits, Earles of Newtown, and more. Dark Garden, the San Francisco corsetry boutique, will present a fashion show. Multiple DJs will keep folks dancing, including Vourteque, who frequently appears at steampunk events. Some acts will appear on the main stage whereas others will perform on a smaller stage in The Lodge on the upper level.
The World’s Faire
The main ballroom floor will be set aside for an expo that follows the “Golden Tale” theme, exploring “the wilds, the savannah, and jungles of the world, in elegant step with the birds and the beasts of the Edwardian landscape,” the organizers say. Guests can expect puzzles, games, and mechanical creations, including contraptions by Kinetic Steam Works, an organization in Oakland known for its steam-powered art installations. The expo will also offer a historical retrospective of past Edwardian Balls.
Both nights will include a Vendor Bazaar on the ground floor and the curated Museum of Wonders art exhibition on the upper floor, along with puppet shows, tarot readings, an absinthe bar, and more. The Aetheric Telegraph Office, which offers telegram delivery with costumed personnel and vintage equipment, will be back after a one-year absence. Costumed attendees will also be part of the fun.
Adult tickets cost $70 for Friday night’s Edwardian World’s Faire and $85 for Saturday’s Edwardian Ball. VIP tickets for Friday cost $120 for general admission seating and $180 for reserved seating. VIP tickets for Saturday are sold out, as are tickets for the Saturday Afternoon Tea in the Museum of Wonders. You can visit the Vendor Bazaar on Saturday afternoon for $5.
The Regency Ballroom is located at 1300 Van Ness Ave. (corner of Sutter St.) in San Francisco.
Past years have also included an event in L.A., but “we do not have any current plans to return,” Katz says. “We had a wonderful 10-year run, but it was overly resource-intensive to present our event at the caliber we want, with the venues at our disposal and the available capacities.” Instead, he invites folks in Southern California to “come up and join us in San Francisco.”
You can get a sense of what to expect in the photo gallery from last year’s Edwardian Ball and World’s Faire. See the event website for more info.