The Regency period Jury Street Court House was reopened to the public in 2014 following a major refurbishment. When the Unlocking Warwick volunteers resolved to hold events in the Court House to encourage people to appreciate and make use of the beautifully restored building, a Regency Ball was the obvious choice. The restored ballroom with its new oak floor provides the perfect setting.
From 2014 to 2019 the Unlocking Warwick volunteers staged a Christmas Ball in December each year until the CoVid19 pandemic caused us to cancel the 2020 Ball. 2021 saw a joyful return for our dancers and volunteers and the 2022 Regency Ball was another success, even though it was no longer possible to hold the Ball in December. The Ball became so popular that tickets would sell out within 24 – 48 hours of being put on sale
Each year, an enthusiastic group of ballgoers would arrive at the Ball dressed in costumes representative of the 18th and 19th centuries, a period when balls were held regularly in the Court House. Although we described ours as a Regency Ball, in fact the dances were more typical of the Playford style, rather than the quadrilles and cotillions that are more accurately termed “Regency”. In terms of costume, many favoured the simpler Regency styles that are seen in films of Jane Austen novels.
Each year Unlocking Warwick engaged an experienced caller to guide people through the dances, so a sense of timing and the ability to follow the instructions was more important than previous experience of Playford dance, per se. HOWEVER, in order to follow the instructions, would-be attendees needed to be familiar with the terminology of traditional dance.
A local group of specialist musicians, Mr Sayer’s Players, became the regular musical accompaniment.
On arrival at the Ball, guests were offered a welcome drink of the traditional negus punch (alternatives were available). A plentiful supply of chilled water was also available – Regency dancing can be thirsty work! During the interval, canapés were served and there was a brief entertainment, such as a recreation of a scene from a Jane Austen novel, or an extract from a Richard Sheridan play.
After the 2022 Ball, the Unlocking Warwick volunteers took the decision that they were no longer able to stage balls at Christmas. For 2023 a local group of Regency dance enthusiasts, the Warwick Regency Dancers, has agreed to take on the organisation and will hold a Christmas Regency Ball on Saturday 25th November 2023.