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article imageEdwardian Ball is a tribute to those times and a unique artist Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Jan 9, 2014 in Entertainment
San Francisco - While interest in the Edwardian era is on the rise with popular BBC TV series like "Downton Abby,""Sherlock," and Canada's "Murdock" the upcoming Edwardian Ball and World's Fair on January 17th and 18th in San Francisco has been ahead of the new trend.
Inaugurated in 1999, The Edwardian Ball and World's Fair is celebrating its 14th year.
The producer and fellow founder of the Edwardian Ball, Justin Katz of the band Rosin Coven had a few moments to speak to this reporter by phone. "The interest in writer and illustrator Edward Gorey is part of Rosin Coven's interest and it is from that that the Edwardian Ball began."
Returning to a time of civility  the Edwardian Ball is a place to see and be seen.
Returning to a time of civility, the Edwardian Ball is a place to see and be seen.
photo by Marco Sanchez, courtesy of the Edwardian Ball
Rosin Coven is A nine-piece San Francisco based band that dabbles in Lounge, Orchestral, Alternative, and Jazz. Together with Vau de Vire Society, a dance and acrobatic ensemble and others Katz is anticipating another successful event.
While the event is based on the Edwardian Era it is actually inspired by and a tribute to Gorey, who surprisingly was not British but a 20th Century American illustrator, artist and writer. His trademark style was the use of ink and pen in his illustrations and the motifs centered around Victorian and Edwardian settings and ambiance.
"It just so happened that we had one of Gorey's illustration books at a bar," said Katz, "where we were performing (back then) and a friend mentioned why not have a party in Gorey's honor based upon his illustrations and works."
Ultimate costume party: See here from 2012 s Edwardian Ball are Justin Katz  left  of Paradox Media ...
Ultimate costume party: See here from 2012's Edwardian Ball are Justin Katz, left, of Paradox Media and Mike Gaines of the Vau de Vire, Society who co-produce the Edwardian Ball.
Courtesy of Edwardian Ball
The friend who brought up the idea just happened to be Tony Carracci, the owner/manager of "The Cat Club" in San Francisco. Katz referred to that as "a fortunate happenstance; he said, for the very first event we had at The Cat Club in 1999 there was about 125 people or so." Current club manager, Randy Maupin confirmed, "Yes, it did start at The Cat Club."
"It was an infant of an idea at the time," said Katz. "But as with all art and creativity, the event sort of took on a life of its own, each year getting larger, more detailed."
"This year will be our fifth year of having the event held in Los Angles." (That will be on Feb. 8 at the Fonda Theater). He mentioned that even from some of the earlier ball events "many people would come up to SF from Los Angeles." "We are so pleased, he said, because the spirit of the event is upheld and maintained wherever it goes." "Yet, as Katz pointed out each place it visits has something unique to that particular place. "The ingredients are the same, most of the format, but each place adds it own special flavor or essence."
Katz is proud that the event was founded in San Francisco because as he said, "San Francisco's history and identity has a wonderful and special kind of 'misfit' spirit which lends itself to the Edwardian Ball."
Katz said that he was sorry Gorey was not able to see or know of the event before his death in 2000. "But the members of his estate and charitable trust have been wonderful and supportive in allowing us the use of his works thru licensing," said Katz.
 The Edwardian Ball is where the participants are truly the show   said Rosin Coven member and the e...
'The Edwardian Ball is where the participants are truly the show," said Rosin Coven member and the event's co-producer, Justin Katz.
by Marco Sanchez, courtesy of The Edwardian Ball
"As co-trustee of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust," said Andrew Boose, "I must tell you that I do not think Edward knew about plans for the Edwardian Ball." "But I am not certain of that," he added. "Since we at the Trust have been aware of and have cooperated with the Edwardian Ball we have come to believe that it is a nice tribute to and acknowledgement of the work of Edward, he said, whose reputation and the popularity of his works have continued to grow through the years following his death."
Incidentally, Gorey's illustrations appear on the opening credits of the "Mystery!" series on PBS which is closely associated with the BBC TV line up that features "Downton Abby" and "Sherlock." When this reporter inquired as to why Gorey had an Edwardian style to his work? Boose replied, "I really don’t have an answer to your question," he said.
"Edward found so many things interesting and used them for creative purposes that one can only marvel at him and his accomplishments; but not necessarily understand their source."
Unlike other period-theme events, (such as the Dickens Christmas Fair and the Renaissance Faire) the Edwardian Ball is a completely imagined world, influenced by both the King Edward era of Great Britain and Edward Gorey's work, but beholden to neither. "We don't have any strict rules, said Katz, other than strongly encouraging people to be self-expressive and to enjoy creating costume and character. Whether inspired by Gorey, history, or anything in between, you have a place at The Ball," he said.
"The Ball at the Regency Ballroom on Van Ness Ave has its own uniqueness and we want it to be that way," said Katz. "And, while with all its highly imaginative and vivacious creative energy which also leans a bit on the outlandish, Katz pointed out that the event is very civil and dignified. Yes, there is a bit of the exotic and perhaps erotic aspect, but we have no problems. People are playful but very respectful of one another, he said. The event has a civility and it encourages people to not only be creative but to bring out their best self."
To learn more about the Edwardian Ball and purchase tickets visit the web site.
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