Written By Behnam Vadi & Jordana Dworkin
Photos by: Marco Sanchez

As long time residents of San Francisco, I think we’ve earned our stripes for divulging bold, honest commentary when calling out “the shift” in SF culture. These days, we often speak to the demise of our once great, diverse city, which, for many colorful types, drew us to SF in the first place. More than a feeling, it’s a sad truth that the old school culture of SF has been displaced. The injection of god-like capital into SF’s tech-engorged veins has created a new definition of the typical “San Franciscan”. Like a dog on a tight leash, the once open-minded, true LIBERAL (not the neo-liberal definition that many claim to embody), has been yanked away from home, along with the artist, musician, and the free-spirited being who can no longer afford to live here. This leaves many of us who have continued to hold our virtuous ground, chomping at the bit for events, shows, gatherings and parties that call forth the days of old SF. When we hear the Edwardian Ball is making its annual appearance, we flash back to great memories imprinted gleefully on our minds, and we cry tears of joy for the return of a rare counter-culture nostalgic gem!

Hosted by the creatively gifted – PARADOX Media & Vau de Vire Society, the wild and crafty Edwardian Ball returned to its sacred temple, the Regency Ballroom, for its 19th annual Winter weekend affair on January 25 & 26th. With production and staging rivaling a classic Hollywood movie set, the Regency transformed into a romantic, Neo-Victorian / Edwardian era majestic marvel, where gypsies, creative misanthropes, and curious revelers commingled. This year’s theme, “The Rose Pedal Garden,” featured a playful, bicycle-powered wonderland set amidst an enchanted English garden. With the spirit of Edward Gorey looming over the festivities like a larger-than-life emcee, the production team did an outstanding job of re-imagining the essence of his classic tale, The Epiplectic Bicycle.

Upon entering the once Masonic Temple, hosts and hostesses in decked out costumes greeted guests with cordial affection and charm, decrying any stiff upper lip negativity, which was to be left at the door. Entourages of laced-up, bustle + corset ladies and gents in long tail jackets, double breasted waistcoats and top hats, completed the look and feel of stepping back in time. Combine that with a hint of steam-punk meets goth and… voila! You’ve got yourself a rockin’ party!

Sipping on absinthe and strolling the halls, one could not help but succumb to the seduction of getting pulled deeper into the mystery and the magic, not as a spectator, but as a willful participant in a festive, interactive performance spectacle. With ultra-fashionable eye candy galore, our eyes locked with tantalizing temptresses beckoning us toward the crimson velvet Museum of Wonders. Findinag ourselves in the middle of the gorgeous, gothically inspired space, we soon became transfixed by the staged narrative of the Bay Area’s favorite dark,

edgy wordsmith, Jamie de Wolf, and his Martha Graham-like dance accomplices unraveling a potent tale – The Trouble With Women. So captivated were we that we ended up following THE LIGHT, as directed, from onstage to other mysterious corners of the building. With cunning, fervor and zeal, Mr. De Wolf, alongside a powerful cast of femme fatale bedazzlers, continued the noir satirical reveal of societally oppressed women of the period casting an all-too strangely familiar foreshadowing of sexism, misogyny and male-dominance to come. We were left wondering… what next?

After a refreshing meandering through the socially sparkling vendor maze, we landed in the Grand Ballroom where music and fanfare were at their fullest. It was as if we had landed on the most incredible absurdist set with a gracious artistic stamp of approval by the master himself, Salvador Dali. Performances by the likes of Vourteque, Rosin Coven, and the infamous Vau de Vire Society brought the night to an apex of wide-eyed awe, leaving us craving more.

As old San Francisco continues to wane from its creatively-inclined pedestal of greatness, the magic of the annual Edwardian Ball continues to keep the vibrant spirit alive and thriving. At least, we hope to count on that. Here’s to wishing that everyday was more the like the Edwardian Ball in SF, full of theatrical whimsy and wonder.

Bravo to the organizers for keeping the spirit and fun alive and continuing their creative journey to take this epic Ball to new heights. We can only imagine what’s in store for their next edition…

For more info on the Edwardian Ball go to: