Facetime: Party like it's 1860

  • Article by: SARA GLASSMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 17, 2009 - 10:49 PM
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"Twelfth Night Gala" given by the Victorian Society of America's local chapter. Leading the way, Kit Cusick (far right) danced with his partner Kathryn Wakal, who wore a dress that Cusick designed. They were followed by the royal couple Queen Victoria, Regina (played by Christie Kopitzke) and Prince Albert (Joseph Manussier). The Grand March is the traditional first dance.

Photo: Sara Glassman, Star Tribune

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'Victorian attire admired, but not required," advised the invitation to the "Twelfth Night Gala."

The local chapter of the Victorian Society in America (www.northstarvsa.com) hosted a formal traditional British dinner and dance at the Klub Haus in St. Paul this month.

When it came to re-creating 1860, no flourish was spared and no detail overlooked.

"I enjoy bringing some of the traditions back to life," said ball chairman Kit Cusick. Those lost customs include seating spouses separately (to encourage mingling) and not acknowledging the staff.

Those in attendance respected the rules to the best of their 21st-century sensibilities, but it's a challenge not to say "thank you" when served.

"I like the formality and hierarchy of it," Cusick said. "It's easy to know what's expected of you."

At dinner, servers presented each dish to Queen Victoria (actually actress Christie Kopitzke) before serving the guests. Servers also cleared the plates whether one was finished or not.

The five-course feast, catered by Cusick and Lettuce Cater, included a variety of aspics (such as corn and apples molded in gelatin), a roasted goose and plum pudding. Firecracker-triggered "crackers" or "poppers" filled with games and paper crowns ended the meal with a bang.

Festivities then moved to the ballroom, where attendees filled their dance cards (literally) and waltzed for hours to a Victorian soundtrack provided by the Camptown Ladies. Gowns, many custom-made for the event, swooshed and swirled with the music.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177

INAUGURATION PRE-PARTY

Local Barack Obama supporters celebrated his upcoming swearing-in at an Inaugural Victory Ball at Calhoun Beach Club. Mayors R.T. Rybak (Minneapolis) and Chris Coleman (St. Paul) were there along with Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.

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