I have yet to review the Bridgerton TV show or the book series (it’s on my very long to-do list I swear!), but that can all wait. Let’s talk about the ball!
I first heard about the Bridgerton Experience after my friend attended the Los Angeles one. I was sad to see I had missed it (as I hadn’t heard of it) and even more so after seeing further photos and videos by MissKittyCatalan and autumnsarahstory.
I looked at reviews and other info on it, and of course as it usually goes, when you search up one thing you end up receiving all kinds of ads promoting that thing, in my case the Bridgerton Experience. For once I was really happy to see the ads as I discovered they would be holding more balls and that they had expanded it to San Francisco.
San Francisco is much closer to me than LA and after some more investigating I found that they gave you a great rate for groups of 6 and more. Now that I was armed with dates, times, and prices; it just came down to finding people to join me.
First things first I posted on my Facebook page to try and get as many friends notified (and possibly willing to join); along with reaching out to friends I knew who would want to go (or be willing to do me the favor of attending). I checked back in a week and had no takers from Facebook, and could only get three friends interested, as the others felt it wasn’t right for them as they had no clue what Bridgerton was about.
A group of four is better than one, and after looking at all the prices and times we settled on Sunday August 14th at 2:30. 2:30 was cheaper than the evening and we all felt the price was the most fitting for what we would be getting in the “experience”. (Although by the way, I just checked the calendar and prices for the 5:30 are now cheaper than 2:30. I’m not sure why it changed as before they were the same price as the 2:30 show). You have the option to purchase VIP tickets, but from the reviews VIP only seemed to get a place to sit, a free glass of champagne, and to go into the experience a few minutes before the rest of the crowd. As you weren’t really getting that much of an advantage over the regular priced guests, we all felt that it wasn’t worth the higher cost of the ticket, (unless we had been able to get that great group rate). Instead we all bought the regular tickets.
According to the research I did the ball included: multiple photo areas, a” paint your portrait” photo area, merchandise available for purchase, costumes from the show being on display, a scavenger hunt, guests being presented to the Queen, a ballet performance with aerials, being taught to dance, and a ball. Plus one lucky person will be chosen as the “diamond” (that is the Belle of the season). I was so excited and hoped that it would be me!
After tickets were purchased the next thing we was needed to figure out of course was what to wear? Luckily I had that all taken care of. As you might recall, last year I held a Jane Austen birthday party and MadsenCreations designed and made my regency gown. The gown is blue and was inspired by the one Daphne wears in Bridgerton and the dress Lydia wears in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Since this was a ball and men would be present, (unlike my party) I needed gloves! I tried to find some opera full length gloves as I wanted them to go all the way up to my bicep, but I was unable to find any online that would arrive in time (and of course the Halloween store in my town was opening the day of the ball). I ended up wearing elbow length gloves, which turned out to not be the best idea. As I wanted to take a lot of pictures and my phone is a touch screen, I had to keep taking one of my gloves on and off. MadsenCreations wore small gloves which was a much better idea.
After that the only thing left to plan was my hair. Which you all know can be the most difficult.
I cut my hair in May so I was unable to do the hairstyle I did last year for my party. I wanted to try and do the look Jennifer Ehle has in Pride and Prejudice (1995) but it didn’t come out right. Instead I did a very high bun on the back of my head vis-a-vie Miss Jane Erstwhile in Austenland, but only had a couple tendrils down on the sides of my face, copying the look of Miss Kate Sharma on the book cover of The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton #2).
Everything was falling into place. We drove down the night before and stayed with my Tia, spending all Sunday getting ready! As we didn’t want to have to worry about finding parking we hired a lovely carriage to bring us to the ball, a Honda Accord.
The confirmation email told you to arrive 30 minutes before the event and we arrived a few minutes after 2. We were able to take our “yours truly” photo right away (no line) and see all the dresses in the waiting area. My friend and her roommate joined us a little later and we took another pic in the “Yours Truly” area. They also had gloves, tiaras, jewelry, and more available for purchase. My friend forgot her gloves and was able to purchase them at the little shop.
After that we waited around a bit looking at everyone’s outfits before they allowed us in. I noticed two things right away; 1) there were no single men, each guy was with a girl or group of girls. And 2) no man that I could see was dressed in a Regency costume. This was a complete bummer as I really, really wanted to get a pic with a Regency man. All I could do was hope I would be able to snag an actor or perhaps someone would come late?
When the experience begins you have the choice to shop, walk around, order drinks, and take photos. They have a wisteria arch, “paint your portrait”, the queen’s throne, and lots of other decorated areas. It was absolutely beautiful in there.
Xandraleigh had warned me to wait on the wisteria walkway as it gets incredibly crowded with people. Instead we went right to the portrait line as there was hardly anybody there. The portrait was fun and the picture came out well, although I do wish we had been given more instructions as we weren’t quite sure what exactly to do at first, but eventually figured it out.
After taking our portraits we were at a loss of what to do next. We didn’t want to take a picture on the Queen’s chair as the line was super long and instead walked around a bit looking at the Bridgerton shop and trying to see what else the experience had to offer.
There wasn’t much else but photo areas and a few more clothes from the show. I liked looking at the costumes, but there weren’t as many costumes as I thought there would be.
While we were taking photos we heard an announcement and quickly ran back to the Queen’s chair area to see what was happening. The Queen had arrived, and we tried to see her although it was really hard with all the people. She sat at her throne and Lady Whistledown, became our narrator for the events. She told us that we were to be presented to the queen and to try our best to impress her so that we will be in the running for the “diamond”. We were also told that as Whistledown couldn’t be there herself she sent another in her place, and challenged us to try and discover which of the guests she was. This woman, who’s name I forget, gave commentary on every curtesy, being quite sassy. I was excited for this, but the directions weren’t quite clear. They told everyone to move to the front by the Queen but I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to line up, go to the right or left, etc. We all kind of moved in a group together like a giant herd of cattle and the actors picked people to be presented.
I had five people in front of me and then all of a sudden they were saying I was next in line and urging me forward. When I stepped up the Queen wasn’t paying attention but talking to an attendant. I wasn’t sure what to do and stopped there, like a deer in headlights, and then curtseyed. Suffice to say, my curtesy did not get rave reviews and I did not impress the Queen.
The rest of my party did very well and one of us was even given a note saying that they had impressed the Queen and were in the running to be the “diamond”.
After that we decided to try to take a picture in the archway as we didn’t have anything else to do and weren’t sure how long the presenting would take. Here is where I wish had a program to guide us, or had opened up the ballroom so we could dance while waiting for the next “performance”.
As I said we headed to the archway as the line had gone down, although it still took a while for us to get our photo, even though we were only behind three couples. The problem was everyone wanted to take a ton of photos and videos. I’m all for people doing their thing but I do wish they would be a little more considerate of the time and others. There is only 90 minutes and a lot of people in line; you don’t need to take 5 photos together, 5 individual shots (each), and 5 videos.
When it was finally our turn, we heard another announcement, quickly snapped a couple group shots, and went hurrying back to see that they had opened the ballroom.
Here is where you need to be assertive and try to get as close to the floor as possible as they choose guests to open up the dance floor and dance with the actors. I was too nice and unable to get up there, so I was not chosen.
But seriously, it was still fun to watch. I do wish they had a bigger ballroom or less people as it was a little hard to see everything. I was in the back on a little stage area, so I was able to kind of look over people. But as I’m short It was hard at times to get a good look into everything. They then began the first part of the ballet that I thought told the story of Daphne and Simon, but others have said they think it is supposed to represent Kate and Anthony. Either way it was beautiful.
After the first dance, they brought out a woman dressed in burlesque type outfit and she was really out of place. She taught us a pseudo-regency dance and it was fun; although hard to follow along as you couldn’t hear what she was saying and there were a lot of people crowded around the dance floor. She does a lot of hand movements and when doing it with all the people attempting to follow, you might hit someone or have someone hit you.
Then our dancers returned and performed beautifully! I loved the dancing with the silks. My favorite part was when they danced with the chandelier. It was so stunning and worth it.
After the second dance the two split to either side of the room and taught us a regency-esque dance. This was a lot of fun and as I came to this ball to dance I was not going fo let an opportunity slip through my fingers. I’m not ashamed fo say I pushed my way forward so that I could be in the dance, I was going after my dream! I was hoping for my own Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey moment, however, as mentioned before there were no men who came alone so I ended up dancing with a very nice woman who was an excellent dancer.
After we were taught the dance and danced away a bit, they moved us off the dance floor and the dancers finished their performance with the violinist even getting into it. It was fantastic! The violinist was amazing!
Afterwards, the Queen came out and the two characters were married. The stand in for Lady Whistledown was also revealed (in a modern dress, I never would have guessed that was her) and they chose the “diamond”. In everything I’d seen online the diamond always had a stunning Regnecy outfit. This woman they picked wore a black Victorian dress which, not to be rude, made me think of a widow (as women in that time period only wore all black if they were a widow.) I hadn’t seen her before but she must have impressed the queen to be picked. I would have liked to see her curtesy and learn a few tips.
The queen then left and they played 2010s party music and allowed you to dance the last 15 minutes of the program. We enjoyed it, but were all a little disappointed that there wasn’t more dancing.
As we were exiting the ballroom I did manage to find one man (not an actor) dressed in Regency clothes and convinced him to take a picture with me! Since I didn’t ask his permission to post the photo and he’s not wearing a mask, I won’t share it here, but I am very grateful that he decided to dress up.
The only thing that was promised that I didn’t see was the scavenger hunt. I saw on multiple reviews that they had clues you were to solve to get to the next one, but I couldn’t find any clues or information on it.
Afterwards, we decided to get food as we all had forgotten to eat when we were all getting ready for the ball. We also needed time to share and discuss the ball. We tried to find a resturant nearby, but a lot were closed on Sunday. We eventually settled on Chez Maman (Hayes Valley) on 401 Gough St. We walked down there as trying to find a parking spot in San Francisco is near impossible. As we were walking people commented on our outfits and complimented us.
Chez Maman was packed but they were able to sit us outside and even though things took some time, understandable as almost every table was full, it was the best service I have had even pre-Covid and everything was absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend stopping there after the ball.
So was it worth it? Well this was what I was hoping to get out of the experience:
- Have fun with my friends
- Dance with a handsome stranger
- Get my picture taken with a man dressed in Regency clothes
- Dance at the ball
- See the lovely clothes from the show
- Take a nice picture
- Enjoy the ballet!
So would I recommend this experience? I definitely would. We had a lot of fun and everything was absolutely beautiful.
If you do attend my advice is:
- To be aware of time (you only have 90 minutes).
- Group photos are definitely the way to go if you want to be able to do everything.
- Don’t be afraid to assert yourself in order to be a part of the action. If you want the best experience, you are going to need to be front and center.
- If you are planning on taking lots of photos wear short gloves or no gloves at all
- Don’t wear anything too long as with all the people you will get stepped on.
- Don’t wear too many layers. The ballroom gets packed and there is no air conditioning going, so it gets hot in there.
For more Regency events, go to Tossing a Costume Together + Regency Runway
I’m so glad you managed to enjoy the experience, even without meeting Darcy! As you say a programme of some kind would have been helpful and it’s a shame about the scavenger hunt. I couldn’t stand for that long so would need seating areas where you could watch the entertainment. The only thing similar I’ve heard of in England is the Chatsworth Regency Ball, I’ve never been but have seen pictures, including those of Anngela Warren Schroeder when she and her husband attended.
I was happy to have something in the US and on the west coast. It sees most are in England or on the East coast
Sounds lovely. You guys looked fantastic! I’m glad you had a good time and shared. I know from attending JASNA AGM that single males are a rare sight. Almost like Sasquatch! If you should attend another event, you might consider cutting a small hole around your pointer finger pad so you don’t need to take your gloves off to take photos.
You should take your own photos somewhere else—like maybe walking in a garden or somewhere else to have “Regency-like” photos. and then you won’t be rushed.
Great advice about the gloves! I’ll remember that for next time. I know, it’s too bad with all the cosplayers there isn’t one that likes to dress up as an Austen character.