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Edwardian Ball Takes Downtown by Gothic Storm

By Samantha Page
Published: Wednesday, February 04, 2009, at 11:25AM
L1000151 Samantha Page [Flickr]

Angelinos poured into the Tower Theater Saturday night to get a taste of the Edwardian nightlife - the Edward Gorey nightlife, that is.

The ball and show, featuring LA's Cirque Berzerk in partnership with Edwardian Ball co-creators Rosin Coven and Vau de Vire Society, was an hours-long festival of music, dance, costume and absinthe, billed as a tribute to Edward Gorey, the writer and illustrator famous for the pen-and-ink opening credits of Masterpiece Theatre and his own macabre and hilarious books.

"We're going to end up with an elegant, slightly tattered top-hat celebration," Rosin Coven's Justin Katz said in what was, more or less, an accurate description.

The night did not go off completely without a hitch, as the LAFD showed up while people were still arriving, and deemed the admittedly run-down theater at capacity.

Despite that brief snag, the Edwardian Ball's first foray into LA after nine years in San Francisco was an unqualified success.

Producers looked all over the city for a venue before settling Downtown. "It was very, very hard to find the right home," Katz said.

"It's a beautiful theater, but a lot of work had to be done," since the theater has been unused for years. Katz credited the downtown arts scene with being "instrumental" in helping the group get into the space, as well as the theater owners, who went to "great lengths" to fix up the space.

The music on Saturday, by DJ Xian and Rebekah Del Rio, among others, was outstanding. The dancing was great, and the corsets (by Dark Garden) were spectacular.

But some people (myself included) were a little sad that Gorey wasn't featured more prominently in the festivities. Gorey was a self-proclaimed asexual, and his characters and themes tend to run more toward the awkward and swaddled than the lithe and half-naked. But in this day and age, it seems, one must make room for the naked ladies.

"There's an element of unpredictability when the circus takes over an abandoned theater," Katz said. After all, when the show began nine years ago, it was just Rosin Coven and a slide show of Gorey drawings.

It has come a long way to get to Downtown.

And although the current, deplorable state of the Tower Theater may make you long for the golden days of Hollywood, the Edwardian Ball on Saturday offered Downtown a contemporary twist on the decadence and abandon of its heyday.

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