2016 Edwardian Ball San Francisco Review - Highlights in Photos


Photography by Greg Autry*



My first event and Article for Splash Magazine 2016, starts in San Francisco, at the Regency Ballroom on Van Ness Avenue, where the Sixteenth Annual Edwardian Ball was held on two nights, January 22nd and 23rd. I’ve covered the Edwardian Ball the last three years, in Los Angeles, and will do so again in February of 2016. This was my first time covering San Francisco, and the question I get from everyone, in both Los Angeles and San Francisco is, `how do they compare ?’  More on that later.




The Ball is in itself a great party and excuse for folks of all types to put on their party hats and “Edwardian” play-clothes to go out and “Par-tay”. The theme of the Edwardian Balls are a celebration of the stories of the late macabre cult author, comic artist, illustrator, and cartoonist Edward Gorey.  Based in the Edwardian Era, and has become a fest of Steampunk creativity as well.     





The Edwardian Ball is more than a Cosplay event, because the venues where the Balls take place are of themselves part of the event, helping to immerse patrons into an authentic atmosphere which completes the fantasy of the evenings.  In San Francisco both nights of The Ball are held at the spectacular Regency Ballroom. In Los Angeles The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood is the perfect location.




I have been based in Los Angeles (Southern California) all my life, until about nine months ago, when I relocated to Las Vegas, to research and work on my upcoming book about the amazing life and art of artist Julian Ritter. As the San Francisco Ball occurs over two nights, Friday and Saturday, I drove from Las Vegas to San Francisco the day before. My wife Sandy attended with me, as my photo assistant holding down the table with my extra lens, cameras, batteries, and bag full of “stuff”.  Thanks Babe !




Both San Francisco and Los Angeles are filled with amazing performers and stage productions. There is also the aspect of the attendees and patrons as a principal part of the `Show.’ I focus on the people attending the events. Costumes run the gamut from simple, to very elaborate, and which people have worked on for the entire year before the event.  Of course, there are great costumes to be rented, which offer a reasonable cost alternative, and the adaptability of a new costume for each event. My wife Sandy got her costume at `Natasha’s Attic’ in San Jose and received tons of compliments.




At the heart of the entire weekend’s event are the costumes and characters created by those attending. The effort put forth is amazing and always inspiring ever more creativity and genius for the Balls yet to come.




Jason Katz is the bassist for the musical group, `Rosin Coven.’  Jason is also the Executive Producer of the Edwardian Balls, and a Co-founder of the Ball, along with his wife, Carrie and the band Rosin Coven.  The ball grew out of experiential performances, put on by the band, including a musical repertoire that ranges from dark orchestral waltzes, fiery tangos, to drinking songs for all. There is elegance, a humorous tone, and a feeling of frivolity.




The aesthetic of the Balls is portrayed as come-one, come-all, and all ages are invited. The Vau De Vire Society joined forces with Rosin Coven in the fifth year and shall we say, took it all to a new level where performers and attendees alike, would “swing from the Chandeliers’”  as the party would  get wild and `closing the doors’ became understood, after hours.  Personally, I do not see bringing children. But hey, that’s just me.   




San Francisco’s `Vau de Vire Society’ is a specialty combination of performers, including classically trained dancers, along with aerial artist, acrobats, contortionist, and others who portray an eclectic style of vaudevillian circus unique in presenting seductive stories told in whimsical performances with an irreverent  attitude.  



Three years after the historic earthquake that all but destroyed San Francisco, The Regency Ballroom  was built in 1909, and serves as a stunning venue to host The Edwardian.  It is as alive and active today as it was then, and serves all types of live contemporary musical performance in a multi-media world. The `Regency Ballroom’ consists of four floors, accessed by lots of stairs, or an original caged elevator which takes you up to the Grand Ballroom.  Done in neoclassic and beaux-art styles soaring to thirty-five foot high ceilings, and adorned with equally stunning turn-of-the-century tear drop chandeliers it is a sight to be seen.  The room has inspired me to process and “paint” my images in a style this year, which would pay homage to both The Ball’s theme and the architecture of the Regency.    




This year the weekend activities were held throughout the building.  On the Upper Level of the Grand Ballroom, including the VIP Balcony seating surrounding, was the main stage of performances. The marvelous Museum of Wonders  was found on the Upper Lodge Level (top floor) , and the Vendor Bazaar was found on the Lower Street Levels.  Performances, and performers alike, were found throughout.  The first Night, Friday’s theme was `The Worlds Faire’, and of course the second night was The 16th Annual Edwardian Ball.



The range of performances, both nights, is incredible. Made all the better by the fact that the performers, in costume, are also participants and a part of the event. They mingle, dance, and party all nights long with everyone.  At the end of the evenings, when performances are over, the music takes over the dance floor, and all inhibition is forgotten.  On Saturday night, Trapeze took over the dance party, headed up by the inimitable Aaron Delachaux and The Klown – Boenobo.  It’s always one of my fav times of the evening, when I get the best “un-posed” pictures of everyone letting loose and having a good time.  




With one (or two) exceptions, it is impossible to name and describe individually all of the performers, vendor’s, and participants I photographed.  The best way for me to tell the story of the Edwardian Ball, is through my photos which I include a small portion here, of over three-thousand images taken over the two nights.  Most images are taken in rapid candor throughout the event. A few are included of the performers on stage, although that was not my focus this year.




On Saturday night as midnight toned in, Edward Gorey’sThe Stupid Joke” was presented on stage in the Grand Ballroom by Rosin Covin, Dark Garden, and the Kinetic Steam Works. It was one highlight, of many highlights, from an unforgettable weekend of highlights.





Another performer I loved, Lady Rizo, a “Cabaret Superstar” so named by New York Magazine. Yes, all the way from New York with her haughty New York attitude and plenty of juice in the naughty caboose, she WOWED the crowd. I particularly like when she called for a old fashioned sing along, to a Doris Day classic  `Que Sera, Sera’ . I was taking pics and singing along all the while.




I invite you to check out the various links here in my article, for a much broader spectrum that makes the Edwardian Balls so spectacular and so much fun.   As for the differences between the two Venues, the most obvious is that San Francisco is two nights, where as Los Angeles is one evening only.  What I saw on my first visit to San Francisco was more conformity with the Edwardian theme in costumes, whereas in L.A. I see participants’ venturing away from the strictest conforms of the Edwardian theme, to include more individual fantasy.  I may need a couple of more San Francisco Balls, to make valid comparisons.   I’m looking forward to next month, back in Los Angeles, and presenting more Photos in an ongoing Review of the Edwardian Balls. Someday I may leave my cameras at home, to play and frolic with those uninhibited creatures of fantasy.  Some Day, Maybe ?




For those of you interested I have an `Announcement’ of Personal Note. My time in Las Vegas has come to an end. I have completed the first draft of my book about the artist Julian Ritter. I’m sure there are more drafts, rewrites, and edits to come.  So as I enter a new phase of that work, I’m also entering a new phase of my journey with my beloved Sandy. In mid February, 2016, I will be permanently relocating to Northern California.




Sandy and I will be living in San Jose, about half way between San Francisco and the art environs of Carmel.  My work with Splash Magazine will continue, as will my writing about the life and art of Julian Ritter. I’ll also be better able to work between LA and San Fran for my commercial photo clients, and Northern California will give me whole new areas to explore for my art, writing, and photography. Plus I’ll be closer to my kids, as well as Sandy to hers.




Let me know what you think of my Splash Article about The Edwardian Ball, and if you have any questions, be sure to write and ask. If I can’t answer your question, I can direct you to someone who can.  You can see more pics at Facebook,  and Twitter  ,   and on my Blog as well.  Please Comment, Share, and Like.  Watch for my new upcoming Articles in Splash Magazine, where I will be based in Northern California, and take a look at my previous Splash Articles here.  



See you in LA next month. Tickets range from $55 to $675. Get your tickets now, before they sell out.


  • All Images are copyright 2016 by Greg Autry.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED . FOR VIEWING ONLY.
  • Usage on Social Media only is approved with no additional edit or retouch.



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