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*Lord & Lady Grantham Retreat
*SDVDS Photo Gallery
*Photos Mackinac Island

Our next Vintage Dance Week Summer 2015.

Our latest dance week event in 2013, at the fabulous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI, is now history. This one time only dance week followed on the heels of the Grand Hotel's own Titanic Weekend, an amazing weekend of food, fashion and history.

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Mary Jennings

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The San Diego Vintage Dance Society is a 501C nonprofit organization dedicated the study and preservation of historic social dances of the 19th and early-mid 20th Centuries. We are available for special dance performances, and have appeared at the San Diego Symphony, the Lyceum Theater, and most recently at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the National Museum of Scotland. Our group also sponsors vintage dance events complete with authentic live music, encouraging appropriate historic style attire and behavior by attendees. Our most recent dance evening was the Downton Abbey Ball, April 2014.

NEW! We're welcoming the fabulous Mari Black Trio for a titillating Tea Dance on November 9, 2014, noon to 3pm, at the Veteran's War Memorial Bldg, Park Blvd in Balboa Park. Ms. Black is an award winning violinist with an impressive command of several vintage and international music styles. Suggested costuming is fall colors of the early 20th Century. Cost is $15 at the door.

We also periodically host special weekend dance festivals which include lessons as well as themed dances. Our last dance weekend was A Victorian Weekend at the fabulous Glen Tavern Inn in Santa Paula, November 2013. We hosted a Titanic 100 Year Anniversary Commemoration Weekend in 2012. Our New Year's Eve 2013 dance party with a Casablanca theme, "Rick's Cafe Americain," was also a fun, fun time.

We have hosted 6 dance weeks, each one unique: our most recent historic/vintage dance week in 2013 was on Mackinac Island (see report on left), and our penultimate dance week on the fabulous Queen Mary in Long Beach Harbor in 2011. Our vintage dance weeks are always spectacular, one-of-a-kind events, featuring incomparable vintage dance instruction, plus evening themed events, authentic live music, tea & much more!

Join the San Diego Vintage Dance Society on Facebook to get event notices and updates on future events. The link is in the left column at the bottom. If you are not on Facebook, you'll need to check this webpage periodically for updates/news, as we no longer maintain a separate email list.

Lord & Lady Grantham's Fall Retreat, Oct 17-19, 2014 

Join us Friday afternoon 3pm, October 17, for the start of a magical back-in-time weekend celebrating the first quarter of the 20th Century, a la Downton Abbey. There will be lectures, a dance class, croquet on the lawn, vintage silent movies, dinner, and even a fabulous Saturday evening ball with authentic, live music by the marvelously versatile, Ian Whitcomb and Randy Woltz. Participants are strongly encouraged to 'dress the eras'(1912-1927) for the entire weekend, including day wear and evening wear, as appropriate. Distressingly modern clothing: jeans, shorts, tennis shoes, mini dresses, tee shirts are NOT APPROPRIATE. This event is PREPAY ONLY, limited in attendance.

Cost of the weekend program is $105 per person (hotel is separate, below) and includes all lectures, classes, plus Saturday night dinner and dancing, and the Sunday afternoon Tea Dance (new this year). Lunches and Friday dinner are on your own, in the Inn's restaurant, or nearby. To register for the weekend, use the form listed in the left-hand margin. Our festive weekend will take place at the Glen Tavern Inn in the historic hamlet of Santa Paula, just east of Ventura. This charming Tudor-Craftsman Inn was built in 1911, designed by famed architects Burns and Hunt and funded by a consortium of twenty-five wealthy townsmen, brings to mind an English manor house, and provides the perfect setting for our weekend.Rooms at the Inn are available for $79 per night . For Hotel reservations ONLY, the Inn's website is You must purchase your event packet through us: do not contact the Hotel for this. If the Glen Tavern Inn is sold out, as we expect, a nearby alternative is the lovely Santa Paula Inn B & B:

Glen Tavern Inn

History of the Setting.
At the time the Inn was built, Santa Paula was growing and prospering as an oil town, and was headquarters to Union Oil. The Inn was erected directly opposite the train depot to provide accommodations to the many newcomers lured to the area by the burgeoning oil and citrus industries, and to provide a gathering place for Santa Paula's growing high society circles.
During Prohibition, the Inn retained something of its Wild West origins as the third floor was utilized as a speakeasy, brothel & gambling parlor. Many legends stem from this era, including tales of murdered prostitutes and shootouts between unruly gamblers.
In the 1930s, Hollywood discovered the valley hamlet of Santa Paula. Its ruggedly picturesque vistas and hills – improbably close to the sprawl of Los Angeles - provided a setting for numerous Westerns. During this era, the Glen Tavern Inn hosted such notables as Carol Lombard, John Wayne, Houdini and canine thespian, Rin Tin Tin, who boasted his own suite long before “pet-friendly” entered the hospitality lexicon.

Vintage Dance Lessons in San Diego
There are (nearly)free beginning/intermediate vintage dance lessons on Fridays in Balboa Park at the Casa Del Prado Bldg. Rm 207, from 7:30-9:45 PM. Learn basic dance steps as well as choreographies.

Contact WaltznSuch link(left) for more information.

SD Vintage Dance Week


Balboa Park Club


February 1, 2014 we again experienced the enchantment of a traditional 19th Century Victorian Ball, celebrating the music and dances of the Strauss family and their contemporaries. San Diego's own Grand Pacific Waltz Orchestra,under the direction of Mr Joe Dyke, provides LIVE authentic music for Waltzes, Polkas, Quadrilles, Schottisches and more! Mid-late 19th Century ball wear was much in evidence, with everyone dressed to kill. The fabulous Ms. Joan Walton of San Jose, California was our Dance Mistress for the evening. Ms Walton, an authority on historic vintage dances, also taught a basic class in "survival waltz", as well as the Quadrilles of the evening, in the afternoon prior to the ball.This year we were thrilled to have the Academy of Dance Libre, a vintage dance troup from the Bay Area, join us for a wonderful performance.

The Ball and afternoon class both take place in our favorite grand ballroom, the Balboa Park Club, a 12,000 sf 1915 ballroom in famous Balboa Park, here in San Diego. While clothing of the 19th Century is always appreciated at our events, it is not required. However, this is always a formal event, and formal wear is required (no jeans, tennis shoes, mini-skirts, sandals, etc. allowed.)

Our next Viennese Ball will be January 31, 2015, in time to help celebrate the 100th birthday of Balboa Park. Tickets will be available Fall 2014.

Viennese Nights Ball


Richard Powers: Musings & Thoughts on Dance
Going Out Dancing – How to have more fun; how to let your dance partners have more fun!A few (MUST) ground rules:
Some dances travel in line-of-direction, like waltz, polka, one-step and foxtrot. For these dances... 1) The fast lane is on the outside. Please don't block or slow down the traffic. Dance in the fast lane only if you can keep up.... don't be a rock in the rapids! 2) The slow lane or stationary steps are in the center, the eye of the hurricane.
If you're not dancing for a moment, please clear completely off the floor. The dancers will appreciate it.
Floorcraft-- Please take extra care not to bump other couples. i.e. don't step on others, don't rock-step back onto others, don't throw your partner into someone else (!) and don't ram another couple (!!). Always be aware of the others around you. Guys, look where you are going to lead her before you send her there. Don't start a move unless there is room. Protect her from collisions.
In swing, don't do aerials or kicks in crowded conditions. Even if you have lots of space, never attempt to lead an aerial with someone unless you've carefully practiced that move with them.
Don't wear heavy perfumes and colognes to a social dance. Most people don't consider it very sociable, and some have allergies. And similarly...Dance hygiene! Need we say more? (Your partners may find it hard to dance while holding their breath.)
We encourage you to dance with people you don't already know. Most dancers will be happy to dance with someone new.
If you are far more experienced than your partner, dance for your partner's style and comfort. Yes, some challenges and surprises are fun, but being pushed around uncomfortably isn't.
Give your partners all of your attention. Let them know, somehow, that you'd rather be dancing with them than someone else.
Dancing is all about having fun. Criticizing your partner isn't fun. Don't give an impromptu lesson unless asked.
If there is live music, don't treat the musicians like canned music. Let them know that you appreciate their presence and their talent.
Relax. Don't get flustered, keep moving, laugh at what happened if appropriate but keep dancing. Truly exceptional dancers will almost always make a mistake look like something they planned if at all possible. There are no mistakes in dancing, only new moves.
Dance for your partner. But also dance with your partner — have fun yourself and let your partner know that you're having fun with them.
Happiness itself is the way to dance and to live. It isn't something you try to get from dancing or living. Happiness is something that you bring to dancing, and to life.

— Richard Powers

San Diego, CA

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