Centuries ago, somebody realized that if a woman’s voluminous layers of petticoats were kept away from her body she would be less likely to cook like a lobster in a pot of lace. (Apparently, the obvious solution, just decreasing the layers of petticoats, was completely overlooked.) Thus, the hoop skirt, an underskirt with stiffening materials to hold its shape, was created. It really was a clever concept until someone, probably a man, remembered that bigger is better. Hoop skirts became larger and larger until women took up as much space as bloated cows. And that brings me to my performance in precisely such a vintage tent.
This December, Jason and I danced again at the Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Hospital, in attire appropriate for the 1860s and also appropriate for causing some exasperation. The circumference of the hoop skirt I wore to this affair measures just over 231 inches. Trying to squeeze that overinflated balloon through the festival crowds was like pushing an orange through a flour sifter.
Our group of six couples danced nine numbers in the half-hour we were on stage. Since this was our second time performing at the festival, Jason and I were unruffled by the little pack of spectators that gradually expanded during our show.
After our routine, my imposing underskirt infrastructure slowed our movement across the exhibit hall. I got stared at and stopped frequently by excited youngsters because of my resemblance to a princess but I didn’t mind being mistaken for royalty.
A week or so later, we attended the Dickens’ Ball. I donned that same wired slip and gave up fitting through doorframes in exchange for an evening of spirited stepping. For, although simple tasks, like sitting, are rendered unpleasant when you’re wearing a skirt bulkier than a bath tub, dancing in such an outfit is a stimulating drama. Your dress’s momentum doesn’t always coincide with your own and its insistent will makes you feel like you’ve a mixed mind about you. It’s quite an amusing commotion. Incidentally, if you know a family of four looking for some new housing, I have the perfect skirt.