Princess for a Night (almost)

May 16, 2010

Last night I danced the waltz in a floor length dress at midnight underneath an enormous chandelier while French nobility danced all around me.

Really.

The Bal Renaissance was organized by the Young French Nobility as a benefit for Haiti, and it was quite an impressive event. Over 600 guests (many of them went to the benefit dinner beforehand as well) including all manner of Counts, Countesses, Lords and Ladies, and even Princes and Princesses! The black tie bal was a beautiful glimpse into a world that I certainly never thought I’d see, in France or elsewhere.

My dates for the evening!

It all happened very quickly. On Thursday Côme and Ariane mentioned the ‘Bal Renaissance’ that was taking place on Saturday night. They decided that the three of us, and their cousin Louis-Armand, should go. Friday Ariane and I went dress shopping with no luck (a black tie dress was not amongst the clothes I packed for my trip abroad unfortunately). Saturday I found a dress and shoes, got home at 7 pm, and then we left at 8 pm for a light dinner at Côme’s friend Olivier’s apartment. It was a close call, but it worked out just fine!

In spite of any noble ties amongst us we did what everyone does and we took the metro, which was pretty ridiculous in gowns, heels, and in Ariane’s case, fur!

Bringing glamour to the metro system

We arrived at the party at 11 pm, and we drank champagne and took pictures of everyone while waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive. The party was on two floors-the enormous ballroom of the Grand Hôtel, and another dance floor and DJ on the lower level. The guests were dressed beautifully, there was champagne at the open bar, and when the ‘opening waltz’ began it seemed to lovely to be true!

Lights made the entire room glow pink and purple-including the chandelier and the dancers

Reality set in once I tried to waltz with Côme and Louis-Armand. Despite the emergency ‘how to dance the waltz’ class we had at our apartment the night before, the small dance floor combined with a large and enthusiastic crowd of dancers meant that it was lots of bumping into others, stepping on feet, and apologizing, which meant that my concentration on the steps was consistently broken. It didn’t really matter though, at least I got some pictures of the people that managed to navigate the dance floor gracefully!

Once we had all tried the waltz once or twice we decided to go downstairs to dance ‘le rock’ which is actually swing dancing. I’m not sure how long this has been going on, but it’s how French people young and old dance at almost any gathering. And it is so much more fun and interesting than the waltz!

Louis-Armand and I mid spin

I had the best time, and I was so glad to be there in the company of my host siblings (and host cousin). They were all so kind to me throughout the night, everyone danced with me, talked with me, and sat with me once my feet decided that they’d had enough of my new shoes! If I didn’t love them all already I would have after yesterday, but they really went the extra mile to give me an incredibly beautiful night.

I ❤ my beautiful host sister

The night went by so quickly, and in many ways it all seems like a beautiful dream!

Côme and his friend Alice dancing 'le rock'

Ariane and Louis-Armand taking advantage of the nearly empty ballroom

By the end of the night (which was actually early morning) my feet were blistered and I was really in need of sleep. However I did get one last waltz with Côme on the empty dance floor of the ballroom once almost all the other guests had left-and we actually did very well!

The 'End of the Night' picture

We left the Grand Hôtel as the sun was rising, and we caught the first metro home. I didn’t stay up for 7 am pasta, but as I went to bed I was still perfectly happy with the night, and with my French family, who also just happen to be my friends!

A bientôt!

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