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16th Annual Gender-Free Autumn Harvest Ball

  • 09 Nov 2013
  • 4:30 PM
  • 1st Church of Jamaica Plain (Unitarian – Universalist)

Dancing Friends! 

This is my personal invitation to you to come out and join us for our 16th Annual Gender-Free Autumn Harvest Ball! 


This is a magical evening where we take a step back in time to enjoy the lively & elegant contras, squares, mixers & couple dances from the Victorian Era.  All of the music played for this evening's program will be traditional to that era and in most cases, tunes that were specific to the dance itself.  This is our annual once a year event and we look forward to having you join us for this unique autumn celebration of music and dancing.

For those of you who may be traveling in from a distance and need housing for the evening, please let me know, and we will find a place for you to stay within our dancing community.

Date: Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Location: 1st Church of Jamaica Plain (Unitarian – Universalist)corner of Centre & Eliot Streets in Jamaica Plain (Boston), MA.

Caller & MC: Chris Ricciotti

Band: Spare Parts! Including Bill Matthiesen on Piano, Liz Stell on Flute, and special spare part Eric Buddington on Fiddle!

Ball Program:

4:30pm - Doors open to heat or prep food for the evening pot luck dinner.

5:30pm – 6:45pm:  Elegant Candle Lit Pot Luck Dinner

7:00pm – 7:25pm:  Warm up Waltzes

7:30pm – 11:00pm:  Evening Ball (with decadent dessert pot-luck at 9:15pm)

Formal, festive, colorful attire or period costumes are welcome and encouraged for this event.  (Feel free to email or call me - as noted below - if  you have any questions about this or need some ideas.

Admission: Reserve your tickets now! 

$15 in advance or $18 at the door.  Student Rate: $7.00. 

We are offering work exchange assistance (reduced or free admission) to anyone who can help out with decorating ahead of time, set up before dinner, clean up after dinner, dessert set up, or clean up after the ball.  Please contact me (as noted below) if you are interested in work exchange and/or to find out more about what help is needed

As with all our dances, we will not turn anyone away based on ability to pay.


To reserve tickets, to volunteer for work exchange, or for more information:

Chris Ricciotti

Food Coordination: In an effort to help provide a well balanced variety of foods for the dinner and the dessert pot luck, please contact our Food Coordinator Read Weaver at



Doors will open at 4:30pm for anyone who needs to heat up or prep their dish for the pot-luck dinner.

To ensure a well balanced menu and variety of food, Read Weaver is coordinating food for the potlucks.  If you'd like more information, you can contact him at  Read writes: "We ask that people coming for dinner bring dinner food; we've sometimes run a bit short. Of course you are very welcome to also bring something for the dessert potluck; in addition, many people not coming for dinner will be bringing desserts. (We've never been short of desserts!)"

For folks new to our potlucks--we have a large six-burner stove and two large ovens, which are usually set at around 250°F (for reheating) and 375°F (for cooking). We have some serving plates and some serving utensils, but you may be safest bringing your own (which you should label). The kitchen itself isn't huge, so it can be a bit crowded for food prep, especially as we get close to serving so please let us know if you will need this ahead of time.

At 5:30pm, join us for the candle-lit potluck dinner before the Harvest Ball, and then later for the dessert potluck during the break in the evening ball program, BOTH CREATED BY YOU!  We have many talented cooks in our community and the food is always great!   A variety of home made dinner foods including meat, vegetarian & vegan dishes and tasty dessert foods would be greatly appreciated, and feel free to be as creative as you like. 


At 7:00pm (immediately following the candle-lit dinner), our band Spare Parts will provide us some lovely music for waltzing.  We hand out ball cards at 7:25pm and then the ball will begin at 7:30pm with everyone joining in for a Grand March.

The Harvest Ball is our re-creation of a Victorian ball, where we will present dances that were on ball programs around New England during the Victorian Era.  The dances include elegant and lively contras, squares (quadrilles), mixers & couple dances. 

We will use ball cards for this event.  Our tradition at the Harvest Ball is to sign off on each other's ball card after each dance, rather than the old tradition of booking ahead. This helps us keep dancing accessible and welcoming to everyone.  At the end of the evening, you keep the ball card as a souvenir of all the wonderful dances you shared with your friends. 

During the break half way through the ball, we have a delightfully decadent dessert potluck.  Thereafter, more dancing until 11:00pm. 

Chris Ricciotti will be this year’s caller and MC and he is leading this year's ball program.  He is looking forward to providing a fun and enjoyable evening of dancing!  And the music from our wonderful band, SPARE PARTS is the sweetest sound this side of heaven!   This is an incredible evening of music and dancing, not to be missed!


The hall will be decorated with autumn trees, candles and lights to set the mood.  We encourage dancers to dress up in something festive, formal, colorful, or a period outfit for this event.  There is a LOT of exciting history in the early society balls with their codes of etiquette, flirtation codes, and "drag balls" - the developing undercurrent of an early gay society by the late 1800s as well as other interesting stories of gender bending and cross dressing that took place at some of these events.  We will share a bit of this during the course of the evening program!   

This is a special once a year special event that is being sponsored by the Boston Gender-Free Contra Dance Series. The flavor of this evening will be quite a bit different from our usual Saturday evening contra dance.  All dances will be taught, and although open for everyone to attend, some prior contra dance experience would be helpful in attending this event, particularly for some of the more complex figures that may be a part of the program later in the evening.  If you have any questions about this, contact Chris Ricciotti as noted below.


To reserve advance tickets, to help out or for more information, email Chris Ricciotti at

Come, join us for the Autumn Ball – a great evening celebration of our beautiful New England Autumn – a sharing of good friends & golden memories!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Chris Ricciott


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