While doing more in-depth research on Lowell’s Victorian downtown dance sites, I became particularly interested in two buildings, one of which still stands. After months of digging into the history of these buildings and the men who built them, the results are now online: www.twirlingjennies.com/taleof2ballrooms
The Lowell Folk Festival is here and we expect to be out there dancing ourselves silly all weekend. Signed copies of Twirling Jennies are available at COOL Place, 122 Merrimack Street, right next door to El Potro Restaurant and smack dab in the middle of the Festival. Their extended hours for this weekend are 11–7 on Saturday and 12–6 on Sunday.
Also, if you’re a fan of Lowell history, I recommend checking back here in a couple of weeks. I’ve got several pages of additional research and photos regarding three area residents and two buildings (all nineteenth century) that are almost ready to go online.
We’ll be selling books and doing 3 short performances at Mill no. 5’s Otherwhere Holiday Affaire next Saturday. Loads of interesting vendors, fascinating setting. Come join us! The Affaire is from noon to six.
I recently put together a easy-to-follow little tour based on a chapter in Twirling Jennies. I eventually hope to get these brochures printed in quantity and made available at various downtown Lowell locations. In the meantime, pdfs for printing the front and back of a single 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet can be found via the link at left, or you can get to the files directly: http://www.twirlingjennies.com/dancetourout.pdf and http://www.twirlingjennies.com/dancetourin.pdf
We’ll be in downtown Lowell at Mill no. 5’s OtherWhere Market from noon to 6:00 on Saturday, April 30th signing (and selling) books. For those who don’t know, Mill no. 5 is an eclectic mall on the fourth floor of 250 Jackson Street—just follow the signs from the sidewalk to the elevator hidden in the back corner of the breezeway.
There’s a Steampunk theme for the Market this time around and we’ll be doing presentations with demos at 1:00 and 2:30 regarding Victorian and Edwardian dancing in Lowell.
Put in revisions today to correct those couple of errors that Susan de Guardiola was kind enough to point out, plus I fixed one annoying error about the history of Chelmsford Town Hall that I’d misunderstood from my original source. Added one photo and tweaked another, and I added some more endnotes. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same book, just without the mistakes!
It may take a few days for the revisions to go through, but after that any new orders will get the revised edition.
I just came across a very nice review of Twirling Jennies from back in October on Capering & Kickery, a dance history site. Being the first review I’ve seen from a serious dance historian, she’s found some errors, alas. Elias Howe, the dance master, was not the same Elias Howe that invented the sewing machine (although they were born a mere year apart, and confusing the two is not uncommon). And The Lancers Quadrilles go back further than Twirling Jennies states. But beyond that (and some other lesser technical quibbles), she’s quite enthusiastic.
So, my apologies for the errors. Much as I would have liked everything to be perfectly accurate, it comes as no surprise that, with all the detail crammed into the book, a few mistakes were made. Happily, that is what second editions are for!
Twirling Jennies has gotten a couple of nice reviews at Amazon. (And yes, I’ve been suggesting to readers that they write a review, but no, I had nothing at all to do with what they chose to say.)
There’s also now an official press release that can be seen via the link at left.
And here’s an interesting image that I found after Twirling Jennies went to press, probably from around 1870:
Despite Twirling Jennies having been edited multiple times by multiple professionals, I knew that minor mistakes would still be turning up after it went to press. As one editor put it: “The text is so rich there are always more layers to delve into… I could proof this forever.”
Unfortunately, the first mistake to come up was someone’s name in the list of contributing photographers, a mistake that no one could have been expected to catch but me, and I didn’t. Since the idea was to thank this person, not to publicly mangle his name, a correction went in promptly to the printers. But several copies went out with the misprint.
So I would like to thank Meyer Billmers here, along with the others properly thanked in the book (Doug Plummer, Ella Carlson, & Corey Sciuto) for providing some wonderful photographs to help me tell the story of dancing in Lowell. I’ve also added a link here and on the “Links” page to Mr. Billmers lovely image of C# Pavilion at Dusk (currently image #10 in the gallery). It is impossible for the printed page to equal the impact of this particular image seen electronically.
There are a great many other people who also contributed to the book with information and images (although no one else with recent photography of their own). Perhaps I’ll take a stab at listing them all in a future post.