Never mind Ms. Austen’s characters’ obsession with money, manners, and marriage. What really matters about the Regency era is handsome clothing and English Country Dancing.

That's not necessary!  (from Jane Austen Ryan Gosling Tumbler)

That’s not necessary.

It’s okay to hate on Jane Austen and still have a good time at the Celebrate Jane Austen Event on June 7th at the beautiful, historic Ramsey House. Dance lessons will be given at the event from 2:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. A starlit Regency Ball commences at 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.


If you really want to develop your dancing chops in time for the Ball, join the English Country Dancers at the Laurel Theatre on Sunday nights.

Come observe the fascinating and unusual Tenpenny Rapper Sword Dancing at 7:00 p.m., and learn dances like “Old Wife Behind the Fire” and “Mr. Isaac’s Maggot” at 8:00 p.m. Live music provided by Dave Greenwood on clarinet and Mark Kiser on recorder. (These dances are aerobic, so don’t forget to bring your water bottle.)

take hands four


Knoxville’s English Country Dancing group began 30 years ago, says co-founding member Karan Dotson. She learned the dances at the John C. Campbell Folk School and at Berea College. Dotson acts as caller and gently reminds dancers to maintain a straight long-way line.

Joining an established group of dancers can be intimidating, but these folks were friendly, patient, and kind to this beginner. The dances are charming and neighborly with partner changes and dancing in sets of couples. At times men briefly dance with men and women briefly dance with women, thus creating a sense of community.


Dancers wear casual modern clothing at the weekly sessions. They dance in peasant style attire when performing in public.


Dancing at historic Rugby’s spring festival in Scott County. Photo by Mark Cristy.

Dancers wear evening full dress for the group’s annual Christmas fete at the Laurel Theatre. Period costume is not required to attend the Celebrate Jane Austen Regency Ball. Most of the English Country Dancers make their special occasion dance outfits. For the men, dark full-length trousers, a vest, and long sleeve shirt can pass as evening attire.

English Country Dancers' Christmas Fete.

English Country Dancers’ Christmas Fete. Photo by Mark Cristy.


Hardcore historic reenactors Charlie Rhodamer with Heidi and Laurence May at The Laurel Theatre.

Hardcore historic reenactors Charlie Rhodarmer with Heidi and Laurence May at The Laurel Theatre.


The June 7th festival will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with the starlit Regency Ball held from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00. Activities include:

  • readings from Austen’s books and papers
  • reenactments
  • tours of Ramsey House
  • doctors program
  • undressing Mr. Darcy
  • undressing a Regency lady
  • tea presentation in the afternoon with several seating’s available 
  • vendors and many people in period costume
  • dance lessons (2:30 pm – 4:30 pm)
  • Regency Ball

For more information about English County Dance, e-mail Karan Dotson at

For more information about Celebrating Jane Austen, call historic Ramsey House at (865) 546-0745.

Cover photo by Mark Cristy.

Ryan Gosling meme from Jane Austen Ryan Gosling Tumbler.

© Debra Dylan, 2014.


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