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Alexandria gives Colonial dance a whirl

Courtesy Alexandria CVA

Colonial dancing may not be the next craze on “So, You Think You Can Dance,” but that doesn’t mean it’s gone the way of the Founding Fathers.

Llike modern line dances, the old-fashioned dancing is simple and fun to learn in a group setting.
“I tell people that if you can count to eight and you know your lefts and your rights, it is pretty easy to pick up,” said Liz Williams, assistant director at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria.

Gadsby’s is one of the most historic spots in a town with no lack of them. It is actually two buildings — the historic tavern, frequented by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other Founding Fathers — and the old hotel adjacent to it, now a restaurant decorated in a quiet Colonial vein.

Between them, the two buildings have areas for meetings and special events. The hotel’s historic ballroom is where Washington partied during Birth Night banquets and balls held in his honor in 1788 and 1789. Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural banquet was held there a dozen years later. There’s also a ballroom and an assembly room in the tavern, now a museum that is operated by the city.

To add some history to events, staff can arrange for a dance master to give lessons. “Eighteenth-century dancing is like line dancing; we’ve taught as many as 85 people in the ballroom,” Williams said. ”There’s usually a lot of giggling.”

Groups also can take tours with costumed guides, who lead the way with lanterns. “It is a way to see the tavern in a ‘different light,’” said Williams.

Colonial foods like Sally Lunn Bread and Tipsy English Trifle are obvious choices for group meals, but planners can also opt for more modern fare. And who’s to say you won’t be a little nimbler on your feet after a few Metropolitans?

For more Alexandria articles:

Hot times in Alexandria’s Old Town

Alexandria gives Colonial dance a whirl
A quick look at Alexandria