February 11, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

If you’ve seen a film about a Jane Austen book, or a regency period film, you probably noticed the elegant balls they used to host. The dancing at those balls is something we rarely see these days. That is, unless you’re part of Almack’s Historical Dance Society. The group is based in Idaho Falls and has been around for about a year.

Stephanie Carstens is the founder of the society. It all started when she wanted to go to a regency ball years ago but couldn’t afford it. She decided she would just have to host her own ball! She enjoyed it so much she decided to try to teach others about this style of dancing.

Fifty people showed up to the first practice session. Carstens then knew she had to form a group.

When deciding what to the name the group, Carstens asked the community what they thought it should be called.

“There’s a famous author, Carla Kelly, she writes regency romance novels and resides in Idaho Falls,” Carstens explained. “And she said ‘You know, if you’re going to do an English country line dance group you have to name it Almack’s.’ She explained to me that that was the most prestigious place to dance and you needed an invitation to go there… It was an exclusive dance club over in England.”

The dancing is mostly English country line dancing but they also feature other types of historical dancing. Some from Spain and others from American pioneers.

“It’s not intimidating at all. It’s more like graceful walking with other people,” Carstens said. “If you can walk and remember a simple pattern, you could have a lot of fun doing this.”

One of the great things about this kind of dancing is that it is easy to get to know those around you.

“They were meant to be social,” Carstens explained when talking about regency balls. The whole purpose for dancing was to socialize. That means the dancing can’t be too complicated or distract from interacting with others.

Carstens said, “I tell everyone, any age!” Her own six-year-old daughter will join in on a few of the dances and loves them. They’ve had senior couples attend their practices and balls and they keep up with the pace just fine.

If people want more of a challenge, they provide that as well. Before certain balls they hold multiple practices so those interested can learn more complex dances.

“You can come in and learn a dance in five minutes,” Carstens said.

Their next dance is happening Thursday, Feb. 14 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Idaho School of Ballet in Idaho Falls. It’s a Valentine’s Day dance, especially for couples. In addition to their normal historical dancing there will also be some regular slow songs popular for this day and age.

For more information visit almackssociety.com or if you have questions email ladycarstens@gmail.com.