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  • Writer's picturecaitlyncallery9

Masquerade: A front for scandal

When Little Lady said she had to be an Ancient Greek for school, I came back with a variation on that old joke from “1066 and all that.” I said, “the ancient Greeks are all past pensionable age. No one will believe an 8 year old is one of them.”

She gave me an old-fashioned look that made me laugh more than the joke did.

Today was the day. Little Lady looked fab - and made me think about the Regency fancy dress parties I’ve been researching.

Masquerades, as they were called, were very popular at the time, especially among the elite, or the ton as the highest level of London Society was known. The costumes ranged from a domino – a voluminous cloak with a hood that could, when combined with a mask, hide everything about the wearer's identity – to men in Roman togas and women in scandalous and scanty (for the time) Greek or Egyptian tunics. (Much scantier than Little Lady's was today. These party goers also wore masks, ranging from a simple eye mask to concoctions that covered the entire head.

In these masks, people could flirt, and more, without losing their reputations because their identities were well hidden. Even a basic eye mask could conceal more than you would think when paired with other disguise accessories, such as a wig.

Masquerades were seen by many as scandalous and immoral. The Bishop of London denounced them, and famous figures such as William Hogarth warned against them. Even among the party goers there was an acceptance of their scandalous nature; innocent debutantes would not be expected to attend them at all, and the behaviours at them was expected to go far beyond the acceptable.

I'm currently working on a story where a rebellious debutante attends such a party and meets… you'll have to wait and see.

Suffice it to say, her chaperone would NOT approve.

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