Extravagant European gowns. Enormous powdered wigs. Chic bodices. Diamond brooches. Barbeque ribs down the street.
Bridgerton, the popular Netflix series from Chicago’s Shonda Rimes has come to the city’s South Side.
The social season with ethnic flair is in full swing and Lady Whistledown would agree.
With plenty of champagne, rococo fashions, Beethoven, Mozart and ahem, Beyonce, Her Majesty is rocking the house at the Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience.
Taken from the popular Netflix series about a diverse group of aristocratic families in 18th Century Regency-era London, the event kicked off this week for a two-month performance in the Washington Park neighborhood.
It’s life imitating art at The XS Tennis Education Foundation at 5336 S. State Street. The facility has been transformed into an opulent palace and glamourous ballroom where guests mingle with a handsome royal named Wilfred (he looks like the Duke of Hastings, and curtsy to the character Queen Charlotte.
Like the series and as history tells it, Queen Charlotte is Black. She has grace, elegance and the soulful flair of a diva, who shows a hint of attitude and aloofness towards her subjects.
Maria, who looks like Lady Daphne, whom the Duke of Hastings married in the first season is also present in the ball. When she takes to the floor with Wilfred, it’s an entertaining moment to behold as the two engage in acrobatic dance moves on hanging sheets and yes, a chandelier.
During a visit by a Crusader journalist, many guests wore period clothing similar to that worn on the Netflix series. A female guest who was not part of the show but whose attire resembled that of the show’s matchmaker, sharp-tongued Lady Danbury, was with a male companion. It was an evening of fantasy and mystery at the Queen’s Ball.
The evening begins with a spirited reception in the Queen’s parlor filled with chandeliers and huge floral arrangements. Queen Charlotte sits on her sofa as guests approach her with bows and curtsies as Lady Whistledown gives her commentary. A pianist and a string quartet featuring men in period clothing and powdered wigs play throughout the reception.
The experience is an aspirational one where guests imagine themselves as being wealthy members of the Bridgerton family or the Featheringtons, in London’s Regency era.
Nearby is Benedict Bridgerton’s studio where male artists in 18 century fashion “paint” portraits of guests standing next to busts. Guests can purchase the portrait and bring it home to their palace.
With the Queen leading the way, guests pass through massive velvet curtains for Her Majesty’s Ball. It’s in a glamorous ballroom that resembles the one in the Disney classic, Beauty and Beast. The setting sets the stage for a magical evening. In addition to dancing by Wilfred and Maria, guests are also given dance lessons by “Bee” a sassy and entertaining dance instructor who works the crowd and takes the evening up a notch.
Let’s not forget Lady Whistledown, the gossip society writer who writes about everybody’s business in the Netflix series. At the ball though, Lady Whistledown is on her best behavior as she serves as emcee for the evening. She even provides guests a copy of her rectangular society paper with her silhouette at the top.
After the Queen picks her “Diamond of the Season,” the evening switches to modern times with guests dancing to hip hop music music from popular artists.
The Queen’s Ball ends its run in mid-June. Similar events have been held in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Chicago is the first city in the Midwest to host the experience.
Tickets are on sale now starting at $49 per person. Fans can also follow @bridgertonexperience on Facebook and Instagram for more information and live updates.