In February, the M.O.T. Jean Birch Senior Center will find itself transformed into a 19th-century ballroom, complete with hoop-skirted gowns and Civil War-era military uniforms for the 4th Annual Middletown Incorporation Day Ball.
The event began in 2011 with Middletown's 150th celebration of its incorporation.
Middletown Historical Society Board Member and local resident Linda Harting, who has been organizing the event since its inception said that the idea partly sprung out of the need for a little historical accuracy.
"In 2011, the town was planning a big commemoration for June," Harting explained. "But, I just felt that since our actual incorporation day was Feb. 12, 1861, we should do something special on that day."
Harting went on to explain that the 1860s was a congenial, social time and a big ball with costumed participants plays homage to that. Guests of the event are encouraged to dress in period costumes but it is not required.
"Some of the participants are very into reenactments so they have their own period garb but plenty of people also come in modern church-wear," Harting said of the attire. "At least 80 percent of our guests show up in the garb but it's not the most important part of the evening. It's more about just enjoying each other's company."
For fun, other social mores of the day are also encouraged, like formal introductions before dancing, white gloves, mingling and the assumption that men will assume the initiative when asking women to dance.
Harting, herself, will act as the "dance mistress" at the event, calling out instructions for dances like the German Waltz and the Swedish March.
"All the dances are taught before the calling actually starts," she said, explaining out the event works. "No prior dance knowledge whatsoever is necessary."
The night will also feature light refreshments and live music but organizers are still hoping to obtain a few sponsors, like dance studios or music stores, to help offset some of the expenses.
"Some sponsors would allow us to give more money back to the historical society so we can expand our programming," Harting said. "We really want to continue our educational opportunities and make a bigger impact on the community."