By Murtz JafferSpecial to the Star
Wed., Oct. 12, 2022timer6 min. read
updateArticle was updated Oct. 13, 2022
If you like watching “Bridgerton,” now you can experience it in person.
I guess that applies even if you don’t like the show.
Netflix has brought “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience” to Toronto. The travelling exhibition that has already made stops in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal and San Francisco invites guests (an invited guest is anyone who agrees to buy a ticket) to dress up in their best Victorian wear and go to a not-so-secret location to experience what it is like to live in London circa 1813 for about 90 minutes.
In Toronto, the event takes place at the Cinespace Studios at 8 Unwin Ave.
Note that there are spoilers ahead for anyone who is thinking about attending so continue to read at your own discretion.
What does the experience entail?
There are two rooms of “Bridgerton” to enjoy in your two-hour frolic. Upon arrival, you are immediately led into a room where various merchandise stands are set up that feature additional items to spruce up the costume you chose to wear to the proceedings. Translation: a final chance to buy something themed if you decided to ignore the advice of dressing up.
Next, you will see a ballroom with a checkered dance floor and this is where the main show takes place. After a lot of pomp and circumstance, the Queen is introduced and takes a slow walk around the room before taking her seat at the head of the table.
Audience members are then invited to show their respect by bowing or curtsying in front of her. The best bow or curtsy wins her favour and can lead to you being named the “Diamond” of the Ball. Your prize? The chance to stand in the centre of the room and be photographed by strangers. In addition, you will also see a faux Duke and Duchess prancing around who later lead a group dance session toward the end of show.
From there, you can explore a second room with a variety of themed photo-ops that include being able to take pics with replica costumes from the show, a chance to sit on the Queen’s chair, and a second chance to take a prom-style photo in front of a grassy wall.
After attending, I have prepared some quick tips to help any of you who want to do so.
1. You will feel awkward if you don’t wear a costume
When you visit the Bridgerton website to purchase tickets to this shindig, it says that a strict dress code is not enforced. While technically that is the case, it isn’t in actuality. Trust me, if you don’t invest or rent a ruffly dress or a Duke of Hastings-inspired suit and top hat, you will feel very out of place. Everyone who stood in the line with me wasn’t just in costume, they all looked like they were in very expensive costumes. Part of the intangible costs (more on those later), for this shindig is the advice to rent a costume. I looked into this, I only found one viable option, which was the Theatrix Costume House in Hamilton, Ont. Guess it isn’t a coincidence that the show has arranged a partnership with the rental company where patrons can secure a 25 per cent discount with proof of ticket purchase. After a quick scroll through the Theatrix website, budget between $125-$150 for this (assuming you don’t have a closet full of Victorian attire already).
2. Get there early
When I went to the first public session, my first question was how directions worked in the Regency era. Were there compasses instead of Waze apps? I am not sure what confused my Uber driver more, wondering why I was wearing a black fedora or winding through a Cherry Street that feels like it has been under construction since 1813. To their credit organizers do make an early departure clear on the instructions. Just make sure to adhere to it as the Queen waits for no one. Also, regardless of whether you are driving or using a ride-sharing service, tell the security guard to drop you off at Stage Door D because no one wants to walk there from the security gate in their heels.
3. Prepare for handsome fees
Do you have to be a member of the Royal Court to be able to afford this? Well, first it’s important to differentiate what all the different prices mean.
Let’s start with general admission.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, there are only 7 p.m. evening sessions available. On Fridays there are 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. availabilities. If you want to go on a weekend, options include 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.
The prices vary depending on the time you choose. Afternoon sessions are $69 per person on Fridays and Sundays but $79 on Saturdays. Early evening sessions are $79 per person on Fridays and Sundays and $99 on Saturdays. Evening sessions range from $59-69 but are bumped to $79 on Fridays and $99 on Saturdays.
As for the VIP, the cost is just over $100 per ticket.
There are also group bundles and discounts available if you go with a group of six or more.
Once there, there are some themed drinks.
A “Lady Bridgerton” — gin, simple syrup, hibiscus syrup and sparkling water — is $16. The “Whistledown & Dirty” is vodka, lemonade, and mint. It’s also $16. Craft beer is available for $10 and imported beer goes for $12.
4. You must like Instagram
Whether you love the show, hate the show, or love to hate the show … there is no sense in coming to the Queen’s Ball if you don’t like Instagram. The entire experience is basically a shrine to the social media platform. If you are a super fan, you might go for a break from the mundane work week, but this is really about showing off that you were there. Photo-ops include seeing a recreation of the Modiste to see costumes from the show, getting your own artist studio portrait taken (which is then displayed around on large digital frames around the venue much to the envy of the other strangers who have no idea who you are) and taking a photo on a regal-looking red couch with a Last Supper-inspired portrait behind you.
5. To VIP or not to VIP, that is the question
As part of my self-guided tour, I was given VIP access. When I arrived, the entrance line was divided into general admission and VIP. This certainly offered a very Medieval Times feeling with the commoners on one side and the debutantes on the other. That said, the only real difference to start was that the VIP holders got to check in first. Once you did, you were given a special card with a gold string. Little did I know how important that card would become. After heading to and paying $5 for coat check, I asked the staff member who took my jacket what the VIP card was for. She then informed me that I should have been wearing it on my wrist and if I had, I would get my coat checked for free. Funny that no one mentioned that before so if you are planning on going, make sure you do that first. The wait to get my refund on coat check prevented me from quickly grabbing an early seat at the Ball, thereby negating the incentive for the VIP access. So really, the VIP comes down to whether you really want to have a seat for the show or not. While it is relaxing, there is something to be said about being up close and personal with the Queen and that can only be achieved by standing. Oh, and you also get a free glass of champagne if you are a VIP.
‘The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience’ is now open and runs until December. More information is available at bridgertonexperience.com/toronto/
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