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  • Belfast Between The Wars


Belfast News-Letter, Monday 23rd January 1928

Art students have an instinct which makes them delight in dressing up. Their training, too, teaches them to recognise type quickly, and they have special facilities for the carrying out of their ideas. These facts enable one to understand why the annual fancy dress dance under the auspices of the School of Art at the Belfast Municipal College of Technology is always a particularly attractive event. This year’s dance, which was held on Saturday in the college, was no exception to the rule. The Central Hall had been specially decorated by the students. The platform, on which Cowser’s orchestra was stationed, was transformed into a woodland scene. The overhead lights were softened by shades representing a pack of cards, and between them there were lines of lights in lovely jewel colours – amber, green, and sapphire. The ever-changing lighting effects had been arranged by students under the direction of Mr. Hezlitt. Every imaginable fancy costume was worn by the dancers, who numbered about 350. There were kings and queens, princes and peasants, figures of historic interest, and famous characters in fairylore, poetry and fiction. It was a veritable Arabian Nights picture, and there was about the whole proceedings a commendable absence of conventionality. Mrs. Earls, Mr. Beaumont, Mrs. Gould, and Mrs. Penpraze acted as hostesses. Mr. Penpraze was an ideal master of ceremonies, for he was indefatigable in his efforts to give everyone a good time. A word of praise is also due to Miss McLean, who undertook the arduous duties of dance secretary. Supper was served in upstairs apartments, the catering being carried out by Messrs. Thompson’s (Belfast), Ltd.


The important work of judging was entrusted to Miss Rosamund Praeger, Mr. Morris Hardy, and Mr. Baker. Miss Praeger’s exquisite sculpture is well known, Mr. Hardy is a London sculptor who is at present engaged on work at the Belfast Cathedral, and Mr. Baker is a talented painter and a teacher at the School of Art. The prize (a cheque) for the best period costume was awarded to Miss Earles, whose portrayal of a 13th century lady was beautiful and admirably suited to her type. The straight trailing gown was expressed in royal blue and purple, with a white headdress under the coronet.

The prize for the best home-made costume of any period went to Miss Maureen Plowman, whose pompadour gown was a most artistic creation, and had been made by her mother. It was carried out in pale blue satin, with a panel of palest pink, and was elaborately trimmed with applications of crimson velvet encrusted with jewels, and tiny wreaths of flowers. The second prize-winner in this section was Mr. Morrow, who was a realistic Turk in purple, green and red.

In the section for costumes of any period or class which might be home-made, bought, or hired, the prizes were awarded to Miss McCullough and Mr. Harry McMullan. Miss McCullough’s Louis XVI costume, in palest pink, was the embodiment of dignity and grave. Mr. McMullan, as an old English gentleman, in a green suit with the characteristic tail coat, was a picturesque figure. A tall hat and side whiskers were impressive details.

A special prize for originality displayed in her costume was awarded to Miss Olive Henry, who depicted “Cock Crow”. The frock was in tangerine bordered with green, on which were appliqued a rising sun and roosters. The headdress consisted of a sun cap, surrounded by cut-out roosters.

A striking costume was that of Mr. J. B. Boyd as a serf. It would have won the first prize had it not been for the fact that Mr. Boyd did not comply with the conditions attached to this award.

Another charming idea was the portrayal of a bunch of violets by Miss McLean (the dance secretary). The frilled frock was of violet net over silver tissue with a waist band of violet ribbon, finished with a posy of violets. The head-dress was a cap of violets, finished with a cluster of upstanding leaves at the back. Almost a prize-winner, too, was Miss S. Knox, who came as a Black Butterfly. The body of the butterfly was very realistic.


A feature was a scene from “Alice in Wonderland.” The delightful topsy-turvy world created by Lewis Carrol, was admirably depicted. Miss Delta Smith, with her hanging fair hair, made a charming Alice. Her frock was of blue organdie, and she also wore a dainty apron. There were the Duchess (Miss Boyle) imposing in pink, crimson and gold, her ladies-in-waiting (the Misses Kathleen Gamble and Betty Clements) in pink and gold, and the card kings and queens – Miss Hopkins, Miss McLean, Miss McCullough, Miss Watkins, Miss Kincaid, and Mr. J. McDermott. Humpty Dumpty (Miss Dick), the cook (Miss Hutton), the baby (Miss Stewart) and the carpenter (Mr. H. Hewitt) were there, too, and course, the Mad Hatter (Mr. Galloway) and Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Mr. McCann and Mr. Williams). Miss Moira Muir was a realistic dormouse, and Mr. Toogood portrayed the cat. The tea table in the famous party episode was a dominant note. Concealed in the teapot were favours and novelties, and these were distributed by the Dormouse, to the delight of the spectators.

Later in the evening, fancy dances were given by the Miss Marjorie Worral, who was wearing a pretty pink frock with bands of silver. Indeed, there was not a dull moment, and the organisers of the dance are to be congratulated upon its magnificent success.

Almost without exception the fancy costumes were far above the average, and here and there were some smart evening frocks. Mrs. Earls was in black, brightened with diamante; Mrs. Beaumont’s gown was of café au lait georgette and silver lace; Mrs. Gould was in black over silver lame; Mrs. Penpraze wore biscuit georgette and lace; Mrs. S. Donald Cheyne was in black, the skirt adorned with applications of coloured silk; Mrs. Park wore a French frock of gold metal lace and black georgette; and Mrs. Tawse was in gold lace and lame.

A striking couple were Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Hillock, who came in gorgeous robes as an Eastern Price and Princess. Among a crowd of gypsies Mrs. R. Brown’s costume, in crimson, blue, green, and white, struck a distinctive note; while Miss Rosa Werner was striking in red, blue, and black. Miss Smith was effective as Bacchante, in green trimmed with clusters of grapes and carrying a wine glass; Mr. Henry Doherty was an unmistakable Sydney Carton; Mr. W. Glenn was capital as “The Absent-minded Professor,” wearing with his dinner jacket grey trousers and brown brogues, and having a quill pen behind his ear; Miss McComb came as Night, in black with silver stars; Miss Marion Wilson was a call-boy; Miss Margaret Orr, a pretty brunette, was a charming Cherry Ripe; and Miss Betty Browne was an attractive Hawaiian maiden.


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