‘Bridgerton’ experience brings out 19th-century cosplay love
Costuming is key when meeting the Queen at Pullman Yards.
1 / 13
(L-R) Valerie Ross of Ellenwood and Morgan Garner of Douglasville pose for pictures at “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience” at Pullman Yards in Atlanta on Friday, July 22, 2022. (Arvin Temkar / email@example.com)
The Queen sat nearly expressionless as her minions approached and bowed and curtsied.
Patrick Lucht, a Winder resident who works in human resources, wanted to impress. So he curtsied as low as he could, then dramatically fell to the ground. The Queen lifted an eyebrow in surprise. Lucht sprawled on the ground momentarily, then crawled away.
“Sometimes,” Lucht said moments afterwards with a beatific grin, “a bow cannot be low enough.”
On a recent Sunday evening, more than 100 people attended “The Queen’s Ball” at Pullman Yards in homage to the Netflix period drama “Bridgerton.” It’s in the same warehouse space that had previously housed the insanely popular “Van Gogh Experience” and the not quite as popular “Picasso Experience.”
“The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience,” which started in Los Angeles in March and has now been in six cities, is decidedly different and far more interactive. The 90-minute event runs five days a week Wednesday through Sunday with prices dependent on what day you opt to go. It’s cheapest on Wednesday, priciest on Saturday night. It runs through Sept. 18.
The organizers actively encourage cosplay, meaning nearly all the attendees raided the internet for costumes and accessories that echoed the British 1813 Regency period the TV show emulates: hoop skirts, stockings, chokers, fans, tiaras, puffy sleeves and silk gloves, to name a few.
Ketara Channell of Rockmart came with her sister Samantha and was one of the first ones in the VIP line. “I’m a pretty big British history buff,” Ketara said. “I love the glitz and glamour of it all.” Ketara purchased a high-waisted baby blue regency tea party dress on Amazon for $29 with $12 satin gloves and costume jewelry for another $20. Her sister added a hoop skirt for $15 under her flowery $52 dress, with $10 worth of extra jewelry to boot.
But comfort did trump historical accuracy when it came to corsets. Few opted for that torture.
And modernity intermingled with the past in fine fashion. The first room featured a “photo op” where people posed in front of a royal backdrop that made them look like they were in a 19th-century painting.
“Please have your phones ready for your QR code,” proclaimed one of the 14 employees dressed in period costume and using a fake British accent.
The show itself is not entirely historically accurate and many attendees showed off exposed tattoos and wore high heels, which were not the norm in 1813.
About 80% of the attendees were women of all ages and races, reflective of the appeal of “Bridgerton” creator Shonda Rhimes, also known for racially diverse, female-centric shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How To Get Away With Murder.” (Netflix and Rhimes’ production company Shondaland approved all aspects of the experience.)
“I’m a big Shonda Rhimes fan,” said Nerissa Dyess, a 38-year-old election training supervisor from Marietta who came with two friends and carefully fashioned her own hair to look period appropriate. “I love her writing. She was one of the first producers to offer such diversity in cast and she shows real depictions of how life is.”
The men who were there embraced the “Bridgerton” ethos.
Darien Colquitt, a 26-year-old student, wore an outfit that looked like it came out of the closet of Simon Basset, the heartthrob from season one played by Regé-Jean Page. He drove up from Jacksonville to accompany his girlfriend and high school crush Savannah Woodson.
“My senior prom was terrible,” Colquitt said. “This is my redemption prom.”
Brienna Carthern, who said she does costuming in the film business, said she spent way too much time dressing up herself and her boyfriend Christian Kaminski, whose outfit was highlighted by a white cravat, a forerunner to the modern necktie.
“I just wanted to feel amazing,” she said.
“You look amazing,” Kaminski said.
In the next room, attendees lined up to greet the Queen while a trio of musicians played classical versions of modern songs, some of which were also used on “Bridgerton” itself, like “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift and “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo. A handful of actors dubbed “valets” intermingling with the attendees then gathered them together in a long line to teach them basic quadrille dance steps that were in vogue back in the day.
Then the ball itself began in the main room, festooned in “Bridgerton”-style decor. Professional dancers elegantly moved to covers of hit songs by Lizzo, Maroon 5 and Ariana Grande while ticket holders were also able to partake in the waltz, a few more choreographed steps and some “Soul Train”-style vamping.
The Queen ended the night by selecting a Diamond of the ball, considered the party’s most coveted jewel, an epitome of grace, beauty and charm. She opted for Villa Rica’s Derrick Santos, 30, who donned his Victorian wedding dress from 2020. “I feel ecstatic,” Santos said moments after his win, bits of confetti still in his hair. “I really tried to impress the Queen. I love to dress up and be noticed.”
Credit: RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org
Credit: RODNEY HOemail@example.com
The experience ended with a full-out party on the dance floor as the DJ blasted songs like “Single Ladies” and “I Will Survive.”
Samantha Channell, who was among the first in line two hours earlier called the experience “spectacular. Totally worth every penny spent.” She loved the dancing and the violinist who gave Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” an energetic ride.
She did feel the 90 minutes went by too quickly. “There wasn’t enough time to do all the events and see all the experiences,” Channell noted. “We missed a few things waiting in line for the picture ops.” She hopes to go again, this time with VIP access to see what she missed the first time around.
Greg Lombardo, the head of live experiences for Netflix, said the 90 minute time frame “is truly dictated by balancing intimacy with demand. We have had such heavy demand, we need to do multiple shows a day and keep the capacity limited.”
IF YOU GO
“The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience”
Wednesdays to Sundays through Sept. 18. $45-$94; VIP tickets $85-$148. Pullman Yards, Building 1, Rogers St., Atlanta. feverup.com.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.