Victorian Dancers T

top hats & lace
By Allison Mowatt
he Victorian Era is one that brings to mind visions of fancy costumes,
prim ideals, thought provoking poetry, and powerful queens.
Northeastern Pennsylvania has its very own Victorian entertainment
thanks to a charming vintage dance troupe called Top Hats and Lace, Inc.
The group is directed by founders, Joan and
Jules Dobitsch of Hamlin. The couple has a fondness for the elegance and beauty of Victorian
dance, dress, and music. Joan and Jules started
attending Victorian Balls in Cape May, NJ, twice a
year for about ten years. “I’ve always loved the
revelry of the Victorian Era,” said Joan. They
also joined a group directed by John McKeon.
Their earlier exposure to the dance was generally
confined to the South Jersey area. From there,
they started their own group right here in
Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Joan’s passion for the dance, dress, and music
of these times was a major force in establishing
awareness of this historic period to our area.
Many other people share Joan and Jules’ love for
this timeless and classic Era. Since the group
formed about four years ago, it expanded from
four couples to nine couples; all are local residents.
“Our primary focus is to be a social group that
enjoys dressing and dancing and bringing joy to
the people of our area,” said Joan. “Our mission
is to entertain and encourage interest in
Victorian/Civil War dance, dress, and music of
this highly breathtaking and interesting time.”
The group is hard to miss since they perform in
14 connections magazine
colorful historic dress of the 1852-1919 Era, covering the Victorian, Civil War, and Edwardian
periods. Some of the outfits are handmade by
group members, and others are purchased online.
Whatever they can make themselves, they do.
“If we have to purchase a costume, we’ll still add
our own embellishments or make our own hats,”
said Joan. In addition to the clothing, the music
and dancing represent these times periods as
The authentic 18th Century costumes are how
people recognize this cheerful bunch as they
stroll through the streets of Honesdale or perform
these old-fashioned dances at festivals and other
events. According to Joan, the troupe’s ministry
is visiting nursing homes, and they’ve performed
at numerous nursing care facilities throughout
the area. “It brings us such pleasure to be able to
bring joy to the elderly and entertain the community during special events,” she said.
The group has performed during numerous
local events, including the rededication of the
D&H railroad station in Waymart, First Night in
Scranton, and the Coalminers Picnic in Nanticoke. In addition, the group has graced the
streets of downtown Honesdale for various festivals and events, performed at Tea Parties in local
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churches, made appearances in senior centers,
and entertained for charitable or civic organizations.
On September 11th and 12th, Top Hats and
Lace will be performing during the Victorian
Weekend in Belvidere, NJ, and on December
11th, the group will make an appearance during
The Spirit of Christmas event in Olde Newcastle, Delaware. In the spring, there are tentative
plans for the group to entertain during a fashion
show at the Wayne County Public Library in
Top Hats and Lace is currently looking for
more couples or men, as there are women without any partners. Free lessons take place
Monday evenings at the Hamlin Senior Center
on Route 590.
For more information, call Joan at (570) 6899835.
Joan and Jules Dobitsch of Hamlin, Janet and Ken Lewis of
Scranton, Joann and Mike Taylor of Olyphant, Judy and Jim
Seeley of Lake Ariel, Cheryl and Joe Delfino of Lake Ariel,
Janet and Gerry Williams of Honesdale, Sharon, Rob and
Jordyn Williams of Hawley, Joe Kaspar of Peckville, Ellen
Gianacopoulos of Scranton