The Vau de Vire Society, creators of the annual Edwardian Ball, is re-staging its larger-than-life celebration of San Francisco's decadent, lawless past.
With a nod to a 19th-century nickname for prostitutes, The Soiled Dove combines burlesque, dance-hall era showstoppers, history, circus arts, dinner theater, and cosplay—for the latter, audience members are encouraged to come in their fanciest 1890s ensembles. Everything takes place inside a 12,000-square-foot Italian circus tent.
The society was founded a decade ago by husband-and-wife team Michael and Shannon Gaines; he directs and produces the events, and she choreographs their shows. In a tale that's all too common, the Gaineses were Mission-based until a real estate developer purchased an entire block in 2016, and they were forced to find space elsewhere. With their tent in tow, they relocated to Alameda Point last summer, pitching the tent and setting up new headquarters across the street.
Under the big top, ticket holders will find multiple stages featuring singers and musicians such as the local Jazz Mafia and the Realistic Orchestra, balconies filled with showgirls, and a full-on dining room. At the bar, patrons can pay for cocktails crafted by SF's Monarch Bar and dance with performers, mimicking the practice of the Barbary Coast's "pretty water girls," who earned their wage by selling drinks and, well, a little something extra.