It’s been a while since I wrote a meetup review, but I don’t want to ignore some of the fun things I’ve had the opportunity to do!
On October 31, 2009 the Chicago-area lolita convened at Russian Tea Time for tea! The meetup was in honor of the holiday, so attendees were asked to dress for the theme–gothic, spooky, or otherwise Halloween-related. Everyone really went out of their way to wear their best; they all looked great!! I was such a stark contrast to our usual meetups, where brighter colors tend to dominate.
No-one really thought I would take the theme to heart, but I surprised everyone when I showed up in black and high heels! Miss Nena graciously lent me something from her closet, since everything I own is pink, white, or red. 😡 Well, except for my special blue floral one-piece, but that’s still not right for a Halloween theme! I had thought I’d have to coordinate some kind of lolita-esque costume from my clothing and other accessories in order to be appropriately dressed, but I really wanted to participate fully. It’s a lot of fun to step outside your normal boundaries and try something new!
The tea room provided a section of the restaurant just for our massive tea party… there were so many people I didn’t get a chance to talk to everyone. (I also spent a lot of time outside the doors, searching for stragglers! I am usually a bit of an Alice-beacon when it comes to meetups.) Several attendees weren’t lolita I’d seen before, and that makes me really excited. I like seeing new faces–it shows that lolita fashion is a growing trend, not a dying one.
The tea house served their house blend; it was a little spicy and had a mulled type of taste that was very heart-warming for a chilly day. The cups they used weren’t traditional teacups–instead, they were metal stein-shaped holders for thick glass insets into which the tea was poured. I could definitely understand the appeal–I didn’t burn my fingers by accidentally touching the bowl of the cup that is heated by the tea, as I sometimes do with china teacups. Servers constantly refilled empty cups, never leaving an empty glass empty for too long.
The trays of refreshments were really delightful. The top tier contained scones, two per person, and whipped cream and jam. Clotted cream may be the proper topping for scones, but it isn’t often served in Chicago. Traditional clotted cream requires unpastuerized cow’s milk, which isn’t readily available in the United States, and the jarred “clotted cream” sold at specialty shops is really gross if you’ve ever had actual clotted cream. The jam and whipped cream was delicious, although the cranberry-raisin scones didn’t really need toppings to taste wonderful!
The second tier held a vast assortment of finger sandwiches–smoked salmon, tiny rolled crepes filled with diced vegetables, roasted red pepper, mini Ruebens, and little quiches! The savory items were a very nice size–bigger than one bite, but smaller than four–allowing everyone to taste as many as they wanted. I enjoyed eating other people’s shunned smoked salmon sandwiches~
The bottom tier held a mind-boggling assortment of sweets! Cookies, pastries, and other sweets, all piled up together. There were so many that I didn’t even know what I was eating; I couldn’t keep up with the servers’ descriptions! They even brought out individual plates for everyone with two teeny-tiny cream puffs. It was very luxurious.
After the tea was over, we headed across the street to the sculpture gardens around the Art Institute. The lighting inside the tea house was much too dark to get any nice pictures, and everyone was dressed so lovely that it seemed like such a shame not to. (And many people wanted proof for daily_lolita, of course.) I brought my camera, so my person followed my little sister and me around, capturing our nonsense. I’m not very good at posing nicely for pictures–something is always off: mouth open, eyes askew, weird expressions, etc.–but I do like getting into trouble and having a record of it. My little sister and I are usually up to no good, especially when we’re dressed up.
After pictures outdoors (we moved over to Millennium Park, too) it became too cold and some people had to leave, so those who remained went to the Chicago Cultural Center. The Cultural Center is in a beautiful building, and there is no admission, and there is always somewhere to sit and chat. Once people thawed out a little, more pictures ensued in-between conversations. As more and more people headed out and the group dwindled further, I found myself in part of a group aimlessly browsing at the Marshall Field’s on State Street before heading home.
It was a really great time, and there are so many hilarious pictures to prove it! I only wish I could have talked to more people–I was right at the front end of the table, so I only interacted with maybe four or five people on that end. It was too crowded to be rustling around through the crowd. I had a lot of fun being a gothic Alice for one day, but I don’t think I’ll be changing my style anytime soon!