Are you a Jane Austen superfan, or maybe trying to woo one? Here are 5 modern dates that exude Regency romance, without resorting to awkward/nerdy fan fic or roleplay.
1. Berry Picking
“The whole party were assembled, excepting Frank Churchill, who was expected every moment from Richmond; and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking–strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of.–”The best fruit in England– every body’s favourite–always wholesome.”-Emma
Strawberry picking, or really fruit picking of any sort, is a fun, whimsical date that gets you out-of-doors and provides an activity that neither person is probably overly-familiar with. The best part, of course, is enjoying the fruit of your labors afterwards, whether with an impromptu picnic or as dessert that night.
Strawberry Season: Late April-Late June, depending on where you live.
Blackberry Season: June/July
Raspberry Season: Early Summer, then again early Fall
Blueberry Season: All summer long.
2. Regency Ball
“‘What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! — There is nothing like dancing after all. — I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies.”
`Certainly, Sir; — and it has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world. — Every savage can dance.’” -Pride And Prejudice
For those girls who sigh while watching Austen characters engage in witty banter while dancing a reel, try to find a Regency Ball near you. English Dances “in the spirit of Jane Austen” are more popular than you’d think (more popular than I thought?) and give you an opportunity to quadrille like no one is judging (and, at least in that room, no one will be judging.)
If you don’t know the steps, many of these dances have ball preparation classes leading up to the big event.
Big Regency Dances:
Jane Austen Ball, Rochester New York, May
The Quadrille Ball, NYC, January
Jane Austen Ball, UCLA, May
3. Horseback Riding
“Amongst the objects in the scene, they soon discovered an animated one; it was a man on horseback riding towards them. In a few minutes they could distinguish him to be a gentleman; and in a moment afterwards Marianne rapturously exclaimed,
‘It is he; it is indeed; — I know it is!’”-Sense and Sensibility
Horseback riding is a great date idea–animals, nature, adventure, and a touch of romanticism. It’s widespread enough for every metropolitan area, and certainly most country settings, have horse trails and (relatively) affordable rentals and lessons. Choose a secluded walk and luxuriate in the fact that you can take your time, rather than dash off to save some family member or another from an ill-advised marriage or worse scandal….
4. Fishing (At Pemberly, or Otherwise…)
“The conversation soon turned upon fishing, and she heard Mr. Darcy invite him, with the greatest civility, to fish there as often as he chose while he continued in the neighbourhood, offering at the same time to supply him with fishing tackle, and pointing out those parts of the stream where there was usually most sport.”-Pride and Prejudice
If you don’t grow up in the country, or in, uhm, 1810, there’s a chance you’ve never been fishing before, and first-time activities are perfect for dates. Grab some tackle, some bait (is that the same thing?) and head out to the first creek outside of town. The change of scenery will put both parties in an excellent mood, and you can sit back and talk while having a ready activity for moments when the conversation lulls. If you’re lucky, you’ll have to work together to reel in a fish….
5. High Tea
“Sir John never came to the Dashwoods without either inviting them to dine at the park the next day, or to drink tea with them that evening. On the present occasion, for the better entertainment of their visitor, towards whose amusement he felt himself bound to contribute, he wished to engage them for both.
‘You MUST drink tea with us to night,” said he, “for we shall be quite alone.’”-Sense and Sensibility
In America, high tea has a reputation for being a special activity, perfect for baby showers and visits with your mother. But tea is really just an excuse to squeeze a fourth meal into the day, perfect for afternoon dates. Scones, sandwiches and desserts are all served along with piping hot tea, usually in quaint settings that will appeal to any Austen-enthusiast. Additionally, most English tea shops will serve pub food as well: shepherd’s pie, roast beef, and yorkshire pudding (if tea cakes aren’t your fancy.)
A tea shop can be an especially lovely date setting: it’s more unique than your typical Starbucks, and versatile, too: depending on how your date is going, you can linger over your pot of tea for hours, or take off after just one cup.
(If you’re in New York, or visiting New York, try Tea and Sympathy in the West Village, is an authentic British tea shop beloved by Anglophiles and Brits and men and women alike!)