At the Floral Ball (1900)

by popegrutch

Alternate Title: Au bal de Flore

Another short dance movie by Alice Guy, this one actually credits the dancers and includes hand-tinting. I’m not certain if this made it into “The Celluloid Closet,” but it is definitely an early example of same-sex romance on screen.

At the Floral BallWe see two women dancing – one is in a rather low-cut dress and the other is in 18th-century men’s clothing. They dance for a while and then a chair appears on the stage and the female-dressed woman sits down, apparently overheated. She signals the “man” to come over to her, and she shyly approaches, then sits on her lap and begins kissing her arm, Gomez-Addams-style, working her way up toward her face. The woman, sitting at a lower level, stops this before it goes any further than her elbow, but the two remain embracing in apparent rapture.

At the Floral Ball1A pretty racy ending for 1900! As I say (and indicate below) these dancers/romancers are identified by name in the title card, and they look to me like the Columbine and Harlequin from the previous short. This suggests that they were part of an all-female dance troupe, and perhaps well-known in Paris or elsewhere. How did audiences of the time respond to two women showing such affection? Presumably Guy and her superiors at Gaumont felt it would be accepted, and possibly the fact that one of them is dressed in men’s clothes makes it OK, just as the audience for “Turn-of-the-Century Surgery” accepts the doll as the character of the knocked-out patient, despite its “unrealism.” Perhaps it would have been less acceptable at the time for a man to kiss a woman on stage, because of the assumption that he would be aroused, whereas a woman theoretically could not be (recall the strong reactions to “The Kiss”).

Director: Alice Guy

Camera: Unknown, possibly Alice Guy or Anatole Thiberville

Starring: Lally and Julyett of the Olympia

Run Time: 2 Min

You can watch it for free: here.