Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Monstrous Charming Dance

A gentleman of the early nineteenth century finds the names of dance tunes mildly shocking:

Perhaps (thought I) the beauties of Conversation may be found readily in the mixed companies of men and women at the tables of persons of refined habits and taste. Away went I again, sanguine in my expectations, to the Honourable Miss Tambourine's hot supper; and here appearances promised much; the ladies looked all smiling and lovely, and the gentlemen pleasant and gay.

 I was happily seated next one of these complacent beauties, who, after a little pause, asked me if I danced the new steps, and whether I preferred the " Waltz," or the " Irish Shuffle."

I hesitated a moment, when a lady on the other side, with a red face, told me, that she liked " Drops of Brandy" very much ; and that " Go to the Devil, and shake yourself," was a monstrous charming dance. 

This staggered me a little at first, till it was explained to me, that these were reels called for by ladies of the highest distinction. I could not, however, help thinking, that those whose taste it is which settles the titles of country dances might find out names more adapted to the delicacy of the female character. (The European Magazine and London Review by the Philological Society of London, Vol 41, Jan-Jun 1802. p. 184.)

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