Friday, October 26, 2012

Men Don't Know How Much Your Dress Cost

I love this quote. Please take it as permission to make your ballgown of the cheapest fabric that looks good. At the time the dance manual was published, fashionable ballgowns were really over the top, and used huge quantities of fabric. The average American woman would not have anything as elaborate as the french fashion plates depict, but she would still need to make a significant expenditure. Hillgrove points out one place where a lady can economize.

Ladies should remember that men look to the effect of dress in setting off the figure and countenance of a lady, rather than to its cost. Few men form estimates of the value of ladies' dress. This is a subject for female criticism. Beauty of person and elegance of manners in woman will always command more admiration from the other sex than costliness of clothing. (Thomas Hillgrove, A complete practical guide to the art of dancing, New York, Dick & Fitzgerald, c1863, p. 18.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Humorous Account of a Ball

An Old Dance.—There is a very pretty dance, which young ladies are very fond of leading their parents, and which is generally played to a very pretty tune, but which has never been described yet. The following are the principal figures of this popular dance, which, for the want of a better name, we will call "La Flirtation : "—
First Figure. (Before Supper).— The lady and gentleman meet, take hands, and retire to a secret corner in the room. They sit, exchange glances, smile, and join in a general round of conversation. The gentleman makes the first advance, the lady the second. This continues several times, when Mamma comes forward, and the gentleman goes off to the right, and tbe lady to the left, and Mamma is left to go through the Chaine des Dames by herself.
Second Figure. (At Supper).— The gentleman hands across chicken, ham, jelly, and trifle, which are taken by the lady, and empty plates returned. They take wine, and balancez. Bonbons and crackers are exchanged several times, when Mamma comes across from the other side, and Daughter glissez out of the room. Gentleman sits opposite to pigeon-pie, and goes down the middle of the lobster salad and up again.
Third Set. (After Supper).— Lady chassez out of the room. Gentleman follows. Grand galop to Conservatory. Poussette from corner to corner, concluding with a quiet set on ottoman. Lady drops her glove; the gentleman fait la reverence, and pockets the same. Ditto with bouquet. They join hands, talk, laugh, nod, and whisper to side faces, when Mamma comes down the centre, and galops across to lady. They dos-a-dos, and the dance is concluded by the daughter being poussetted round the Conservatory, and chassezed up to bed. The gentleman does the cavalier seul out of the house, advances to a lantern, sets to a cigar, and promenades slowly home.
(Punch, London 1849, p. vii.)

The Soldier is Ever the Creature of Circumstances

I find it wonderfully amusing that the first three entertainments that occurred to these young men were playing cards, dancing and practical jokes.

The soldier is ever the creature of circumstances, and we had made up our minds to take ''things as they came" and let care go drifting; and the leisure time was employed throughout camp in games at cards, dancing, and practical jokes. (Charles M. Clark, The history of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry, (Yates phalanx.) in the war of the rebellion. 1861-1865, Published under the auspices of the Veteran Association of the Regiment, 1889, p. 13.)

The cold December days and the long dreary nights here were full of surmises and expectancy, with now and then a stirring rumor of the approach of the enemy. Aside from this, there was nothing to excite or amuse. By way of variety, an occasional dance would be indulged in, and many will remember that it was while quartered in the Orrick house that Colonel Osborn learned his first steps in the contra-dance from Phil. Lace, the band leader; and so captivating did it prove for the gallant Colonel that it was reported that he was often seen, in the dead of night, careering around with his shadow reflected on the wall by the light of a candle. But this, doubtless, was somewhat imaginative. (Charles M. Clark, The history of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry, (Yates phalanx.) in the war of the rebellion. 1861-1865, Published under the auspices of the Veteran Association of the Regiment, 1889, p. 29.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Calvin Coolidge's 1925 Inaugural Ball

What an impressive ballroom! There probably wasn't much room for dancing this night.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Civil War Soldiers at a Dance

Do you wonder what dances civil war soldiers were fond of? According to this Harpers Weekly article, the Virginia Reel was a favorite. I love the idea that they would repeat the dance seven or eight times in a single evening. Did you notice that the soldiers wore clean white gloves?


THE view on page 236 of a ball of the non-commissioned officers and privates of the Fifteenth Corps at Huntsville, Alabama, is thus decribed by Mr. Davis, who furnishes the sketch: Since the occupation of this place by General LOGAN the soldiers have made many friends, and a few evenings since they gave a ball, at which a considerable number of ladies were present. The ball was as well conducted and as full of enjoyment as any affair of the kind ever given in this place. The soldiers, with their well-brushed though somewhat worn uniforms, clean white gloves, and bronzed, happy faces, presented a sight well worth seeing. Their very intimate acquaintance with balls of a far different nature and mission seemed to have peculiarly prepared them for enjoying such a gathering. The sketch gives the ' Virginia Reel,' danced with energy, and often performed as many as seven or eight times during the evening. General LOGAN attended the ball for a short time, and expressed himself pleased to see the quiet respect that was every where shown the gentler sex by their brave attendants." (Harpers Weekly, April 9, 1864)