How to use a dance card in the Romantic Age
For a young lady few things would be more satisfying than being a sought-after dancing partner at a glamourous ball. But if she was in constant demand, how would she keep track of the partners engaging her for the waltz or the cotillion later in the evening? And how would a gentleman secure a dance with her?
Keeping track of the gentlemen who had promised a dance in the course of the evening was done – on the Continent – with the assistance of a so called ‘carnet de bal‘ (a dance card). A gentleman would ask a lady to write down his name on the card a for a specific dance. These small and often precious carnets de bal were very popular in France and Austria throughout the 18th century.
In Britain, the dance card became fashionable at around the turn of the 18th century. The carnet de bal initially was often less elaborate than the Continental model.
Dancing at a historical ball in a perfect Regency period-setting: my dream of heaven came true a couple of days ago at the Grand Jane Austen Ball in Ansbach/Germany.
I have selected some photos of the event for you. Follow me to a splendid night in ‘Regency-Wonderland’. Continue reading
Music fills the ball room. The English chamber orchestra The Pemberley Players strikes up. About 100 persons dressed in historical costumes dance the elegant formations of the opening polonaise, smiling and greeting each other. A glittering ball set in the Regency period begins: We are at the Grand Jane Austen Ball, pretending to have travelled in time back to Regency England.
The Museum of Creativity proudly presents “An Empire-Style Ball Gown Based on 21th Century Clothes”.
“I cannot determine what to do about my new Gown”, Jane Austen once wrote to her sister Cassandra. This is a feeling many of us can sympathize with. If you are going to attend a ball set in the Regency period, figuring out what to wear, where to get it or how to do it yourself is no easy task.
I am going to go a Jane-Austen-Ball at the end of this month. As I can’t sew, I tried to make the ball gown from everyday clothes I had found in my cupboard. But halfway through roughing out a concept for a modest white cotton gown, I stumbled upon a dazzling beautiful red lace in an oriental drapery. Though I knew perfectly well that I haven’t the sewing skills to handle the lace, I bought it. Continue reading
In this post:
The truth about longway dances of Jane Austen’s time
How to perform a longway dance in a historically correct way
Tips for depicting a ball in your novel
Preview: Dance instruction and music to come in part 2
Dear Regency Enthusiast
A couple of weeks ago I took part in a workshop in Old English Country Dances*. First-hand experience of the culture and techniques of the regency era can be very enlightening for writers (see my post on Five Methods of Research). Indeed I came across very helpful facts – and a dark secret of contemporary country dance teaching. Fancy that: All the longway dances from Jane Austen’s time are today deliberately taught historically incorrect. Shocking! Why are the dances usually done incorrectly? How were they really performed? And what should you know to when you write a scene with a ball for your novel? Continue reading