Dance Etiquette
Please follow the Victorian social customs when dancing:

• It is expected a gentleman will dance the Grand March, the first waltz and the last waltz with his lady.

• It is expected all dancers will participate in some dances with other partners.

• A lady must be escorted to and from the dance floor by her dance partner.

• A gentleman will never approach a lady to whom he has not been properly introduced.

• A gentlemen may ask a lady’s escort or any male member of her family for an introduction.

• Any such request for an introduction may be refused.

• A lady may capture a gentleman’s eye through discrete, ladylike gestures with her fan.

• A lady will never engage herself with a gentleman to whom she has not been properly introduced.

• A lady should honor commitments made to gentlemen on the dance card.

• A lady may refuse a gentleman’s request for any dance.

• A gentleman should accept such refusal gracefully.

• Gentlemen should remove their sabers and spurs prior to the first waltz.

• A gentleman should refrain from smoking, spitting, fighting, or using colorful language on the dance floor or any other location in the presence of ladies.

Types of Victorian Dances


Typically, the dance began around sundown on Saturday, after the chores were all done, with the Grand March and the first waltz. Music would continue until around midnight when the revelers would break for supper. After eating a sumptuous meal, followed by sweets, and washed down with the libation of choice, it was back to the dance floor until dawn. Finally, the strains of the last waltz would echo into the hills just in time for folks to pack up the buggy and get to the Sunday morning church meeting.

victorian danceDancers, both ladies and gentlemen, were issued a dance card that had a list of all the scheduled dances for the evening. The card was a convenience, not only to display a handy agenda of the dances, but which was used to record the names of partners to whom one had committed each dance. It was considered bad form to promise a dance to a partner and then renege for any reason other than medical emergency, such as the "vapors." It was also common, however, for the dancemaster to add unscheduled dances during the evening.

Cakewalk
A dance in 2/4 time characterized by high stepping and leaning back of the upper body. It became very popular on the stage and as a social dance in the 1890's to early 1900's.

Cotillion
A social dance popular in the 18th and 19th centuries related to contredanse and quadrille. They were often performed at the end of a ball. The actual music and danse steps varied.

Fox Trot
American social dance introduced in 1913. The dance steps themselves were highly varied and borrowed from other dances. Popular variants included the quickstep (originally a fast military march) and slow blues.

Galop
A fast line dance in 2/4 time often used as the last dance in the Quadrille. The name is derived by the galloping motion used to move up and down the line.

Gavotte
A Baroque dance in 2/4 time, generally has a moderate tempo, and uses simple rhythms.

Mazurka
Originally a Polish folk dance, this is usually a lively dance in 3/4 time with strong rhythms. Mazurkas were usually danced by 4, 8 or 12 couples.

Polka
The polka, originating in Bohemia in the early 19th century, was an extremely popular fast dance characterized by strong rhythms in 2/4 time.

Polonaise
A processional dance of Polish origin but developed primarily outside of Poland.

Quadrille
A dance for four or more couples, often in 2/4 or 6/8 time.

Schottische
A slow round dance in 3/4 time, sometimes called the German polka.

Tango
A dramatic dance that originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the late 19th century. It is characterized by exaggerated movements by the dancers and abrupt rhythmic and dynamic contrasts in the music.
       
Tarantella
An rapid folk dance in 6/8 time from southern Italy with shifts between major and minor keys.

Waltz
The waltz remains one of the most popular ballroom dances for couples today. It originated in southern Germany and Austria but has evolved from slower, rustic German dances to the elegant, sophisticated and graceful version made popular in the late nineteenth century.

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