The beautiful dance card pictured at right (click to enlarge) went by me on ebay almost two years ago, but the seller kindly uploaded a full set of pictures, inside and out, which I carefully downloaded for future reference. The rest of the images may be found further down this post.
The event for which the card was designed was L. G. Marini's 21st Annual Floral May Festival and Ball, held at Marini's Hall, Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 20, 1880. The card is unused.
The dance program, alas, was quite banal, a standard late nineteenth century mix of waltzes (seven), the Lancers (four), a galop, and two polkas. The ball was begun with an aria from Bellini, and the music given for each dance is by well-known composers such as Strauss, Weingarten, Planquette, and Weigand. There were seven dances plus the aria before intermission and seven after. No grand march is mentioned.
I'd held off posting this card for so long because I couldn't really think of much to say about it except that the cover illustrations were charming and that it specifically mentioned that refreshments were to be served from 10:00 to midnight, though it neglected to give the actual time of the ball.
But there is one minor detail of note: the first polka, to a tune from Faust, is listed as "Polka (Glide)". The other polka is just plain "Polka". Why the difference?
There is a polka variation called the Glide Polka which appears in M. B. Gilbert's Round Dancing (Portland, Maine, 1890) and a few other sources including, oddly enough, several physical education manuals going well into the twentieth century.
It's very rare for any specific dance variation to be mentioned on a dance card. So while we can't be perfectly certain that the Glide Polka described in Gilbert is what was meant, even the chance that it is documenting the use of that variation makes this card notable.
So let's talk about the Glide Polka!