A few months back I discussed a short piece from Harper's Bazaar naming popular dances for the winter of 1898-1899. In that piece, the "Dewey" cotillion figure, named after the famous admiral, was mentioned. At the time I had no source for this figure and instead described a similar confetti-throwing figure. Since then, I've unexpectedly come across a description in the 1899 edition of the Fashionable Quadrille Call Book and Guide to Etiquette by B. Coanacher. (An earlier edition is online at the Library of Congress.) The 1899 edition has a new cover proclaiming it Clendenen's Quadrille Book and Guide to Etiquette.
F. Leslie Clendenen was a St. Louis-based dancing master and author of at least one actual dance manual, but he is most remembered today as the editor of the 1914 compilation Dance Mad. It's not clear to me whether he actually wrote or edited any of this book or whether the publisher just slapped on a cover with a prominent name to improve sales. The Clendenen cover also appears on a 1917 edition which adds still more dances and some sheet music as well.
Here's the description:
The "Dewey" Figure
will be very popular, the theme is the Bombardment of Manila, and naturally calls for quite a display of patriotic colors. The dancers are arranged in parallel columns and at a signal march, moving in lines executing a strategic play at battle. Finally they line up in two imposing columns, the women on one side, men on the other. On the floor is the stock of ammunition, consisting of red, white and blue paper hearts. At the signal, the bombardment begins, and the combatants seize the hearts and hurl them at their adversaries. The fun increases as the battle waxes hot and the colored hearts burst and the colored paper contents are sent fluttering about. In the end, there is a complete capitulation and the partners waltz off together.
Once again we're back to the patriotic fervor engendered by the Spanish-American War, as discussed in my earlier post. The props used are more along the lines of those used in the French figure Les Boules de Neige (Snowballs), with paper hearts full of confetti made to burst on impact. It is somewhat more practical than Battle Confetti in not having the dancers end in a circle and not requiring mysterious strings crossing the ballroom. As with other confetti figures, it's best done when there is a quiet cleanup crew on hand with brooms!
The "parallel columns" and "strategic play" are vague enough for some fun to be had if the columns (two, women and men? or more?) are provided with imaginative "generals". It's not really clear whether the bombardment is meant, as in Snowballs, to select partners by whom one hits or whether each is bombarding the person who is directly across in the opposing column and thus destined to become their partner. Or possibly the dancers just have a grand old time randomly covering each other in confetti before finding their original partners. Though the waltz is specified for the final dance, there's no reason a polka or two-step could not be used instead, unless the entire cotillion is waltz-only.
"Dewey" is also like Snowballs (and Battle Confetti) in that it is usable by large numbers of dancers. Indeed, the description suggests that it might be a "general figure" meant for all the participants in the cotillion.