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May 21, 2015


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Oh, this is such a brilliant reference, Susan! Thanks for pointing it out. Very entertaining, and very useful.

For what it's worth, the last two quotes both seem rational and not really contradictory to me; the second-to last sounds to me like it means "bad enough no men asked me to dance, but then, just to make things worse, several men asked me why I wasn't dancing and yet didn't help out by actually asking me to dance...and then I get home and my parents/siblings/whoever keep asking me who I danced with, and I have to keep admitting "oh, no one"...and then the kiss of death is I had to listen all night to my friend humble-bragging about "oh, it was so terrible for me to be constantly asked to dance all night long, oh pity me..."

And then the last one (which, admittedly, is complaining about someone asking her to dance, so I do see it seems to contradict the previous one) is I think a comment on how women were forced to be passive in the dancing and courting realm. She can't go up to the man she really likes and ask him...she just has to hope he asks her. Finally, he's going to do it, and then she loses her chance because by putting herself where he would notice her, someone she didn't want to dance with noticed her first...

Yes, I'm sure you already know all that. :-) But...I guess to me both of them seem perfectly rational. The former being about the embarrassment of being a wallflower, being publicly on display as unpopular or undesirable, and then everyone around seeming to (hopefully unintentionally) rub it in. The latter being about how difficult to pursue a man if all the rules say you have no ability to do so!

Cara (who needs to learn how to be terse)

No need to be terse, Cara, plenty of room in the comments! Though my inability to be succinct is why I ended up with my own blog...

The contradiction I was thinking of, which I didn't express very well in my post, was that evidence from some period descriptions of balls suggests that a lady had only a single partner with whom she danced every dance. Other evidence suggests that people changed partners after every two country dances or other dances. So in one situation it might be that multiple men are missing multiple opportunities to ask a lady to dance, and in another it might be that you only get one partner for the evening and the less desirable gentleman asked first. I don't have enough evidence assembled to figure out under what circumstances different partnering arrangements obtained.

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Fancy Dress Balls & Masquerades

  • Kickery's sister blog. Currently dormant but includes brief discussions and illustrations of historical fancy dress and masquerade balls.
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