Coming back to cotillion figures, and sliding even further down the weirdness scale, here's a figure that combines playing doctor and still more wacky costumes! The source, once again, is the ever-delightful Twentieth Century Cotillion Figures by H. Layton Walker (Two Step Publishing Company, Buffalo, New York, 1912).
Like the Garden Figure and Stocking Auction figures, Sanitarium is a partner-choosing mixer, but with a much more elaborate setup. Here's Walker's description:
Wig and mask, and stethoscope are the properties that are given the Doctor in this game. The Doctor retires to a side room. Couples who are dancing are signaled to stop and the gentlemen retire to the side of room and ladies step to opposite side of room. A few remarks are made that the place has been quarantined and the health authorities insist on a medical examination of all the guests should be made while the Doctor is entering the hall. He proceeds at once to examine the ladies as to their health. With his stethoscope he taps the first lady on her back, holds his stethoscope to his ear and the other end to her back as if to test her lungs. This done he will write out a prescription (these prescriptions are all in printed form with twelve different kinds of medicine) which he gives to the patient. She at once proceeds to the side room, where the gentlemen have retired and which door is now labeled "Drug Store." A drug clerk who may be one of the guests aside from the couples up will take the prescription, beckon the lady to sit down at one side while the prescription is being filled. She waits a moment, then her bottle marches in life size. These bottles and boxes are all made of Japanese paper and are worn by men. The boxes and bottles are all labeled with medicines which they contain. There will be no trouble finding partners as the ladies will receive a coupon which is torn from the the original coupon.
First, let's pause and visualize a group of gentlemen dancing in giant paper pill-bottle costumes. Got that image? Isn't it great?
Okay, moving on. The props required for Sanitarium are:
- for the doctor: a wig, mask, and stethoscope, plus a pen or pencil to write prescriptions with
- twelve (or however many) human-sized pill-bottle or pill-box costumes made of Japanese paper
- prescription forms which match the labels on the pill-bottle/box costumes
- possibly some sort of costume for the drug clerk
I'm not sure what sort of wig a doctor ought to wear, but the real challenge will be making human-sized pill-bottle/box costumes out of paper that are sturdy enough to handle being put on in a hurry and then danced in. It would be nice to be able to purchase these at a cotillion prop supply store, but even a century ago I suspect these were a home-construction project.
Unlike the previous two, this description spells out the full pattern of this sort of figure:
- a group of couples are selected and dance
- they separate
- they are remixed and dance again with new partners
How the remixing works is explained adequately in the original instructions.
The dancers need to enjoy a bit of role-playing, with the gentleman playing the doctor having to be particularly good, since he has to perform the schtick twelve (or however many) times in a row. Keep in mind that Sanitarium must be entertaining to watch as well as do, since even if every single couple at the cotillion is involved, there is still going to be a lot of time during which the ladies are sitting and watching the individual "examinations". The dancers need to ham it up a bit or things will drag horribly. If the dancers aren't game for that sort of improvisational comedy, don't select this figure.
Also: I'm not sure whether it's intended, but the exams provide an opportunity for ostentatious flirtation, as long as it doesn't cross the line. Stethoscopes on backs, not chests!
On a more practical note, the description is a bit confused about exactly how many side rooms are required (if the lady is sitting in the side room, where do the gentlemen march in from?), but it would be easy enough to have the doctor and the male pill-bottles all get into costume in a single separate room and have the drug store with its clerk and pill-bottle pickup in a corner of the ballroom. That way all the guests would get the full enjoyment of seeing each gentlemen march into the room in all his pharmaceutically-costumed glory!