Social Success: Five Pieces of Regency Etiquette (Part Six)

Returning once more to aid any aspiring ladies and gentlemen in perfecting their knowledge of etiquette, Behind The Past will focus here on the conduct required of them in the ballroom. A ballroom is a place – or, at least, it ought to be a place – of elegance and refinement. It should be a place where courtesy, civility and general all-round social polish reign. It should not be a place tainted with impropriety or vulgarity.

The etiquette detailed here will be of particular interest to gentlemen. However, it is only natural that a lady might take an interest as well. After all, a lady might wish to acquaint herself with the standards to which she should hold the gentlemen of her acquaintance.

Of course, it should be noted that the sources from which we have drawn our guidance do not, in this instance, strictly fall between the years of our esteemed Regency. Nevertheless, they are thought to be close enough that no reasonable lady or gentleman can object to their usage.

Therefore, and without any further delay, we shall proceed with a useful and compact set of etiquette hints and tips:

  1. Gentlemen ought to be very particular in their manner of dress. It would be most incorrect of them to present themselves to the company in pantaloons, for example.[1]
  2. It would also be very wrong for a gentleman to entire a ballroom whilst still in possession of either his stick or his cane.[2]
  3. A gentleman should also not wear boots in a ballroom.[3] [4] However, naval and military officers must naturally be an exception to this rule.[5]
  4. When escorting a lady to or from a dance, a gentleman should hold the lady’s left hand in his right. [6] The lady should therefore be on his right side.[7]
  5. If there is an unfortunate lack of ladies in attendance at a ball, it is permissible for two gentlemen to dance together. [8] However, they should take their place at the bottom of the dance.[9] 

 

Footnotes

[1] Wilson, T., An Analysis of Country Dancing, Wherein all the Figures used in that Polite Amusement are Rendered Familiar by Engraved Lines: Containing also Directions for Composing almost any Number of Figures to One Tune, With some Entire New Reels: Together with the Complete Etiquette of the Ballroom, 4th Ed., (London: W. Calvert, 1822), p. 189.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Woakes, W. H., An Essay on the Attitudes Derived from Gesture to be Attended to in Dancing, With Observations on the Art: Also, the Etiquette of the English Ball Room, (Hereford: W.H. and J. Parker, 1825[?]), p. 40.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., p. 20.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wilson, An Analysis of Country Dancing, p. 190.

[9] Ibid.

 

Bibliography

Wilson, T., An Analysis of Country Dancing, Wherein all the Figures used in that Polite Amusement are Rendered Familiar by Engraved Lines: Containing also Directions for Composing almost any Number of Figures to One Tune, With some Entire New Reels: Together with the Complete Etiquette of the Ballroom, 4th Ed., (London: W. Calvert, 1822).

Woakes, W. H., An Essay on the Attitudes Derived from Gesture to be Attended to in Dancing, With Observations on the Art: Also, the Etiquette of the English Ball Room, (Hereford: W.H. and J. Parker, 1825).

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