What is the first image that comes to your mind when you think of the 19th century? I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a young lady dressed to the nines, ready to go to a ball, like this one at right.
Balls were probably THE most talked-about and enthusiastically attended social events…which hardly seems surprising. Wearing beautiful dresses that in some decades showed off a nicely-turned pair of ankles (as does our young lady from 1811 at left), having the opportunity to spend focused yet limited amounts of time with multiple gentleman over the course of an evening and thereby getting to check them out in a slightly more up close and personal manner, and of course, dancing! I personally can’t help wondering if nineteenth century teen girls loved balls so much because they provided one of the few chances they had, while in London for the social season, to move freely and actively. No gyms or Jazzercize classes were available, don’t forget!
I’ve talked in general about what happened at balls; over the next week or two Regina and I will get a little more specific describing actual dances and other bits of ballroom lore, and I’ll discuss and post some pictures of dance cards from my collection.