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Places to get Victorian Dance Music Recordings

If any of you have ever purchased a CD with a title like "Strauss Waltzes" by, say, the Berlin Philharmonic, you may have discovered that bands focusing on the concert performance of dances don't really play in a way that is congenial for actual dancing. They are too slow or too fast or have muddy unclear tempi, or the tempi change suddenly.

While I am a firm believer in live music, no matter how humble, for your ball--if you are running a dance class, practising at home or listening for pleasure, you need a good recording.

Take heart! There is hope. There are a few bands out there whose CDs are made with dancers in mind.

The Brassworks Band, based in San Francisco, and regulars at the Dickens Christmas Fair, have produced a couple of CDs with a good deal of dancable material. Their recordings can be found at

The Americus Brass Band is a local, Southern California band with a fine, American sound. Unfortunately, their one totally dance-focused recording, "19th Century Grand Ball", which was produced many years ago in concert with Desmond Strobel, our late Dance Master at the Social Daunce Irregulars, has not been released on CD. Perhaps if enough people pester them, they will finally get around to it.

Here's their website:

Their existing titles contain some dance music, but also contain "concert pieces"

Music of the Civil War

The Dodge City Cowboy Band

Buffalo Bill's Cowboy Band

Spare Parts is a band based in the Northeast, that specializes in Victorian and early 20th Century dance.
Their titles, as far as I can tell are

The Civil War Ballroom

American Period Dance

Tango Viejo

Now Tango

They have a website at

If you are looking for a band that does "Californio" music, of the sort you might hear in a Fandango before the American conquest, I would suggest "Los Californios". Their music is steady and well suited to dancing.

Here's their website:

As if to prove that it is possible for a "big time" concert band to actually do good dance music, the Eastman Wind Ensemble put together a CD called "Homespun America", which contains a lot of good dance stuff as well as some swell 19th Century American kitsch.

You can get it on Amazon

If you want to venture overseas, the French have produced some good dance CDs. These contain some good Set Dance stuff, which is, unfortunately not as well represented as it should be in the above selection (with the exception of Spare Parts).

I would recommend the work of the "Carnet de Bal" folks. I own two recordings, and am very intrigued by a third. They can be purchased at

If your French is a little rusty, click the British flag in the upper right for an English language version of the site. The recordings I own are "Le Bal Du Kiosque a Musique" and "Carnet De Bal".

There is also one there called "Bal des Citoyens" which says it is the contra dances of the French Revolution. I just bought it, and look forward to listening. I wish we had it a few years ago for the "Scarlet Pimpernel's Ball". With shipping, it came to $23, which is a bit steep for a CD, but given the sorry state of the Dollar vs. the Euro, not to be wondered at.

These are the recordings in my own collection. I am sure there are some good ones out there I just haven't heard about. If you want to add your favorite to the list, please do so with the "comments" tool. Also, please give a URL where it can be obtained.


Thanks for the reviews!

These days the Dickens Fair is hiring Bangers & Mash for Fezziwigs, and they have a CD out of the music they play there, which can be had at

It is quite danceable.

The Brassworks is the band we use for Gaskells, and even after all these years of telling them to slow down a bit, they still play waltzes too fast and polkas at a dangerous pace.


I just thought that you would like the following cds

'Old time set dances' such as the lancers etc is very good by savoy music. Most of their music is not suitable but this is
Pastperfect has very good music of the 1920's and 1930's
Russian ark dvd amazon very good mazurka and the leopard dvd amazon also.

The Broadside Band CD "English Country Dances from Playford's Dancing Master 1651-1703" includes "Mr. Beveridge's Magot," which was featured in the 1995 BBC/A&E production of "Pride and Prejudice." This group has another CD titled "John Playford's Popular Tunes." I found them on The CD cases include an email address ( and website ( I am very new to Regency/Contra dancing, but these seem promising.

A future post will address good sources of recordinds for English Country Dance.

Thanks for those this is also a good link

But as yet I can't get contact with them !