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March 07, 2009

A Ballroom Guide

What follows are a few guidelines for those engaged in "Vintage" dance -- though to be honest, I think they would apply equally to a disco. Good behavior is good behavior. I will address these comments primarily to the gentlemen, but much would apply to ladies as well.

1. Don't dance every dance with the same partner. Back in the day, dancing more than two dances with the same partner, especially your spouse, was considered to be highly unsociable. The same applies today. Mix it up, and pay particular attention to those who are not being asked to dance.

2. Back in the day, ladies never asked men to dance. That is one rule that is generally ignored in the modern "vintage" ballroom. Ladies need not wait to be asked in the Victorian age of the 21st Century. Conversely, men should not just sit back and wait to be asked, but assure that less aggressive ladies get to dance as well.

3. If you are asked to dance, but say that you are "sitting this one out", then you can't say "yes" when a better partner asks. It's very rude to thereby say "No, I am not dancing this dance with YOU" to the partner you first refused.

Continue reading "A Ballroom Guide"

Posted by Walter at 07:02 AM | Comments (29)

March 23, 2007

Dance floor consideration

I received this as an email to the Social Daunce Irregulars. While it didn't seem appropriate to forward it to the full announcement list, I think it might do some good as a reminder to consider others out on the floor:

The Victorian Grand Ball on November 25 was enjoyable, and what a turnout! My enjoyment was dampened, however when my ankle and foot were stomped on in the polka of the 3rd set.

Continue reading "Dance floor consideration"

Posted by Walter at 08:21 AM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2006

Victorian Etiquette Video

A few months ago, my wife Sheila and I appeared on the Showtime series "Penn & Teller's Bullshit". We were their "experts" on Victorian etiquette.

Here is our little portion of the program.

Continue reading "Victorian Etiquette Video"

Posted by Walter at 02:05 PM

September 10, 2006

1920s Etiquette - What a Gentleman Never Does

This fourth installment in the Art Deco Etiquette series highlights the ideal gentleman of the 1920s. I particularly like the very cogent observation by Miss Singleton, that gentlemen aren't necessarily good people, but they do behave well in public. This is from the "Conduct and Common Sense" column in Vogue and the Washington Post, and is dated October 21st, 1926.

Continue reading "1920s Etiquette - What a Gentleman Never Does"

Posted by Walter at 07:09 AM | Comments (1)

September 08, 2006

1920s Etiquette - Who Carries Her Cloak?

This third entry in the Art Deco Etiquette series, gives a wonderful summary of what was expected of men when in the company of the new women of the 1920s. It, like the others, is from the "Conduct and Common Sense" column in Vogue and the Washington Post, by Anne Singleton. This article comes from December 9th, 1926.

Continue reading "1920s Etiquette - Who Carries Her Cloak?"

Posted by Walter at 06:57 AM

September 07, 2006

1920s Etiquette - Bad Form in Dress

This is the second installment in the "Art Deco Etiquette" series, which takes as its core, the weekly column "Conduct and Common Sense" by Anne Singleton, which was printed in Vogue and the Washington Post. This article is of particular interest, not only because it catches Miss Singleton at her most waspish (and amusing), but also because it gives some idea of 1920s notions of appropriate dress and coiffure. This one comes from September of 1926.

Continue reading "1920s Etiquette - Bad Form in Dress"

Posted by Walter at 06:44 AM

September 06, 2006

1920s Etiquette - How Much To Expect of an Escort

Last weekend, I gave a talk on "Art Deco Etiquette" at the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival. The core of this was a series of newspaper articles called "Conduct and Common Sense" by Anne Singleton. These are from the Washington Post archive, but appear to have been originally printed in Vogue. This one comes from December 1926. It is somewhat edited and included to give an idea of the etiquette issues that presented themselves in the 1920s, when women were suddenly "liberated" and people were trying very hard to figure out what the new rules were.

Continue reading "1920s Etiquette - How Much To Expect of an Escort"

Posted by Walter at 06:32 AM

July 03, 2006

Presenting the Character of a Victorian Gentleman

If one is involved in a public "living history", where one is wearing proper Victorian attire, one really ought to have the manners to go with the clothing. I think this is as true if you are doing a "third person" presentation as when you are doing a "first person". Proper Victorian attire should always be accompanied with proper Victorian behavior, even if you aren't pretending to be someone else. The effect may be subtle, and perhaps even subliminal, but it all helps.

Here are a few suggestions for a 21st Century man to present an illusion of a Victorian gentleman:

Continue reading "Presenting the Character of a Victorian Gentleman"

Posted by Walter at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2006

Look Mah, I'm on TeeVee

My wife Sheila and I appeared this week on the Showtime series "Penn & Teller's Bullshit". It is a show devoted to debunking things, and this week it was about manners and rudeness. They brought us in to give the show its Victorian connection.

Here is our two minutes of fame. The video requires the Quicktime plugin


Walter Nelson

Posted by Walter at 10:33 PM

Pet Peeve--The Language of the Fan

It never seems to fail: when a docent or re-enactor group decides to do something on "Victorian Etiquette", they haul out "The Language of the Fan".

For those wondering whereof I speak, here is one of many places it is uncritically repeated

Continue reading "Pet Peeve--The Language of the Fan"

Posted by Walter at 09:30 AM | Comments (4)

April 20, 2006

Historical Hatiquette

The subject often comes up at living histories and vintage dances of when to wear hats and when to remove them. While the stuff they told me in the Army of "Hats on outdoors--hats off indoors" is not a bad rule of thumb, in historical practice, it wasn't always that simple.

Continue reading "Historical Hatiquette"

Posted by Walter at 12:57 PM

March 11, 2006

Victorian Ball Etiquette

I am going to briefly touch on some ideas for how to behave at a modern "vintage" Victorian Ball, rather than a dissertation on how Victorians behaved at balls in the 19th Century. For that, see The Gentleman's Page

Continue reading "Victorian Ball Etiquette"

Posted by Walter at 03:53 PM | Comments (1)

February 28, 2006

What to Wear to a "Costume Optional" Vintage Dance

Most of the vintage dance events around here say things like "Historical attire suggested but not required" or "..admired but not required". The problem is, what does it mean to someone who doesn't have the historical costume. Sure, it's not required, but what is?

This may vary depending on the event, but with nearly every event, a man in a coat and tie would not be out of place, nor would a woman in a long dress.

An observation made by the Social Daunce Irregulars on their website is that it is best, if you are not currently deeply into historical costumes, to NOT wear a costume to your first event, but take the opportunity to see what others are wearing and also see if you like this vintage dance stuff. It would be an awful shame to spend hundreds of dollars on a costume and (1) see from looking at others that it was a crappy costume or (2) decide that you don't really like this vintage dance thing after all, and you have now flushed hundreds of bucks down the toilet for a costume you will never wear again.

Posted by Walter at 07:35 PM