Proper Ball Room Conduct

Important rules of Ball Room Etiquette



Copyright Corporation of London

My Dear Patron, as we have found in the case of our dear Evelina, the Ball Room is an arena where manners should be observed to the utmost.  I would not advise going to the ball without a good knowledge of the proper proceedings.  As my friend Thomas Wilson, Dancing Master from the King's Theatre Opera House says in his "Dissertation on the Present State of the English Ball Room:" 

            “So many causes for Complaint existing of the miserable state of our Ball Room Dancing, particularly English Country Dancing, our boasted national Dance, and which (if the present plan is pursued, will soon become a disgrace to the country) it is necessary for its Improvement, that its neglected state be shewn, and, where and on whom ought to fall the Blame; and that a remedy be pointed out, not only for the Direction of those who wish to improve, but also to answer the purpose of those who are about to learn.”

           I have included here, for your betterment, a sampling of the "Rules of Etiquette" that Mr. Wilson includes in his book, The Ballroom Companion: 

  Important Rules of Ball Room Etiquette:

            "On entering the Ball Room, each lady intending to dance must be presented by the Master of the Ceremonies with a ticket on which is inscribed the number of her call, according to which they afterwards take their places in the dance.  The first Lady is entitled to No. 1; the second to No. 2 and so on.  These numbers should be placed in a conspicuous place, and remain there till the Dancing is finished to prevent any misunderstanding respecting situations in the dance; for no one can claim a place, without displaying their ticket."

            "Gentlemen are not permitted to enter the Ball Room, in boots, spurs, gaiters, trowsers, or with canes or sticks; nor are loose pantaloons considered proper for a Fall Dress Ball. (for more information on proper dress, do see my section entitled Appropriate Dress)"

            "The usual honors of bows & courtesies should be observed at the commencement and conclusion of each dance." 

            "When a company is divided into different sets, no person must attempt to change their set without permission of the Master of the Ceremonies.

            No couple out to refuse to stand up directly the Dance is called as it shows great disrespect to the Lady who calls it."

            "Ladies or Gentlemen, being without partners, should apply to the Master of the Ceremonies, whose place it is, if possible to provide them."      

  "Should any couple stop, or perform the same figure twice with the same couple, they must drop one couple, or stand out, as they must not interrupt those that follow in the same figure." 

            "No person should leave the room immediately after they have had their call, without the Dancing is concluded for the Evening, as it evinces great disrespect to the company." 

            "No person during a Country Dance, should hiss, clap, or make any other noise, to interrupt the good order of the Company." 



Copyright Corporation of London

 These rules should get you started, but one can never be too knowledgeable about the ways of the Ball Room.  I understand the task of all of this research seems daunting, but I assure you, nothing is more delightful than dancing the night away with a pleasant, well-bred partner.  




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