At a Ball

The etiquette of the ball-room.

The delight of the hostess’s heart.”

Self-denial the secret of good society.

The etiquette of the ball-room is not difficult to acquire, and yet there are thousands of young men going into society constantly who flagrantly fail in it. Their bad manners are conspicuous. They decline to dance unless the prettiest girls in the room are “trotted out” for them, block the door-ways, haunt the refreshment-room, and after supper promptly take their leave. Could and course of conduct be in worse taste? And what can a poor hostess do? Young men are necessary at dances, and they must be invited. If they will not dance, who shall make them? The delight of the average hostess’s heart is the well-bred man, unspoiled by conceit, who can always be depended on to do his duty. He arrives in good time, fills his card before very long, and can be asked to dance with a plain, neglected wallflower or two without resenting it. He takes his partner duly to the refreshment-room after each dance, if she wishes to go, and provides her with whatever she wishes. Before leaving her, he sees her safe at her chaperon’s side. If he should sit out a dance he returns in time to claim his partner for the next, not leaving her till it is half over, as is the wont of some young men. The truth is that society demands a never-ending series of self-denying actions from those who belong to it, and the more cheerfully these are performed, the more perfect are the manners. What can be more enjoyable than to sit in some cool retreat with a charming girl, enjoying one of those innocent flirtations that do so much to give zest to life? But delightful though it be, the temptation to prolong it must be resisted, if an expectant partner is missing her dance and waiting in the ball-room to be claimed.

Non-dancers should not accept invitations.

The value of private lessons.

The finishing touches.

A fall generally the man’s fault.

It is bad manners to go to a ball unless one is accomplished in the art of dancing. To do so is to take the place of one who may be more expert and therefore in greater request. Consequently, every man who wishes to be a success in society must learn to dance. There are abundant opportunities for doing so at the various dancing “academies,” as they are rather unsuitably entitled, for there is not much about them of the academical, as generally understood. Private lessons are dearer than the others, but they are really necessary for most men who have not been taught to dance when boys. The whole attention of the teacher should be given during the first three or four. A man has so much to learn in addition to the correct movements of his feet. He must be taught to hold his head up, to grasp his partner gently but firmly, not to tread on her toes or knock his knees against hers, and also how to steer his course and hers in an imaginary crowded room. Afterwards come the finishing touches, when, perfect in the steps and carriage of the body, the learner is taught to glide gently from foot to foot, regulating his pace as quickly or as slowly as he may wish. At first this seems to be impossible, for the novice is inclined to “rush his fences,” as it were, and he waltzes round the room at break-neck speed, making himself giddy and breathless, and sometimes causing dire catastrophe. A girl finds it difficult to forgive a man who has made her look ridiculous. The fall of a couple is not a frequent occurrence in a ball-room, but when it does happen it is almost always the man’s fault. Girls take much more naturally to the graceful movements of the dance, and are, besides, more often taught in childhood than their brothers.

At a private ball.

The card should be filled early.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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