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Tag Archives: Dancing

I meant to blog about this site earlier: RegencyRedingote which is one of the most amazing Regency-related history blogs I’ve come across. I feel dumb for not finding it sooner.

this post on chalking Regency ballroom floors is what brought me to the site. I had no idea this took place, but on reflection, it makes perfect sense.

During the Regency, ball-givers often had elaborate images chalked onto the ballroom floor in order to keep the dancers from slipping on the surface. Usually, they used white chalk, as ladies complained about colored chalk staining their slippers. But of course this makes sense!

Think ballet. I took ballet for years. Classes were almost always on a wooden floor and whether you were wearing flats or toe shoes, the soles were leather and we were, well, dancing. There was always a box of rosin in the corner for us to step in to give a little more grip if the floor were recently cleaned or your slippers were new or just because.

So yes! Chalk on the ballroom floors makes perfect sense. And it makes sense as well that people would get fancy about it.

Floral designs were very popular for chalk designs, often larger images of the same varieties of flowers which had been used to decorate the ballroom. Arabesques were also fashionable, and in fact, it was a series of complex arabesque patterns which were chalked on the ballroom floor at Carlton House on the night of the grand fête. Mythological and fanciful motifs might also be seen, such as nymphs, mermaids, centaurs, satyrs, sea gods and/or classical heros. Heavenly bodies, such as the sun, the moon, stars, planets, comets and shooting stars were also popular motifs. For those who had the right to bear them, their coat of arms might be chalked on the ballroom floor. At one ball during the Regency, the guest of a gentleman who had had his coat of arms chalked on the ballroom floor that evening is reported to have quipped that his host was dancing on his arms as well as his legs. Floral patterns were most common for engagement or wedding balls, though if either the bride or the groom had a coat of arms, that might be chalked on the floor, often in the center, surrounded by flowers. If the bride and groom both came from families with coats of arms, the coat of arms of the bride might be quartered with those of her new husband in the design which was chalked on the floor for their celebratory ball. The dance floor was frequently chalked for masquerades, oftentimes with figures in keeping with the theme of the masquerade. There are suggestions that the more risqué masquerades had equally risqué drawings chalked on their floors for the titillation of the dancers.

This article, which is quite long and detailed, belongs on your list of wonderful information. The entire site belongs there. The author of the site is Kathryn Kane. Here’s her bio:

Historian with a particular interest the English Regency era. An avid reader of novels set in that time, holding strong opinions on the historical accuracy to be found in said novels.

Here are a few discoveries from around the web today.

First, two of the few remaining seventeenth century houses in London have been given Grade II listings. They’re on Denmark Street in Soho, and would first have been middle class dwellings, then in the Regency, part of the notorious St. Giles Rookery. Later in the nineteenth century, they became used for industry, metal working and shops. They retain a lot of their original features–look at this wonderful doorway:

7-denmark-st-p1110772exterior-6-7-denmark-st-p1110713And here’s a view from the street. Now, there’s an interesting factoid associated with the listing of these houses. Soho in the mid-twentieth century became associated with London’s musical life, (and other things too, such as the sex industry and good restaurants). In the mid 1970s an outbuilding of 6 Denmark Street was used as a recording studio by none other, wait for it, the Sex Pistols. Some of their graffiti still survive. And the buildings have been recognized in a year which coincides with the 40th anniversary of Punk. Yes, Punk is now an institution, recognized by none less than the British government.

For more about the houses and for a good timewaste, visit

Another wonderful site if you’re in a spending frame of mind is the British Library shop.

cakestandMany terrific, literary-themed goodies are here, including some truly gorgeous Alice in Wonderland items such as this cake stand. I have lustful dreams about this cake stand. Thank goodness I don’t bake and thank goodness it’s out of stock.

There are also some very lovely items  connected with the library’s 2013 Georgians Revealed Exhibit. And of course if you absolutely have to do some research, there’s all this stuff.

Now on to think locally if you’re in the Washington DC area. A couple of great events are coming up, both on the same day, April 2, but you have time in between to put your feet up and then stuff them into your dancing shoes.

First, JASNA-DC presents Lizzie + Darcy 4Ever: All About Jane Austen Fan Fiction, a panel discussion with some JAFF authors. It’s free, in Bethesda Library starting at 10:30 am. Details here.

Then in the evening, the Spring Ball at Dumbarton House takes place. The dances will be called with walk throughs and you don’t have to put on your Regency drag unless you want to/have some. Admission includes three glasses of wine (I can just hear Jane Austen asking, “Only three?”).

Found anything good online recently, or do you have plans for fun activities?

First of all–Winners!  Always a great way to start a Tuesday.

The winner of Helen Dickson’s The Housemaid’s Scandalous Secret is–RegencyGirl01!  Please send us your contact info at Riskies AT

And the winner of my ARC of Two Sinful Secrets is…Diane D–Florida!  Look in your email box for more info.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and reading!

This weekend, I went to a Civil War battle reenactment in Kansas.  I LOVE geeky things like that, especially when it’s a beautiful sunny day and lots of great people to talk to.  (I sat next to a kid who was about 10 or 11–he was wearing a full Confederate uniform, despite the mid-80s temps, and knew everything about the battle, so he was able to tell me all the strategic moves, the retreats and surges, all sorts of things).  There was also great shopping.

One of the things I bought was a little book called The Dancer’s Casket: Or the Ballroom Instructor: A New and Splendid Work on Dancing, Etiquette, Deportment, and the Toilet, originally published in 1858.  Besides detailing dance steps, it gives excellent advice like this (after telling us that with certain lively dances, like a quadrille, it’s best to dance with friends):

“…frequently…a gentleman must dance vis-a-vis to a lady with whom he is not at all acquainted, he must not expect the lady to treat him as a friend, with pleasant smiles or even with looks directed towards him; for the etiquette of society is somewhat too scrupulous to admit of this familiarity.  This prevailing etiquette is in direct opposition to the spirit of the dance, which is that of sociality and interchange of kind feelings.  Many persons, however, exhibit extreme lack of taste and ill manners in treating even friends with averted looks, assuming pompous airs and indifferent expression…”

I do hope that this blog gives a feeling of sociality and interchange of kind feelings!!! 

In the meantime, I am finishing writing one book and starting another, and making some progress on wedding plans, as well as practicing my quadrille.  What are you doing this week???

Posted in Giveaways, Research | Tagged | 1 Reply
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