We all know that the Regency era had a strict fashion code. In fact, I make sure to constantly mention it because it was of the utmost importance back then!
You know the typical stuff, like having to wear a puffy dress and walk around in it all time, not being allowed to have your hair down, always having to look a certain way. Annoying, but understandable I guess.
We can say with certainty that dances were one of the only, appropriate, ways to escape from the social rooms and be able to stay “close” with the opposite gender. It was one of the moments that men and women were in fact allowed and even encouraged to have physical contact.
But did you know there were dancing classes back then? Of course, not exactly like ours, but dancing classes nonetheless.
One thing that surprised me is that those dancing classes/rooms had strict rules of fashion for both men and women. There is actually a record of a Duke being refused entry, just because he wore trousers, which sounds unreal to me!
So let’s start with the English Country Dance which has deep roots in Scottish Country Dancing. In fact, English Country dancing goes back to the 16th century and was especially popular among the commoners, but not so much the nobles.
These dances “traveled” all the way to France. The rules differed from the French way of dancing, which was the woman dancing to the right of her partner.
We also have the Quadrille. It was formally accepted in English society in 1815 and it was quite flirty in comparison to others.
And finally, we have the Waltz. The Waltz was first introduced by Baron Neuman on 1812, and it was actually considered a bit provocative because of the amount of physical contact it required. How scandalous! But probably a breath of fresh air back then for them 🙂
So, here’s the thing now. The Regency era is quite an odd time. There are 2 popular opinions regarding when it started and when it finished, and both of them vary a lot! This means that I’m unsure if I should include certain dances that came after that time.
The most popular opinion is that the Regency era lasted from 1811 until 1820. But it’s also considered to be from 1795 until 1837. Both of these hold significance and they matter quite a lot.
And in between those dates, we have numerous more dances, which I will analyze in more detail in a later article.
For now, why don’t you read this interesting piece of writing on the Cotillions? Back in 1780, James Fishar wrote very specific instructions for it. You can read everything about it here: https://colinhume.com/deregency.htm
This covers everything you needed to know! I so don’t wish I lived back then 😛 I’m horrible at dancing and I’m certain I would fail miserably!
What about you, sweetie?
-Written by Scarlett Osborne