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An 1869 Dance Card
New Year's Eve Ball, Chagrin Falls, Ohio - December 31, 1869

[1869 Dance Card]

This card is a simple bifold, measuring 5" by 3 1/2" when open. It is printed in black and gold ink. The occasion is a New Year's Eve Dance at a local hotel - the Irving House. This dance was public and not private; tickets cost $3.00, and it is not clear whether this is per person or couple. Often dance cards were mailed out and served as tickets of admission to public dances. The music in this case was provided by a group called Miller's Band. Local brass bands were common throughout the midwest in this period. The back cover contains a delightfully awkward verse written especially for this event:

Meeting with friends so happy and gay,
The Old Year passes swiftly away;
The New Year comes in brilliant array,
And with joy we greet the new born day.

At the Irving House Miller's Band will appear,
Whose music always pleases the fastidious ear;
While Farr does the calling so loud and so clear,
Though far distant, you cannot fail to hear.
We cordially invite your company here,
Wishing you all a happy New Year.

[1869 Dance card inside]

T he programme inside lists 28 dances; of these 12 are quadrilles, including the Lanciers which remained popular through the end of the 19th century. Most of the other dances listed are set dances also and attest to the overwhelming popularity of group dances in this period; the Spanish Dance (three times), Monnie Musk (twice), the Virginia Reel (twice), the French Four, Pop, Goes the Weasel, the Scotch Reel, the Opera Reel and the Tempest. All these dances are typical of the mid-nineteenth century and descriptions of them can be found in any dance book from the period. (For a description of the Spanish Dance and the Virginia Reel, see MIXED PICKLES' Vintage Dance Timeline - The 19th Century.)

Vintage Dance Cards