the Pipe and Tabor compendium

the Pipe and Tabor compendium

essays on the three-hole pipe

USA Regency Dancing

The Dancing Frolic, 1804

an extract from: Boston Weekly Magazine, II [1803-1804], 6-7

"At a distance from Boston, about 100 miles, on a late returning journey, I was solicited by a much respected friend, to attend a "dancing frolic," that happened on the evening of my arrival. Having been accustomed to the like agreeable and rational amusement, I readily consented, but previous to being admitted, some rules must be subscribed to, which from their singularity, a copy was obtained and is handed you for publication. ....


1. Admittance 50 cents, refreshments included.
2. The music to consist of a fiddle, a pipe and tabor, and a hurdy-gurdy. N.B. No chorus to be sung until dancing is over.
3. No lady to dance in black stockings, nor must she have her elbows bare.
4. To prevent spitting, no gentleman to chew tobacco nor smoak.
5. Every lady to come with a clean linen handkerchief, with her name marked upon it.
6. No gentleman to dance in a great coat, unless his under one be torn.
7. No lady to dress her hair with tallow candle, nor must she have a bunch of hair sticking up, top of her head.
8. Leather small clothes, except newly washed, are forbidden, as they might soil the ladies' gowns, and to prevent tearing the planking, no lady or gentleman to dance in nail'd shoes or boots.
9. Cards to be allowed - noone to wet their fingers more than twice.
10. Whatever money is played for, shall be put under the candlestick.
11. Whoever in his or her eagerness at cards breaks the table, shall pay for it immediately.
12. No whispering to be allowed. If any one shall be found to make invidious remarks about any one's dancing, he or she shall be put out of the room.
13. No scissors or gimblets are to be brought by lady or gentleman, except their pockets be whole.
14. No gentleman to appear with a cravat that has been worn more than a week or fortnight.
15. Long beards are forbidden, as it would be very disagreeable, if a gentleman should happen to put his cheek beside a lady's.
16. Those ladies who have not white cotton stockings and black morocco shoes, will not be admitted under any pretense whatever. Two old ladies will be provided to examine all who enter.
17. No lady must appear with a veil on, even if it be turned aside, as the gentlemen will not have an opportunity of looking at their faces-distinct.
18. No gentleman must appear with shoes - each must have boots, that will creak famously.
19. No gentleman must squeeze his partner's hand, nor look earnestly upon her; and further, he must not even pick up her handkerchief, provided it were to fall. The first denotes he loves her; the second, he wishes to kiss her, and the last, that she makes the sign for both.
20. For distinction's sake, the master of ceremonies is to wear a red coat, buff small clothes, black stockings, green shoes, and a surtout. The word of command is: "Tumble up ladies."


Dancing Frolic, 1804 , C. Grant Loomis
Source: Western Folklore, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Jul., 1963), pp. 196-197
Published by: Western States Folklore Society
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