Having a ball! 200年前的人如何派對

更新時間 2013年 8月 19日, 星期一 - 格林尼治標準時間14:07
Enactment of a 19th century ball

Balls were opportunities to find a future husband.

Vocabulary: party 詞匯: 派對,舞會

Are you a good dancer? We all know it's awkward not to be aware of the latest cool moves, but 200 years ago this could have meant social disaster!

A fictional ball from Jane Austin's 1813 novel "Pride and Prejudice" was recreated for a BBC programme. It showed the importance of dance for courtship.

At a time when physical contact was restricted and a chaperone was the order of the day in polite society, an invitation for a dance was one of the few opportunities for people to flirt with potential partners.

Amanda Vickery, professor of modern history at Queen Mary, University of London, says: "The ability to dance was key to romantic success. Clumsiness was sexual suicide."

Women with a bad memory could buy a fan which had the music and dance steps listed on the back. Men were more exposed on the dance floor.

But gentlemen of the Regency period were helped by fashion. Tailored jackets and trousers held up by braces forced them to walk upright and made them look elegant.

Ladies' dresses were handmade. The popular fabric of the time was muslin and there were rumours that women would have wet the fabric so that the outline of their figure could be seen beneath the dress.

Men and women would have arrived in their boots but these were a no-no on the dance floor. Everyone carried their dancing shoes, which looked like ballet shoes.

Hungry partygoers wouldn't be disappointed with the catering at a 19th century ball. They would replenish the energy lost from all that dancing with dishes like partridge pie and cheese ice cream.

The meal was an opportunity for the host to show his wealth and so was the lighting. Wax candles were very expensive 200 years ago. But they were really useful for a tired and sleepy host keen to see the last guest out. The size of the sticks determined the party's duration: 4 hours or 6 hours. As soon as the flames died out, he could just shut the door behind him and go out like a light.

Quiz 測驗

1. Why were balls important occasions for single people?

Because there they could dance and flirt with potential partners.

2. Why were men who didn't know the dance more exposed than women?

Because women could buy a fan with the dance steps listed on the back.

3. What was not a good thing to wear on the dance floor?


4. How could people know how long the party would last?

By the size of the candles.

5. Which expression means something that shouldn't be done?

A no-no.

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