Must of course be provided for the guests during the evening; and, as nothing should be handed round, a refreshment-room is absolutely necessary.
Provide in the refreshment-room, tea and coffee, ices, biscuits, cakes, cracker-bonbons, cold tongues, sandwiches, etc., etc.
If a regular supper is served it should be laid in a separate room. What it should comprise, must depend entirely on the taste and resources of those who give the party. To order it in from a confectioner is the simplest plan, but it is apt to prove somewhat expensive. If provided at home, let it be done on a liberal, but not vulgarly profuse, scale. Substantial fare, such as fowls, ham, tongue, etc., are absolutely necessary. Jellies, blanc-mange, trifle, tipsy cake, etc., may be added at discretion.
Nothing upon the table should require carving; the fowls should be cut up beforehand, and held together by ribbons, which only require severing.
Whatever can be iced should be served in that way.
Beadle's dime ball-room companion and guide to dancing, 1868
We come at last to what some people of bad taste think the most important part, the eating and drinking. As a first rule, it may be laid down that nothing should be handed in a ball. A refreshment-room is,- therefore, indispensable. The ladies are to be first considered in this matter. The refreshments may be simple, comprising tea, lemonade, that detestable concoction called negus, iced sherbet, ices, wafers, cakes, and bonbons. In French parties they give you, towards the end of the evening, hot chocolate, and this is coming into fashion in England, and is certainly very refreshing. In the south of Germany a lady asks you to fetch her a glass of beer; in Munich, this is customary even in the court circles. There is a terrible prejudice against beer in England, but it is perhaps the best thing to drink after dancing. Fancy our pretty Misses quaffing their pint of Bass! Yet why not? In Germany and France, and now, too, in England, the favorite bonbon is a chestnut or slip of orange in a coat of candied sugar. I remember well at Munich a trick that was played on an old geheim-rath, who was known to have a violent passion for oranges fflaa es, "and suspected of carrying them away in his pockets in large quantities. A number of young officers managed to stuff his coat-pockets with these bonbons without his discovering it, and then one of them, assuming great interest in the old gentleman, induced him to sit down for a little chat. When he got up again there was a stream of orange juice issuing from each coat-tail, and the old man pottered about quite unconscious of the amusement he excited.
The supper, of course, has a separate room, which must be well lit. Of its contents, as I am not a confectioner, I can say nothing. Two things I can say : Ice everything (in a London season) that can be conveniently iced, and let there be nothing that requires carving. The fowls and birds should, therefore, all be cut up. The supper hour in London is generally midnight, after which it goes on till the end of the ball. In England, it is usually served with much expense and display on a table, round which all the dancers stand ; but in France, even at the Tuileries, it is arranged on long buffets, as in our public balls, the servants standing behind, and thus saving a vast deal of pushing about, and much trouble to the gentlemen.
Another importation from France, is the custom of giving hot soup at supper, and a very good one it is. In fact, hot things are still to be desired for supper, and always will be acceptable. At a ball no one sits down to supper; at a small dance the ladies sit and the gentleman stand behind them. A lady should never drink more than one glass of champagne, nor a man more than two. There is a modern custom which saves the pockets of ball-givers, and is most grateful to dancers, that of giving the men bottled beer. No man of sense will drink bad gooseberry when he can get good Bass. The latter refreshes more, and intoxicates less ; but until we become sensible on this point, champagne will remain as indispensable an element of the ball-supper as trifle, tipsy-cake, and mayonnaise; which last, if made with fish, is the best dish you can eat at this meal.
If you are dancing with a young lady when the supper-room is opened, you must ask her if she would like to go to supper, and if she says "yes," which, in 999 cases out of 1000, she certainly will do, you must take her thither. If you are not dancing the lady of the house will probably recruit you to take in some chaperon. How ever little you may relish this, you must not show your disgust. In fact, no man ought to be disgusted at being able to do anything for a lady; it should be his highest privilege, but it is not in these modern unchivalrous days, perhaps never was so. Having placed your partner then at the supper-table, if there is room there, but if not at a side-table, or even at none, you must be as active as Puck in attending to her wants, and as women take as long to settle their fancies in edibles as in love-matters, you had better at once get her something substantial, chicken, pale defoiegras, mayonnaise, or what you will. Afterwards some jelly and trifle in due course. A young lady often goes down half-a-dozen times to the supper-room, it is to be hoped not for the purpose of eating but she should not do so with the same partner more than once. While the lady is supping you must stand by and talk to her, attending to every want, and the most you may take yourself is a glass of champagne when you help her. You then lead her up stairs again, and if you are not wanted there any more, you may steal down and do a little quiet refreshment on your own account. As long, however, as there are many ladies still at the table, you have no right to begin. Nothing marks a man here so much as gorging at supper. Balls are meant for dancing, not eating, and unfortunately too many young men forget this in the present day. Lastly, be careful what you say and how you dance after supper, even more so than before it, for if you in the slightest way displease a young lady, she may fancy that you have been too partial to strong fluids, and ladies never forgive that. It would be hard on the lady of the house if everybody leaving a large ball thought it necessary to wish her good-night. In quitting a small dance, however, a parting bow is expected. It is then that the pretty daughter of the house gives you that sweet smile of which you dream afterwards in a gooseberry nightmare of "tum-tum-tiddy-tum," and waltzes a'deux temps, and masses of tarlatane and bright eyes, flushed cheeks and dewy glances. See them to-morrow, my dear fellow, it will cure you.
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|Ladies Toilette||Gentlemen Guide||Refreshments|
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