Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history in four posts during the event. Her second contribution is on dancing at the Netherfield Ball covering the etiquette and the popular dances of the day. Enjoy!
“So, he enquired who she was, and got introduced, and asked her for the two next. Then, the two third he danced with Miss King, and the two fourth with Maria Lucas, and the two fifth with Jane again, and the two sixth with Lizzy, and the Boulanger …” Mrs. Bennet about Mr. Bingley at The Netherfield Ball.
The English ballroom and assembly room was the courting field upon which gentlemen and ladies on the marriage mart could finally touch one another and spend some time conversing during their long sets or ogle each other without seeming to be too forward or brash. Dancing was such an important social event during the Georgian and Regency eras that girls and boys practiced complicated dance steps with dancing masters and memorized the rules of ballroom etiquette.
Balls were regarded as social experiences, and gentlemen were tasked to dance with as many ladies as they could. This is one reason why Mr. Darcy’s behavior was considered rude at the Meryton Ball- there were several ladies, as Elizabeth pointed out to him and Colonel Fitzwilliam at Rosings, who had to sit out the dance.
“He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner.”
Mr. Bingley, on the other hand, danced every dance and thus behaved as a gentleman should.
Ladies had to wait passively for a partner to approach them and when they were, they were then obliged to accept the invitation. One reason why Elizabeth was so vexed when Mr. Collins, who had solicited her for the first two dances at the Netherfield Ball, was that she’d intended to reserve them for Mr. Wickham. Had she refused Mr. Collins, she would have been considered not only rude, but she would have forced to sit out the dances for the rest of the evening.
Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World
- Dressing for the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice
- Group reading schedule
- Pride and Prejudice: Reading Resources
- Pride and Prejudice without Zombies Event Schedule
Upcoming event posts
Day 10 June 30 Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35
Day 11 July 02 Carriages in Pride and Prejudice
Day 12 July 03 Group Read: Chapters 36 – 42