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Monday, July 5, 2010

Regency Balls, a vital part of courtship

Anyone who’s read Regency-set novels may have at one point asked the question: “Why does practically every Regency novel contain a ball?”

There’s a very good answer to that question and it isn’t because authors have no imagination. It’s because balls and dancing were a vital part of social life and courtship. Children at a very young age were taught to dance, even young boys who joined the army or navy.

Where were these balls held?

A public ’subscription’ ball, was held anyplace with an assembly room. Guests were admitted only if they possessed a purchased ticket. High ticket prices might keep out the lowest class, but didn’t stop the rich in trade from attending. (Horrors!) Subscription balls were held just about anywhere–the main room of an inn, a large clearing outside, or a rented public house.

Almack’s is an example of a public assembly but the matrons were very particular about who received a voucher to attend. No one was admitted into Almack’s without a voucher.

Gentlemen had to be considered eligible, but the “weeding out” process wasn’t so strict for the gentlemen as it was for the ladies. For a young lady to receive a voucher, one of the patronesses of Almack’s had to approve of her background and character before she was given a coveted voucher.

This picture is of a ballroom in Bath, where Catherine in Northanger Abby meets a dashing stranger who cleverly arranges an introduction.

A private ball was another matter. Most of the great houses had either a ballroom or a large drawing room. People were allowed to attend by invitation only. In Pride and Prejudice, the local matrons convinced Mr. Bingley to host the event and invite all the ‘good’ families because Netherfield house had a ballroom. Throwing a ball took a great deal of money; servants, candles, food and drink all cost a goodly amount, so only someone well off could afford it. Of course, since most Regency romance novels are about the beau monde, a ball is treated as common-place.

In my newest Regency, The Guise of a Gentleman, Elise is shocked to find that the seemingly common man who accosted her only days ago, is now present at a ball hosted by her good friend. Normally, only the very best ton would be present. What was he doing in such an elite gathering?

And most pressing of all, would he ruin her reputation and tell everyone he’d kissed her at their previous encounter?

The Guise of a Gentleman, available at Amazon, and The Wild Rose Press in both paperback and e-book.

Or, you can win a free copy (and you have four chances if you do all four):

1. Leave a comment in this blog, then send me an email at and put “free book” in the subject line

2. Follow my blog, then send me an email at, telling me you’re now following me and put “free book” in the subject line

3. Friend me on Facebook, then send me an email at, telling me you’re now my friend on Face book and put “free book” in the subject line

4. go to my website and then find out what is the name of the hero, then send me an email, telling me the answer to the question and put “free book” in the subject line

Remember, for each thing you do, you have another chance to win. Good Luck!!!


catslady said...

I think today's society has lost out when it comes to dancing. Now it seems to be mostly for the young. Although I don't agree with the cast system they had in those days lol.

I love regencies and your book sounds exciting!

Nik said...

I want one!

My Eclectic Reads said...

The structure to the ball seems to have disolved over time, hasn't it? No real organized dancing. Even proms, one of the few occasions to dress up to dance, consist of teenagers mulling around.

After the 1950's everything appears to have relaxed!

Oregon Kimm

Soft Fuzzy Sweater said...

I am a newbie to the Regency genre. Since I love Austen I'm sure I will love other Regencies But I do like a little passion.

Terri C. said...

You're book sounds really interesting and I'd love to read it.

Thank you,
comethespring at gmail dot com