Waltzing in the Victorian Era


My favorite historical romance movies tend to have dancing scenes in them… so when I wrote Duke of a Gilded Age, I made sure to put plenty of dancing in it.  The year is 1890, and when the old Duke of Mansbury passes away, Belle accompanies her attorney father to American to retrieve Mansbury’s heir, Brooklyn-born Wesley Parker. On the Transatlantic voyage back to England, Belle, Wesley and some of the young American “aristocracy” form a dance club to practice the waltz.

Detail from frontispiece to Thomas Wilson’s Correct Method of German and French Waltzing (1816). Image courtesy Wikipedia.

As a dance, the waltz had a somewhat scandalous reputation in early 19th century England, due to the fact it required the gentleman to put his hand around the lady’s waist. Nevertheless, as the years marched on (in 3/4 time?), the waltz became increasingly accepted–probably because ladies knew it showed them to their best advantage!

Below is a lovely video showcasing the Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss, written in 1889, as performed on the piano. (It’s the same piece performed by Stacy Egermann during the first dance club meeting on board the SS City of New York.)  Enjoy! ~ S.G. Rogers

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