Friday, May 16, 2014


On this day in 1812 the waltz was introduced at Almack's dance hall in London. It was the first closed-couple dance the English aristocracy had ever seen. Men and women embraced one another as they were dancing, and the men lifted the women over their thighs as the couples turned. Critics called it "disgusting."  
       (so said The Writer’s Almanac of 5/11/13)
Detail from frontispiece to Thomas Wilson's Correct Method of German and French
Waltzing (1816), showing nine positions of the Waltz, ----- This is from Wikipedia
Can you just imagine that? The waltz: disgusting? As with most notions we have, they eventually change. After it was introduced, the unmarried young ladies of London’s ton had to have explicit permission to dance the waltz. And if in one evening you danced three waltzes with one man you were ruined, ruined I tell you! Next step: obtain a special license and be married as soon as possible to the rogue who was crass enough, or desperate enough, to lead you into temptation. Today the waltz is a delight, though you rarely see or hear one except for the PBS broadcast of the New Year’s Day concert from The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Invitation to the Waltz, by Francesco Miralles Galaup

My husband calls the waltz – especially a Strauss waltz, and especially The Blue Danube -  the most ‘civilized’ music on earth. He and our son are incorrigible: they hear a waltz and they “da di, da di, da dah di di” away, swaying and smiling from ear to ear. The waltz CD’s are wearing out.

Are you old enough to remember Arthur and Kathryn Murray on TV, twirling away to their signature waltz? Are you old enough to remember after-school dancing classes? In my high school years the school district provided after-school dance classes where I learned to fox trot, lindy, cha-cha, rhumba, and, of course, to waltz. Wallflowers were discouraged. To this day I love to dance.

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