One of our staffers is filling out dance cards—trying to figure out how to dance with several young women on the same night. Can he do it? Of course!
These young ladies have their dance cards filled out. Hooray!
What are dance cards? Simply put, they're a way for women to keep track of all the people with whom they plan to dance! When dance cards were popular in the 19th century (especially in Vienna), they were not actual cards—more like small booklets in fancy cases, containing listings of the songs and composers of the evening, as well as blank spaces to record names of all the gentleman suitors! These dance cards made beautiful souvenirs, as you can imagine, but most importantly, they helped young women remember who their partners were for any of 10-20 waltzes of the ball.
Dance cards of the past could be quite fancy; before World War I, the dance card cases might be covered with precious metals and jewels. Americans were using dance cards by the 1900s, but theirs tended to be more humble paper booklets.
And what about the dance cards that we use? We use a simple booklet, printed in black and white, with room to write down names of future dance partners. Our students end up dancing with over 20 different people at our Spring Formals, giving them a chance to meet a wide range of people. And they still make great souvenirs!