Dancing was an important feature of Edwardian society and so it was imperative for a well-bred young lady to know the latest dances as well as the more traditional ones. I really loved researching this part of Vicky’s story (although I doubt she would agree with me, not being a fan of dancing herself!). Although I don’t do a lot of research online, I found a wealth of information through some very good websites. One in particular called Capering & Kickery. The Library of Congress also has many videos of historic dances that you can peruse online.
The popular new dances during the Edwardian era were short sequence dances (where a pattern of steps repeat) created for Ragtime songs. The dances included the cake walk, turkey trot, and the Castle Walk. The waltz had also become very popular in England, and in January 1909 the Telegraph wrote an article touting the dance’s virtues. At King Edward’s State Ball on July 10th 1909 the dance list included the waltz, quadrilles, polka, galops, mazurka, polonaise, schottische, two-step, and waltz-minuet.
I needed to chose a traditional dance that Vicky would dread doing. I went through several Library of Congress videos until I found the quadrille, a cringe-worthy dance that would terrify our heroine. I’ll let her explain it:
The quadrille struck fear into my heart more than any other because I could not blag my way through the steps by skipping and hopping as I could in the waltz and the polka. The quadrille was done by a group of four couples that made patterns within a set space upon the floor. If one went wrong, then the whole pattern collapsed. Worst of all, a dancer going wrong would be stranded in the middle of the figure, looking daft as her fellows cavorted around her and her forsaken partner continued on alone, arms in hold as if escorting a ghost dancer around the floor, for one never stopped in the middle of a dance if one could help it.
I just knew I would make a fool of myself at the ball. I knew I’d be the one to go right when I was meant to go left, bumping into the other dancers. And then poor Edmund would be lumbered with me, dragging me around the dance floor as if I were a sack of coal someone had handed him to dance with as a jest.
And here it is: