The etiquette of dancing
AT a public ball, if a gentleman, without a proper introduction, asks a lady to dance, she should positively refuse. When a gentleman, having been properly introduced, requests the honor of dancing with a lady, she should not refuse without explaining her reason for so doing.
If a lady refuse to dance with you, bear the refusal with becoming grace; and if you perceive her afterwards dancing with another, seem not to notice it, for in these matters ladies are exempt from all explanations.
Be mild in your deportment, leading your partner gently through the dance, and simply taking, not rudely grasping, her hand.
If you cannot waltz gracefully, do not attempt to waltz at all. In this dance the gentleman is more conspicuous than in any other. In waltzing, a gentleman should exercise the utmost delicacy in touching the waist of his partner.
While dancing, a lady should consider herself engaged to her partner, and therefore not at liberty to hold a flirtation, between the figures, with another gentleman.
Good breeding has been very justly defined to be the result of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them.
The most obvious mark of good breeding and good taste is a regard for the feelings of our companions. True courtesy is founded on generosity, which studies to promote the happiness and comfort of others. It is more winning than grace or beauty, and creates sentiments of love at first sight.
Excerpts from ``A Complete Guide to the Art of Dancing,'' by Thomas Hillgrove, 1863.