Social Amusements In The Olden Time In New York: Early 1800s

 
 
  Article Tools

Print This Page

E-mail This Page To A Friend

The amusements of New York in by-gone days partook much more than at present of local gatherings, such as supper parties at the public gardens and "tea-houses," dancing parties, etc. Public exhibitions, such as might attract amusement seekers to an evening entertainment, were comparatively rare, although a house for theatrical performances was erected as early as 1751, and a regular company was for many subsequent years established in this city.

Itinerant performers of various sorts also traveled through the city, and erected temporary places for their exhibitions; but these failed to take the place of the social entertainments with which the descendants of the old Dutch stock delighted to pass away their festive hours, of which dancing parties were the leading feature. For a long time prior to the Revolution, the dances in vogue were mostly those introduced from English sources, with others of American production: and they were all of them of a lively character, involving swift motions of the feet, and aerial movements upon the toes; the "double shuffle" and "pigeon wing" being steps which marked the proficiency and grace of the performer.

It was not alone, however, by individual agility that these dances were characterized. The figures themselves were not, as in the present day, designed to present graceful evolutions, in which the ease of the dancers might be indulged; but, on the contrary, they were of such a nature as to require constant movement and vigorous action. From the diary of an old gentleman, who died many years since in this city, we extract his youthful memoranda of dancing figures then in vogue. The period relates back to about the commencement of the present century.

FAVORITE OF FANCY

Right hands across; left back again; down the middle; back again; cast off one couple; four hands round at bottom; right and left at top.

OPERA REEL

Cast off two couple; up again; lead down the middle; up again; cast off; four hands round at bottom; right and left at top.

INDEPENDENT RANGERS

Lead down the middle; up again and cast off; set cross corners; four hands round at bottom; right and left at top.

LA BELLE KATHRINE

First lady balance to the second gentleman, and turn him; first gentleman to the same with the second lady; lead down the middle; back again; cast off; right and left at top.

NEW JERSEY

First lady balance or perbass with the second gentleman, and turn him round in his place; first gentleman do the same with the second lady; lead down the middle and back again; cast off one couple; right and left at top.

MONEY MUSK

Turn your partner by the right hand quite round; cast off one couple; turn your partner with the right hand as before; gentleman falls in at bottom, his partner at top, and set three and three; turn with the left hand your partner, and fall into your places; six hands half round and back again; right and left at top.

THE BONNY LAD

Cast off outsides; back again; lead down through the middle; back again; set and turn corners with the upper couples; lead out at the side and foot it, and back to your places.

IRISH WASHERWOMAN

Right hands across half round; left hands across; back again; lead down the middle; up again; set hands half round and ack again; right and left at top.

THE MAID OF THE MILL

Right hands across; left back again; both half round; lead down the middle; up again; set cross corners; first your partner by the left and second by the right hand; right and left at top.

FISHERS' HORNPIPE

Cast off two couple outsides; up again; lead down the middle; back again; set cross corners; lead outsides and rigadoon; then back to your places (or cast off four hands round at bottom)); right and left at top.

THE YOUNG WIDOW

Right hands across half round; left hands and back again; lead down the middle and turn half round, then lead up and cast off one couple; set three and three sideways; six hands half round; the second and third couple set and half right and left in their places.

PRIEST OF THE PARISH, OR IN BOOTS

Lead down outsides; two couple up again; down the middle; up again; cast off; allemande; six hands round.

PADDY WHACK

Three ladies lead round three gentlemen to their places; three gentlemen three ladies the same; down the middle; back again; right and left at top.

THE SEA FLOWER

The first and second couple lead outsides the ladies by the hand inside; gentlemen out and chassee; down the middle; back again and cast off outsides one couple; four hands round at bottom; right and left at top.

RICKET'S HORNPIPE

Lead outsides and rigadoon; back to your places; down the middle; back again; cast off one couple and four hands round at bottom; right and left at top.

THE MINOR ASSEMBLY

First and second lady lead the first and second gentlemen, who chassee in the ladies' places, and back to their own; down the middle; back again; set cross corners, first with the right and second with the left hand; right and left at top

LUCKY RETREAT

Scotch dance- First and second lady chassee across between the first and second gentlemen, who do the same, and return to their places respectively; down the middle; back again; cast off one couple and turn your partner by the right hand, and take hold of the third lady's left hand with your left; turn third lady and take hold of partner's hand with your right and turn her, and take hold of second lady's left hand and turn her in her place; both come to your places.

COUNTRY FROLIC

First couple cross over between second and third couples and return; so between third and fourth, and lead up through the middle to their places; cast off one couple and turn second and third couples half round and back again; set three and three sideways, and six hands half round; second and third couple set to each other, and half right and left.

BATTLE OF CULLODEN

Cast off outsides two couple; back again and fall in below two couple; right hands and turn partly round, the lady falling in at top, the gentleman below; set three and three; left hands and turn to your places; turn second and third couples, the ladies the gentlemen, the gentlemen the ladies; lead outsides and rigadoon, then back to your places.

APOLLO TURNED SHEPHERD

First and second lady chassee outside; gentlemen the same; first and second lady chassee in the gentlemen's places inside; the gentlemen in the ladies' outside and turn contrary, wise, and then to their places; down the middle; back again; cast off one couple; right and left at top.

CROPPIE LIE DOWN

First and second ladies chassee between first and second gentlemen; the gentlemen the same outside; down the middle; back again; cast off one couple; six hands half round and back again

MRS. CHARTER'S REEL

Right hands across; half round left; back again; down the middle; back again; swing corners and rigadoon, leading outsides

THE STRANGER

First and second lady balance to first and second gentlemen and turn half round; the same and quite round; down the middle; back again, and cast off; right and left at top.

HOB OR NOB

First lady cast off outsides two couple, and pass into the centre; so up and turn her partner once round in his place; one gentleman, so the same; down the middle; back again; right and left at top.

COUNTRY HORNPIPE

First and third couples balance; one couple cast off; third couple lead up the middle; third cast off; first lead up in their places; lead down the middle; back again; cast off; right and left.

THE FORESTERS

First lady set to second gentleman, and turn third gentleman half round, falling in between second and third gentlemen; the gentlemen the same with the ladies; both three hands half round, and back again; the lady chassees to the right down the set, gentlemen to the left up the set.

LOCH ERIC SIDE

First and second couples balance to opposite couples, and four hands half round; the same back gain; down the middle; back again; cast off one couple; right and left at top.

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Social Amusements In The Olden Time In New York: Early 1800s
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: From My collection of books: Manual Of The Corporation of the City of New York; Joseph Shannon, 1869
Time & Date Stamp: