Dance cards and fashion etiquette

Museu da Moda Brasileira

Dance cards and other accessories in the customs of 20th century society.

Card in the shape of a lyre, with gold embellishments. On the middle pages, a dance program of eighteen dances, consisting of five waltzes, six polkas, five quadrilles, one schottische, and one mazurka.

The balls and their rituals
Balls were one of the main social events during the Victorian era (1837–1901) and dance cards — printed, folded cards or booklets decorated with various designs and materials — were essential accessories for high-society ladies.

On the card, next to the name of the dance and the music planned for the evening, a lady or gentleman noted the name of each partner with whom they would dance. Beside the card, there was always a pencil hanging by a cord or ribbon, which also enabled the card to be hung on the wrist.

Arsenio de Niemeyer's birthday ball dance card
1893

Fan-shaped card, trimmed edges, light background, with two bluish gray stripes. In the front, description of the program with sixteen dances, being: 5 gangs, 5 polkas, 5 waltzes and the inscription: "Ordre de Danse" in gold. In the center, the date. It has female names written by pencil: E. Bello, Elizena B. Franco and Chiquita Saldanha. On the verse, handwritten: "Arsenio de Niemeyer' Birthday". Metal hook fastens the white pencil with inscription "Carvalhaes & CO" and the cream cord to the carnet.

Proclamation of the Republic's commemorative ball dance card
1901

Card on light background with serrated edges. Cover with five birds in relief, four yellow and one pink. Back cover with arms of the Republic of Brazil. Inside, "Dance commemorating the proclamation of the Republic on 15 November 1901. Brazilian Military School. Inside, blue decoration, inscription: "Directors of Salon: Arnulpho Sarmento and Octavio Sarmento". On the central pages, the program with twelve dances, being: 7 waltzes, 3 gangs and 2 schottischs; Female names in pencil: Marianna da Silva, Maria Garcia, Maria Carneiro, F. Marianna de Campos, Zulmira da Veiga and Cora Jatahy. Blue pencil "Johann Faber", attached to the brown cord.

The materials used to make the cards were directly linked to a family's economic status and the owner's marital status, providing suitors with information about their desired partner.

Golden, oval makeup case. Inside, mirror and compartment with lid and sponge for rice powder.

It should be noted that the card ensured that no-one returned home from the ball without having danced at least once. Exceptions were "aias" (the personal maids of high-society ladies), older women, and widows.

These cards were often part of an accessory set that also included a diary, purse, and prayer book.

Itamaraty Palace's ball dance card
1908

Card with cover featuring a double row of green leaves and red flowers. Printed with the words "Itamaraty Palace/Dances" in the center. Back cover depicting a woman's face between two flowers. "National Press - 1907" printed below.

Tortoise hair clip
XX Century

Dark beige tortoiseshell platter, slightly domed, the top inlaid with stones arranged in floral motifs.

Fiscal Island Ball dance card
1889
Homage to Chile at Ilha Fiscal (Last Imperial Ball, RJ)

Cover in white, with the border corners in gold and a golden violin with ribbon and flowers. Written in ink, at the top of the cover: "Fiscal Island 11-9-89". Back cover: white, with the corners of the border in gold and written obliquely: "Tribute to Chile". On the central pages, on the center and above, the word: "Programma", underneath the name of the sixteen dances, being: 4 gangs, 5 waltzes, 3 polkas, 2 lancers, 1 mazurca and 1 gallop; Female names written by pencil: Adelaide W, Mlle Braga, Mlle Massot, Mlle Ferreira Santos (2) and Adelia Chaves.

Dance at the Nictheroy International Club
1906

Card on light background with trimmed edges. Cover bringing to the center a green four-leaf clover in relief surrounded by four smaller clovers, with the portrait of a man. Printed on black the location of the ball and the date. On the central pages, printed in blue: "Soirée Blanche's program dedicated to its Director, Colonel A. Romão de Castro"; Program with twenty dances, being: 11 waltzes, 4 polkas, 4 schottisch and 1 quadrilha (country dance); Female names written by pencil: Antonieta, Arminda, Leonor da Cunha, Leonor, Melle Lorena, Esther and Melle Barboza. Below, in the center, printed: "Stationery Store A. D. Silvo, 35 Ouvidor Street".

Gold cufflinks
XX Century

Pair of golden, oval-shaped, gold-plated cufflinks with flower design and enamel leaves in blue, red, blue and green. Belonged to maestro Henrique Oswald.

Dance Card
1905

CCard on light background. On the cover, at the top, greek-themed decoration with dark blue band and golden friezes, having four women in pink in dancing positions. In the center, in gold, the word "Dance". On the back cover: printed in gold: "E. BEVILACQUA 151 Ouvidor Street, office: 35 Chile Street, Rio de Janeiro". First page, printed "Homage to Mr. Dr. J.J. Seabra" and the date; Second, portrait of J. J. Seabra wrapped by floral motifs and the date of the ball; Third, printed in black: "DIRECTORS OF THE BALL C. LEITE, J. P. DE SOUZA DANTAS and A. F. GONÇALVES TORRES"; On the fourth and fifth, at the top, blue frieze with decoration of Greek women dancing. Program with eighteen dances, being: 10 waltzes, 3 gangs, 3 polkas and 2 schottisch; (Two times), Mariana, Mme Porto, Maria L ..., Olga de Sabóia Porto, Mme Santos, Senorita, Esther and two illegible names. Yellow pencil with inscription "Johann Faber" attached to the card with cream cord.

Portuguese Gymnastic Club's 48th anniversary's ball dance card
1916

On the central pages, the program that has decoration of blue friezes, with twenty-one dances, being: 4 waltzes, 6 one steps, 5 polkas, 4 tangos and 2 ragtimes.

Riachuelo Battleship's ball dance card
1896

Cover: bouquets of flowers in pink, band with white flowers, with inscription: "Battleship Riachuelo Matinée" and the date. Serrated edges. On the central pages, the program has twenty dances, being: 5 waltzes, 4 polkas, 2 gangs, 4 schottischs, 2 mazurcas, 2 lancers and 1 gallop; Female names written by pencil: Stella, Dalila, Antonietta. Twelve unreadable names. "Casa Guimarães e Ferdinando" printed on the lower left corner. Brown pencil with inscription "Johann Faber", attached to the card with cream cord.

M. Schiek and Mme. Lucilla Masset' wedding dance card
1896

Carnet on light background. Cover: on the upper right corner, four birds in high relief perched on a branch, with the top of one of the birds missing. On the center the initials "HL", in sepia color, interlaced; Having below the date "4 January 1896". On the central pages, program with twenty dances, being: 2 gangs, 7 waltzes, 4 schotisch, 4 polkas, 2 lancers and 1 gallop, being only one dance filled with a female name: Alice. On the right, branches and birds printed in brown color. In the upper right corner, handwritten by pencil: "Marriage of M.Schiek with Mlle. Lucilla Masset." Yellow card and loose pencil attached.

Credits: Story

House of the Marquise of Santos/Museum of Brazilian Fashion
Patricia Castro

Anita Mantuano Arts Foundation of Rio de Janeiro State/ Rio de Janeiro State Department of Culture</>
André Lazaroni

Museum Superintendent
Raphael Hallack Fabrino

Curatorship
Clara Paulino
Patricia Castro
Thais Pucu
Ingrid Fiorante

Composition
Clara Paulino
Laura Ghelman

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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