"they took me to the Rooms last night but for the novelty of the thing, I should have thought it very stupid. I saw a good many faces that I had met before, among the rest Mrs Smith and one of the Miss Scots, who is turned into a Mrs Mc Somebody, to the great delight of her Mama, my three Aunts, played cards, & were successful the little one brought home her Louis D'Or, Jassum [sic] you, I was very much amused looking over the Table of Cassino [a card game of the type known as fishing], at which Aunt Fan played, and observing the faces & vexation of the losing party. We came home at ten O'clock - tomorrow I am to go to the undress Ball."
The ball Elizabeth attended at the Lower Rooms was the first of the new Fancy Balls an innovation designed to combat the decline in attendances at the Cotillion Balls of the previous decade and an increasing resistance to the rigid dress codes. Fancy Balls were, in Georgian terms, much more relaxed occasions Ladies could appear in hats or make any other elegant fashion statement they pleased, short of actual fancy dress costumes. Fancy balls started with a country dance, after which there was one Cotillion only, and then tea – after tea, a country dance, one Cotillion only and the evening ended with more country dances, and the Long Minuet famously illustrated by Henry Bunbury.
The term undress ball is a nickname given by the company to the new Fancy Balls and is a joking allusion to their not being Dress Balls.
|The Fancy Ball at the Upper Rooms |