Gentlemen, Welcome to the Ballroom: Rules for Men in Regency England
You may think that it was only the ladies who had a strict code of etiquette to abide by in the early 1800s, with possibilities of being “ruined” at every turn. However, men also had a list of social rules to adhere to. Take attending a ball, for example, which seems simple enough. All any rogue or rake had to do was show up, dance with a lady or two, and maybe steal a kiss, right?
Not so. A gentleman had a dress code based on his position in life. He might be wealthy and wear very fine clothes, or he might not be quite well-off but very fashion-forward. Perhaps his waistcoat was brightly colored but not well made or adorned with fancy buttons. His neckcloth or cravat had to be white and could be tied in several ways, from simple to elaborate, depending on the gentleman’s disposition. In many cases, he was required to wear knee breeches and could be turned away for wearing long trousers.
When he arrived at the ball, he would remove his sword and his boots. He wouldn’t want to step on the ladies’ toes with those shiny Hessian boots. He would have brought dancing shoes similar to ballet slippers. This lack of high boot would show off his fine-stockinged legs.
Clapping and snapping were not permitted, as they could disturb the company. However, some dances included clapping, and in those instances, it was permitted.
The master of ceremonies, many of whom were strict, supervised the dances. In the absence of enough women, men were permitted to dance together. However, in cases where there were not enough men, women were not allowed to couple, unless they gained the permission of the master of ceremonies.
Then the dancing began. One must pay homage to how fit these people were. The dances were long and strenuous. Some could last eight minutes and involved quite a lot of prancing. Imagine prancing for eight minutes; the gentlemen and ladies would have worked up a sweat. And with the spirits being served, I’d be willing to bet quite a few made fools of themselves.
Despite all the rules of propriety, it was in the ballroom where many flirtations began. This was the one place where men and women of the gentry could speak to each other unfettered by rules designed to keep them apart. And even through gloves, the notion of touching must have been quite heady for both sexes, who were forbidden as much as a handshake between them outside of this setting.
In the first installment of A. S. Fenichel’s Everton Domestic Society historical romance series, not every match is made by design.
After a disastrous, short-lived engagement and years of caring for her ailing grandmother, Phoebe Hallsmith is resigned to spinsterhood. But if she must be unmarried, it is far better to be of use than languishing at home, disappointing her parents. As an employee of the Everton Domestic Society of London, Phoebe accepts a position at the country home of an old friend and discovers an estate—and a lord of the manor—in a state of complete chaos.
Losing himself in the bottle has done nothing to ease Markus Flammel’s grief over losing his wife. Not even his toddler daughter can bring him back from the brink. Now this fiery, strong-minded redhead has taken over his home, firing and hiring servants at will and arousing unexpected desire. As not one, but two, suitors suddenly vie for Phoebe’s hand, can Markus move past loss and fight for a future with the woman who has transformed his world?
A Lady’s Honor, the first book in A. S. Fenichel’s Everton Domestic Society series, is available. Look for its sequel, A Lady’s Escape, on October 2, 2018.
About the Author
A. S. Fenichel is a romance author who writes across several sub-categories, including Regency historical romance. Originally from New York, she now lives in East Texas with her husband, a demanding dog, and a temperamental cat. Visit her online at www.ASFenichel.com, or on the social media platforms below.