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1930s & Earlier / Dance Cards
Here was a quaint custom that has sadly disappeared: Dance cards. A dance card was commonly used by a young woman to record the names of the gentlemen with whom she intended to dance each successive dance at a formal ball. They appear to have originated in 18th century, but their use first became widespread in 19th century Vienna. Typically a card would list of all the dances for the evening and their style: for example, waltz, polka, or quadrille. Opposite each dance was a space to record the name of the scheduled partner for that dance. After the event ended, the card was frequently kept by the young lady as a souvenir of the evening. Typically, it would have a cover indicating the date and sponsoring organization of the ball and a decorative cord by which it could be attached to a lady's wrist or ball gown. From the 19th century until the First World War, dance cards for the elite of Austria-Hungary were often very elaborate, with some even incorporating precious metals and jewels. In modern times the expression "dance card" is often used metaphorically, as when someone says "pencil me into your dance card," meaning "find some time to spend with me". Conversely, someone's "dance card is full" implies that even though they may be interested, they have no time for another person.