George Cruikshank, ‘Les Graces – Inconveniences in Quadrille Dancing’ (1817), showing two women dancing with a short man, accompanied by a lady on the piano © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Dance Types and Locations

Social dance in Britain across the Georgian and early Victorian eras was vibrant, colourful and diverse. It took place in a wide variety of locations, from tents to theatres, and assembly rooms to boats. Dancing and dances were hugely varied, encompassing anything from courtly dances such as the minuet to the romping of the galopade. Despite the professional-amateur divide, the boundaries between social and theatrical dance were porous, with stage stars teaching ballroom dances, and ballroom dances appearing on the stage. This section explores some of the more common dance types and locations between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, and reveals how social and theatrical dance influenced each other.