A ball was a formal affair. Instruction on appropriate behaviour could be found in books like the 1858 Etiquette for ladies and gentlemen; or, the principles of true politeness: to which is added, the ballroom manual. (The copy shown here belonged to Auckland’s Kerr Taylor family, part of the city’s elite.) There were rules about what to wear, how to approach and behave with other participants, the number of dances to have with a particular partner (no more than two), and whom to take to supper. For girls and young women there was also the issue of whom to go with (going alone was not an option, and a chaperone was necessary for those under the age of 30), and the importance of avoiding loud talking and boisterous laughter. Young men also found ballroom etiquette constricting, and articles appeared in the colony’s newspapers mocking the stiff behaviour required.
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Heritage New Zealand – Pouhere Taonga, Alberton
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