Waltzing and Almack's
Posted by Laura Wallaceq on November 15, 1997 at 15:58:34:
In response to When the waltz was introduced at Almacks Assembly Rooms, written by Mary Collette on October 16, 1997 at 10:47:17
I was reading the thread on waltzing and thought I
would post on the exact year that it was introduced at
Almacks Assembly Rooms in London. It was introduced in the
year 1813 by the Countess Lieven who was among other things the wife of the Russian ambassador to The Court of St.James.
What is your source for this date, please? This is one of the research topics I've been pursuing for years and I can't find definitive answers.
My sources say that the real uproar was caused when in the summer of 1814 the Tsar Alexander danced the waltz with Countess Lieven and Lady Jersey at Almack's. (I suspect that the Tsar danced the more intimate Viennese waltz, which requires body contact between the partners in the pelvic region, rather than the regulation 12-inch distance that was required by ordinary mortals who later danced the waltz at Almack's. That plus the fact that the Tsar was a hunky supserstar would account for the report that the ladies who observed felt a little faint.) Captain Gronow says that the waltz was introduced at Almack's after 1815, but I think he was mistaken, and it was introduced there at least a year earlier.
Regardless of when it became acceptable at Almack's, it was certainly danced at private "waltzing parties" before then. Lady Caroline Lamb held them, as did other hostesses. But Almack's was considered "public" (even though it was a strictly private club), so dancing the waltz there was a bit more questionable. Christopher Hibbert, who edited my edition of Gronow's memoirs, says in a footnote that the waltz arrived in London in 1791 (naturally he doesn't provide a source).
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