About the Vintage Tea Dances
Vintage Dance, in general, is a name given to historical social dances originally popular from about 1812 (Jane Austen's "Regency" era) to about 1920 (the beginning of the "Jazz Age"). Our Tea Dances cover this entire range, with a little more emphasis on the "Civil War Era" of the 1860s, and try to maintain a balance between teaching and dancing, so that it serves as both an educational and social occasion. We also serve tea and have delicious potluck refreshments.
Each afternoon is a mix of "set dances" and "couple dances". The set dances are always taught, and suitable for all ages and levels of experience or lack thereof. Examples of set dances would be The Virginia Reel, Sir Roger de Coverley, The Quadrille, and Les Lanciers, or Lancers. We usually focus on one or two couple dances to teach, and let the others take care of themselves. People with practically ANY other dance experience will know some of the couple dances, such as waltz, polka, schottische, galop, tango, foxtrot, one-step, and two-step.
Some couple dances will be taught at the beginner level, but more advanced dancers will be free to practice their more advanced steps. Some months, we will teach beginning steps for a number of different dances of the period; some months, we will look at a particular dance and dive into it a little more deeply.
We have a selection of different teachers through the year, and mix up time periods. As mentioned before, our historical range extends from the Regency Era (1811-1820) through the beginning of the Jazz Age (1920s). In dance terms, that's from the introduction of the Waltz to the heyday of the Fox Trot and Charleston; it also covers the gradual replacement of the Country Dance by the Quadrille, the rise and fall of the Polka; the Galop or Galopade; the introduction of the Tango, the One Step, and the Hesitation Waltz; and briefly popular dances such as the Maxixe, the Half and Half, and the Lulu Fado. That's a lot of dances and only skims the high points. We don't do all the dances on any one afternoon. We won't necessarily even do them all over the course of the year.
Previous Experience? Partners?
You don't need any previous experience, nor to bring your own partner. Some dances will always be taught, and we change partners frequently, in fact, during the entirety of the historical range we cover, it was considered very rude to dance more than twice at one dance with any single partner, even your own spouse.
Most Tea Dances have live music. The Ad-hoc Waltz and Quadrille Band frequently provides our dance music.
2010-2011 Tea Dance Schedule:
- October 24: Teens/Twenties with Barbara Pugliese
- November 21: Civil War dances with Michael Bergman
- December 19: Jane Austen's Birthday Celebration with Susan de Guardiola
- January 23: Teens/Twenties featuring the Yale Blues with Susan de Guardiola
- February: Regency Waltz and Country Dances with Antonia Pugliese. Exact Date and Location TBA
- March 20: Ragtime dances with Marc Casslar
- April 17 TBA
Dress & Shoes
There is no specific dress code. When pressed for space, we say: "Modern casual dress and historical semi-formal afternoon wear are all welcome." Since we have more space here, let's examine that in more detail.
Historical Costume: If you have historical costumes, the period of each dance is usually shown in the schedule, and varies from month to month. Ideally, you would wear something "nice" intended as afternoon wear, not work clothes, not formal evening wear. However, any period costume will be welcomed.
Making do with things from your closet: If you want to dress up, but haven't done this before, you can call our clothing historians, Katy and Barbara, and they can help you choose the most appropriate of those clothes that you already own. Contact me (Michael) to get their phone numbers: (617) 964-7684, or email
Modern Costume: If you aren't interested in historical costume, you're still absolutely welcome. Please wear something "nice"; for gentlemen, we prefer something better than jeans and a T-shirt and ask that you not wear shorts; for ladies, in addition, we prefer that you not wear a very short skirt, and skirts or dresses are preferred rather than trousers. But, these are preferences, not requirements.
Shoes: We have a beautiful venue with a nice floor in good condition, and we ask that you bring a pair of shoes that are not street shoes, or that have been cleaned very well, to dance in. Suede soled dance shoes are excellent. For ladies, for ragtime and nineteen-twenties themed dances, medium height heels can be helpful; so-called "Character Shoes" are ideal. For 19th century dances, flats are preferred.
If you are interested in helping serve refreshments, or in making refreshments, or helping decorate the hall, or publicity, or flier design, please contact Michael: