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  • Writer's pictureKaren M Edwards

The Scandalous Waltz

In Chapter 1 of my novel, The Brittany Assignment, ML (Huw Griffiths) uses the waltz to escape from a possible threat. But, he scandalizes the FL (Phebe Hetherington) by clasping her around the waist and twirling her along away from the ballroom and into a side room where he can safely escape. It is a bold and dastardly move which he is ashamed to do, but he was in a tight spot. So it starts the FL and ML off on a wrong foot---literally.

Here are links discussing the waltz and a video of an example from 1816. Most dances were group dances where there was little touching except through the hands. And women always wore gloves, so no skin. The waltz was a couple dance, thus more intimate. As the article points out, "it encouraged (or at least tolerated) uninterrupted eye contact." Too intimate by far. Rather than the more decorous form of holding the arms like they did in an English ball in 1812, I have Huw use the more scandalous version of putting his arm around Phebe's waist. This form may or may not have been used in high society in France in 1810, but it certainly was known in England and thought to be the form used by "inferior orders of society" or perhaps the more "immoral" French and Austrian societies. That is tongue in cheek as British Regency society could be just as immoral. It's ironic that Lord Byron who scandalized people with his immoral behavior was anti-waltz.

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