So far a Lady of the 1800s ought to have a fair grasp of artistic ability, a foreign language or two, geography, history, needlework, and now
A lady should know how to play an instrument and dance gracefully.
The choice in instruments of the time period for women were the pianoforte or the harp. A lady was expected to practice her instrument for one or two hours daily, or so dictated the music masters. The purpose was to provide entertainment in social gatherings and as always to boast one’s proficiency.
Dancing had similar origins. It was a customary way for men and women to interact. The dance sequences involved various partners and complicated steps. This social engagement also allowed the women to show off their figures, attention to the latest fashions and their elegance and grace. Galas, dances, balls, assemblies, whatever the nomenclature, it was the place to meet people and it was imperative a lady put her best foot forward.
I have an interesting relationship with music as a hearing impaired person. I enjoy most forms of music, including popular, rap, rock, country, opera, and classical. From the instrumental stand point, high notes are difficult to listen to as they physically hurt to hear. Personally, brass and percussion instruments have a “tinny echo,” which I find irritating at times. I prefer the strings instruments; with the violin topping my list of favorites. Yet, due to the nature of my hearing aids, it proves difficult to play an instrument so close to my ear. The hearing aid would emit feedback. On the other hand, I have a secret desire to learn the drums (not so much the cymbal portion of it). This is in line with many hard of hearing people and their affinity for percussion music or instruments which produce bass sounds. The bass vibrations are easier on us to feel and hear. Could you imagine a formal setting, such as a Victorian drawing-room, for a lady to rock it out on the drums?
Dancing in present day is ironically more primitive than those of the Victorians. In today’s society anything goes on the dance floor. It is just movement and grinding to fast pace music. When the tempo slows down there is the ever-present “White man sway” that involves absolutely no skill what-so-ever. The closet thing we have to assembly dances are the Electric Slide, Cuban Shuffle, Tootsie Roll and the Marcarena. I, unfortunately, am a product of my times and just move as the music takes me. However, I do know the basic Latin cumbia. I long to take a proper ballroom dance class and twirl across the floor or even tap into my roots and learn some spicy Latin dances! Then I would be a lady!