The Old-Time Herald Volume 8, Number 6

Dance Beat

by Phil Jamison

Dancing in Colonial America

When the first Europeans came to America, they brought with them their music and dances, and by the end of the 17th century, dancing masters were teaching minuets and English country dances (contra dances) at dancing schools in American cities and towns throughout the colonies. As in Europe, once dancers had learned the figures, as well as proper etiquette for the ballroom, they could attend a public ball.

At taverns and inns, both in the city and countryside, less formal dancing took place, which included step dancing to jigs and hornpipes. John Adams described in his diary such a “frolic” with black fiddlers at a Boston area tavern in 1760.

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