Society Fads and Fancies

A newspaper’s “society page” once covered the community’s social news, listing not only the attendees at local club meetings, parties, and other gatherings, but forecasting the upcoming season’s social trends-called “Society Fads and Fancies” by the Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln) of October 16, 1892. The Journal said:

“From a social point of view-and that is the privileged-the period from October to November is the most dreamy, restful portion of the year. The outings and moonlight picnics of Lincoln park are over. The bathing at Burlington beach is a thing of memory. Tourists have returned and almost forgotten the pleasures of quarantine. . . . Society, deprived of the props of excitement and display, sinks back upon itself and indulges in a brief period of retrospection before the dissipations of the ‘season.’

“The ‘season’ will be made up of the informal breakfast at which you may or may not appear as you feel and dress as you can; the elaborate luncheon, where you must appear in your best spirits and newest gown; the 8 o’clock dinner, at which summer dresses are brought out again with a little touching up and look twice as pretty under soft lights; the ball, where flowers, jewels, trained décolleté gowns and the new sylph-like dances make ‘a young man’s fancy lightly turn to the thoughts of love’; the card party, at which hostesses will vie with such other in introducing pretty conceits, where the dress may be elaborate or otherwise, and the refreshments served-no man knows how-for there are several new fads.

“During the coming season several charming and accomplished debutantes will be introduced formally into society. It goes without saying that they are pretty, and as their parents are well provided with the world’s goods their various debuts will present many novel aspects.

“The prettiest dance submitted to the dancing masters’ convention recently held, was the royal gavotte, which will be very popular during the winter season. This dance suggests the polka-mazurka, but it has a distinctive swing. The gentleman takes the hand of the young woman who has honored him with the dance and to schottische time they take a march-step forward, retreat, turn and face each other, salute and then make a gliding waltz step.

“The young man who wishes to be in society the coming winter must cultivate the acquaintance of married ladies. It is they who will issue invitations to young men, bring out the debutantes, chaperone young ladies, form theatre parties and patronize the balls. Everybody will dance this season, so the young man ignorant of this art cannot expect to be sought after.” 

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