The Tea Dance: Much Better than Prom

What could possibly make the delicious tradition of afternoon tea even better? How about adding music and a dance floor as a side to your scones?

A tea dance is a late-afternoon or early-evening dance (around the same time as afternoon tea! What a coincidence!) that accompanied the afternoon tea meal. Tables would surround the dance floor and musicians and guests would be served the typical sandwiches, scones, desserts, and tea while having the option to waltz, tango, and foxtrot away the clotted cream they just consumed.


A tea dance revived in Hampshire, England

A tea dance revived in Hampshire, England

The first references were in Victorian era etiquette books, but tea dances were then limited to country suburbs, garrison towns, and getaways. Their intention was to offer a well-chaperoned event for eligible young bachelors to meet eligible young ladies. Starting in 1912, the upscale English hotels and restaurants started offering these tea dances and by the 1920s had spread to all the fashionable cities and their restaurants, hotels, and theaters. The Charleston also joined the waltz and tango.

ELT200711220643502953852Tea dances were mostly popular in France, French colonies like Morocco and Buenos Aires, London, and the British resort towns.

Hmmm, maybe this summer I’ll bring the tea dance back to popularity and host a tea dance of my own? Guess I better start teaching all my friends the Charleston!

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