A note to the young gentlemen on ball etiquette

My dear young gentleman,

This ball might be the first for many of you, so you are in need of a little instruction on the rudiments of ball etiquette. A ball promises great delight and enjoyment; however, you must know how to conduct yourself properly to enjoy its pleasures.

First, this is a ball, not a dance. At a dance, many boys simply act without any direction or discretion. This simply will not do at our ball. At all times you must act with complete hospitality towards and respect for the young ladies. At no time are your actions to be controlled by male egotism, passion or cowardice. We will be doing partner dancing at the ball which means there will be some physical contact. In order to make sure that you control yourself with all proper courtesy and decorum, please follow these guidelines. When you wish to dance with a young lady, approach her and say, "May I have this dance with you?" If she accepts, offer her your arm, look for an available space on the dance floor and escort her to it. Once the dance is complete, thank her for dancing with you, offer her your arm again and lead her back to where she was originally seated. If you do not act in a polite manner when you ask her to dance (for example, if you approached and said, "Hey, let’s dance") you will simply be told, "No". If you are polite to her and yet she does not desire dance, she will smile and say, "No, thank you." or "No, thank you for asking."

A ball is not a place where one comes to find some romantic dream. Therefore, do not wait the entire evening trying to get up the courage to ask a girl for whom you have taken a particular fancy. This is an error that shows both a lamentable fixation on your own passions as well as simple cowardice. One comes to a ball to dance. It is your responsibility to make sure that the young ladies who would like to dance have an opportunity to do so. If you see someone who has not yet had an opportunity to dance, make sure she is given that opportunity. If you find you are turned down, do not sulk, simply smile, walk away and ask someone else.

Your gracious attitude towards the ladies should not stop once you leave the dance floor. Whether it be around the punch bowl, going through doors, or simply chatting between dances, you will be expected to show them all proper deference. Phrases like, "Excuse me", "Please, you first", "Thank you", "You are kind to say so." should be ready on your lips.

You can expect the finest behavior from your female peers in ETS; however, they may be a bit nervous themselves and resort to that irksome habit of huddling in little female bevies around the peripheries of the dance floor. If this were a perfect world you would not need to face such obstacles, however, manly courage is not daunted but strengthened by such trials. Remember- it is not the woman’s place to ask you to dance. It is your responsibility to overcome your boyish timidity, take the part of a man and show a hospitable initiation towards the young ladies. Politely requesting a girl to dance will say volumes about your character. Also remember, just because a girl looks down at the ground when you approach to ask her to dance, this does not necessarily mean that she does not wish to dance. Often young women are quite shy and find it very difficult to look at a young man directly. If a young woman has come to a ball, it is a fair assumption that she would like to dance.

I do not mean to give you these guidelines to restrict the natural delight that one can take in such events, yet, as with the rest of life, it is within structure that we find the blessings freedom provides.

Mr. Hinrichs

a.k.a.Mr. Manners