Besides going to the theatre, the local populace greatly enjoyed dancing themselves. After a free concert at the Market Hall from which at least 100 patrons had to be turned away, “dancing was indulged in for several hours” (World, Feb. 16, 1894).
The Professor and Mrs. O'Brien, two local teachers established since 1890, gave Cinderella dances in O'Brien's assembly hall and also taught social dances to Vancouverites. An advertisement in the World on April 20, 1894 states: “Mrs. W.E. O'Brien, teacher of society dancing, is about to commence her children's class, during which all the popular society dances will be taught, as well as some very artistic dances suitable for children's exhibitions. For terms apply at academy, corner of Homer and Hastings streets.” An idea of exactly what was taught can be gleaned from an advertisement placed a few months earlier, on February 15, when readers are informed that music can be had for “all the latest dances, including Bronco, Ripple, Jersey, Rye, Polka, Polonaise, Ionic, Waltz, Minuet, Great Pacific Lancers, La Pantiomme [sic], etc.”
In Professor O'Brien's World advertisement the year before, on September 28, 1893, the propriety of the classes is evident. “Ladies, gentlemen or juveniles (conducted as three different classes) desiring instruction or practice in the art and etiquette of the ballroom, are respectfully invited to call and register early in the season as convenient, and be appropriately assigned to beginners, intermediate, or advanced classes. Parents are cordially invited to visit the classes in which their children are members.”
There was good reason for being seen to observe the proprieties as long as critics such as Toronto's Reverend Hunter were around. “Hunter on Dancing” was a World report on April 21, 1894, of the Reverend Hunter's views on dance: “Unlike David of old, modern dancers dance before the devil.” It was the improprieties of dance that so disturbed the Reverend; for instance, men would hold women in a way that would never be allowed anywhere else. What were Reverend Hunter's views on women riding bicycles - in knickerbockers? (next page)
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