Vintage Dance, or sometimes Historic Social Dance, refers to social dancing or ballroom dancing as done in the U.S. and Western Europe from roughly 1800 to fifty years ago. For convenience, I'll break it into some arbitrary periods, and give a few examples for each.

Dance in the Regency era

a.k.a. Federalist, Edwardian or early 19th century.

We've only just finished The French Revolution and women's fashions enjoy a very brief period of sensibility. Clothing tends to be light and unrestrictive, encouraging dances with lots of skipping and jumping.

Dance in the mid 19th century

Starting with the great international polka craze of 1844 anyone who was anyone was dancing.

Dance in the late 19th century

All the same dances that were done in the mid century are still being done in the late century, but by fewer people and with less enthusiasm. Dance masters, in a vain attempt to maintain their place in society and in the economy, invent dances of greater and greater complexity.

The bustle replaces the hoop, which necessitates a few changes in dancing style.

At the same time, Ragtime music begins its infiltration.

Dance in the Ragtime era

Vernon and Irene Castle bring an air of respectability to couple dancing, and spark what was arguable the largest U.S. dance craze ever. By the end of WWI people mostly don't care anymore.

Dance in the Twenties

It's the roaring twenties, and kids are spoiled. For the first time, there is a class of children who don't have to immediately go to work to support the family. This is an era of highly energetic dances done by the younger generation.

Dance in the Thirties and Forties

More than ever before, white society is getting its dances from black society. Swing music and swing dancing are what's happening

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