Story: Love and romance

Rural dances: Spinsters' Ball, 1890 (1st of 2)

Rural dances: Spinsters' Ball, 1890

The Spinsters' Ball at Burkes Pass, South Canterbury, in the winter of 1890 would have attracted a large number of unmarried women and men, as well as their parents and other family members. Significantly, the dance started at 8.30 p.m. and went on into the early hours of the chilly morning. This rural dance was held in the schoolroom, probably the largest place at Burkes Pass, but church halls, shearing sheds and the new public halls were all transformed for balls.

Love and romance were key components of rural dances during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were organised months in advance by committees who decided on the art work for invitations, the invitation list and the design of dance programmes.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: Eph-A-BALL-1899-01

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Rosemary Du Plessis, 'Love and romance - Dances, love and courtship, 1840 to 1950', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 June 2022)

Story by Rosemary Du Plessis, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 1 May 2017