(Important in The Mistaken Wife)

The walzer or waltz evolved in the middle of the eighteenth century, probably from peasant dances such as the Ländler and the Dreher.  Gliding, revolving dances for couples had been known earlier, both in the German and Austrian courts and among the common people, but these had not spread across continental Europe where the minuet held sway as the society dance par excellence.  Indeed, the solemn, increasingly formalised rituals of the minuet were recorded in dancing manuals and taught by professional dancing-masters to those wishing to succeed in society.  The English country-dance had already provided an antidote to the artificiality of the minuet when the waltz burst upon the scene, but the English ‘rounds’ and ‘longways’ dances were judged tame in comparison.  From its introduction in Vienna in the early 1790s, the waltz swiftly became very popular – in spite or perhaps because of its erotic associations.  Women, it was claimed, would become frenzied as a result of the whirling motion and close contact with their partner.  From Austria the waltz spread to France and England.  The Revolution had freed dance from the strict bonds of Old Regime society, and foreign visitors commented on how freely and frequently Frenchmen and women indulged in dancing during the Revolutionary period.  In England the waltz was accepted far more cautiously.  The true ‘waltz movement’ was not common in England until after 1812.  A description of the correct method of Waltzing, published in 1816, defended the dance against charges of immorality, but one doubts whether Mrs Tipton and her friends would have been convinced.