Early 19th century – Regency (1805 – 1820)

Significant dances

The Early Waltz incorporated both the 18th century Allemande’s arm holds and a new revolutionary dance form in which couples danced “the opposite of back to back,” as a popular newspaper mentioned, or face to face. It took the basic foot pattern of the minuet and used it as a turn; the couple spun around the dance floor in mutually held cooperation. It brought two revolutionary concepts to ‘couple dancing’: the two turned as one, and they maintained a close embrace The Country Dance(also “Contredanse” or “Contra dance”) is a form of line dancing from the English countryside. Aristocracy often joined local celebrations and brought village dances home with them. The concept of country dance was often spoken as “longways for as many as will” and “head couple dances down the set,” meaning anyone could join and the couples followed the lead of the head couple’s pattern. It was enjoyed by peasants and courtiers, and it is still practiced today by people all over the Western world.

Historical context

  • Napoleon conquers Italy and invades Russia.
  • The US declares war on Britain over freedom of the seas for US vessels (1812).
  • Haiti declares freedom from France as the first Black nation to gain freedom from European rule.
  • US Presidents are Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
  • Nine US states are added; the Supreme Court is established.
  • The US prohibits importation of slaves.


  • Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Lord Byron, and Hegel produce important works.


  • Beethoven, Rossini, Schubert, and Donizetti are the composers of the day.
  • The Star Spangled Banner was written.

Visual arts:

  • Goya paints; the David is erected; the Biedermeier style begins.


  • Steam power is invented. The first steam locomotive operates in the UK and the first steamboat crosses the Atlantic.

Daily life:

  • Gas streetlights appear in London.
  • The English economic crisis causes emigration to the US.
  • The waltz conquers European ballrooms.

Relevant Dancetime Publications DVDs

DANCETIME DVD! 500 YEARS OF SOCIAL DANCE, Volume I: 15th-19th Centuries: Early Waltz, Country Dance


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