Business, Fun, and the Art of Dancing

By E. Brown

I like books. You can tell from my ever changing reading list in the side bar on the right. Recently, I came across an old book that my father-in-law used to own. He liked to dance and this book was on Square Dancing. I thought some of the content was interesting in light of business practices and cultural changes in America. Feel free to get nostalgic with me.

From the Complete Quadrille Call Book and Dancing Master, by Prof. A.C. Wirth, Ex-President of American National Association Masters of Dancing, published in 1902:

quad-drille [kwuh-dril]
1. A square dance for four couples, consisting of five parts or movements, each complete in itself.

Etiquette For Ball and Drawing Room

  • Avoid slang phrases
  • Do not contradict
  • Give your opinions, but do not argue them
  • Dancing is subject to abuse by the thoughtless acquirements of bad habits
  • Never take part in a quadrille without knowing something of the figures
  • While dancing, endeavor to wear a pleasant face
  • Never seem to be conscious of an affront, unless it be of a very gross nature
  • Never become involved in a dispute if it be possible to avoid it
  • Nothing charms more than candor
  • Never repeat in one company any scandal or personal history you have heard in another
  • Contending for a position in quadrilles indicates an irritable and quarrelsome disposition
  • The most obvious mark of good breeding and taste is a regard for the feelings of our companions
  • Be careful not to speak too freely on subjects of which you are ill informed. Allow those who are better informed to lead the conversation
  • Never seem to understand improper expressions; much less use them
  • If you have in any manner given offense do not hesitate to apologize
  • Loud conversation, profanity, stamping the feet, writing on the wall, using tobacco, spitting or throwing anything on the floor, are glaring vulgarities (This one made me smirk — ever seen this in a Boardroom?)
  • It is very indecorous to be laughing, sneering, or commenting at those present. It shows a lack of refinement
  • True politeness costs nothing, but yields the largest interest and profit to the possessor of any know securities

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby

I almost called this article, The Quadrille of Business. I thought it applicable. As you scan through the comments and content above, did you see anything that tied to business? Which ones stood out? Which ones made you laugh? Which ones made you think?

It is interesting to me that though this book was written at the beginning of the last century, the principles are still applicable today. For instance —

Do not contradict
For a boss to say one thing and then do another is damaging to his character and influence. Who will respect a leader when they contradict themselves?

Nothing charms more than candor
Who doesn’t want to be told the truth, even if it is painful? To be open and honest in business will gain you success and prominence over the long term.

Never seem to understand improper expressions; much less use them
I love this one. Ignore those who are trying to provoke you. Take the highroad and be professional. Your accuser will be seen for who and what they really are.

So, I hope you enjoyed this little romp in nostalgia and that maybe, just maybe, you learned a little something too.

Have fun!

Related Links
Business, Fun, and The Art of Dancing, Pt.2


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