We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Dance Card?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A dance card is a small booklet which lists the order of dances at a formal ball. Each dance is on a line with a space so that a lady may write down her dancing partner for the dance. Traditionally, dance cards were filled out before the start of a ball, so that a lady knew that her evening was mapped out for her, and they served as souvenirs for women who wanted to remember the events they attended and the people they enjoyed them with.

The origins of the dance card appear to lie in the 18th century, although the widespread use of dance cards at balls and formal dances did not begin until the 19th century. The “card” is really more like a booklet, although it may be made from a single sheet of folded material. The list of dances on the inside typically also indicates which style of dance is being performed, allowing women to choose partners who are well suited to that type of dance.

The cover of a dance card is decorative, and it usually references the host of the event. It may include the date and time of the dance, along with art which compliments the sponsor, such as elegant ships for a ball sponsored by the Navy. Many vintage dance card covers are quite beautiful, featuring the work of well known artists, and some people actively collect vintage dance cards for their covers.

Some people also call dance cards Ballspenden, after their German name. By tradition, only female attendees of a dance carry dance cards, which are typically attached with decorative cord or ribbon. A wise lady also carries a pen for her dance partners to use when they fill out her dance card. Especially elegant dance cards may even be decorated with jewels, gold leaf, or other expensive features.

The use of a dance card can be challenging. Although there are no formal rules, there are some social conventions which are important to keep in mind. For example, a lady generally does not give more than three dances to the same gentleman unless she is greatly attached to him. It is also traditional to take the last dance with a special someone, leading to the request to “save the last dance for me.” Courteous gentleman always ensure that all ladies at a dance have partners, and they may dance with less than desirable partners to make sure that everyone at the dance is having a good time.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Sports n' Hobbies researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon271564 — On May 27, 2012

What happens if more than one woman has the same man's name for the same dance?

By donbri5 — On Feb 14, 2011

@anon84697--I think there are a lot of ways a man could have asked to be on the dance card. One way that I have heard about was to politely ask the woman if they might have time to spend with the gentleman before the evening is over. This gives the woman a chance to look at her card to see if there is an opening and if she wants to include this particular man without insulting him if she decides to say no.

By anon84697 — On May 17, 2010

how does a man properly ask to be added to a dance card? "May I be added to the queue"? or just "May i have the next dance?"

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.