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Merrymaking at a Wayside Inn, watercolor on paper by John Lewis Krimmel. 1811-1813. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 42.95.12

By some miracle, I did not have the Polecats in my head all weekend, despite spending most of Saturday only dancing. It has been some time since I danced (February’s adventure notwithstanding) and after two hip replacements, my Giant son is correct: I’m still re-training my muscles. My feet remember more than my hips do, but at least some of my muscles remember!

The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers Regency Weekend was this past weekend, and while I could only manage Saturday (Sundays are for chores when you’re expecting houseguests for Easter), I had a wonderful time and sincerely hope I can retain what I was taught. The company was very friendly and quite genteel, though I can report that I did experience a variety of partners, and, in one unfortunate case, became so confused I had to step out of the dance entirely. (Mixed rhythms and mixed-up steps became far too jumbled in my poor brain.)

The Five Positions, from An Analysis of Country Dancing, T. Wilson, 1811.

The entire day reminded me strongly of being in a novel, or, as Drunk Tailor said on hearing the description, a movie. Let us merely note that some gentleman are more enthusiastic appreciators of music than others, and that a partner can be left feeling a bit flung about in some of the figures that involve the mouliner. My rusty memories of French came in handy: mouliner and mill connect easily enough for me (seen here, in Prince Kutusoff) and the Boulanger made much more sense when I connected it to mixing bread dough. Hey– whatever gets you through the set without stepping on your own, or anyone else’s feet!

I’d like to think I will remember something of this business the next time I get to dance, whenever that may be. The patterns can be found on line in manuals (as in this description of Sir Roger de Coverly) with some occasional, bearable, videos— and, as always, resources close to home.

Next time: the dress. Until then, I’m posting more on Instagram.