Dancing with George

By the middle of the eighteenth century, dancing had become, for Virginians including George, a passion that was one of the most acceptable forms of social interaction. Anyone who danced poorly, like me, would have been a virtual social outcast. Like their English cousins, Virginians preferred the playful steps of a French minuet set to Handel over, say, a battle in the woods. Many would have chuckled knowingly at Shakespeare’s lines in King Henry VI when Burgundy says,

“I see our wars / Will turn unto peaceful comic sport / When ladiescrave to be encountered with.”

This is, by the way, an excellent use of the age-old British idea of sport—and one that George would have understood innately—as it incorporates both theatrical and romantic notions of the word. It wasn’t, to my mind, such an arcane idea after all when you considered that any chivalric gentleman of this era would really rather make love than war—or at least dance with a lovely lady if he could not do the former.

Corky Palmer, my dance instructor, who was unable to help me master the steps of a French minuet, much less keep from tripping over my shoelaces.


In Trenton at the Masonic Ball, Re-enactors for dance before the Battle of Trenton every year.


Mount Vernon’s own George Washington, Dean Malissa, toasts the crowd with a lovely lady by his side (as was quite common for the real George). At Gadsby’;s Taven in Alexandria, Va.


Gadsby’s Tavern. George spent several birthday’s on the dance floor as the honored guest here in Alexandria, Va.


Dressed to be scorned at the upcoming Birthright Ball at Alexandria’s Gadsby’s Tavern. I preferred playing the role of an 18th Century scribe on the battlefield to the challenges that George mastered so well on the dance floor. GW referred to dance as “the gentler conflict.”

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