Friday, 31 March 2017

1886 - Bachelors' Ball

A Spectator reporter was sent out to the Grand Opera House to witness and describe for the paper’s readers what was promised to be the social event of the season. His description of the anticipation of, the preparations for and the scene presented by, the Bachelors’ Ball of 1886 was vivid, occasionally humorous and very well done indeed:

“ Many young hearts have been looking forward to the evening of December 17 will all the keen expectancy and joyful flutterings of anticipation which in their younger days they awaited the arrival of Christmas morning with unshakable faith in the bounty of Santa Claus. First, there were vague rumors and whisperings in the girlhood world, then the shadows materialized, and, finally, the nebulous uncertainty took the form of a ball, and dainty cards of invitation got started on their diverse ways, and then the fun began.

“All the elder daughters, who had already came out, at once upon its advent into the family circle, lifted up their voices and demanded new dresses with one accord, and with such a unanimity of sentiment and solitariness of purpose as to carry conviction to every reasonable mind.

“Likewise all the brevet daughters, who have not come out, made one wild clutch for freedom, and pa’s permission.

“At last, the eventful night has arrived, and decked for the conquest, or, as the vulgar young brother remarks, loaded for bear and warranted to kill with telescope sight at sixteen hundred yards, each blushing debutante holds her little levee for the benefit of the children, and then she is off.

“She was numerously represented at the Bachelors’ Ball last evening, and, if arrayed in all the glory of youthful beauty by the reflecting radiance of triumphant millinery art, she was worthy of the occasion, the occasion was, no less, was certainly worthy of her, for the brilliancy of the gathering which assembled to enjoy the hospitality of the bachelors from Hamilton last eveing has seldom, if ever, been equalled in this city.

“About 9 p.m., the guests commenced to arrive, and by an hour later, fully five hundred ladies and gentlemen were assembled on the floor and in the boxes and gallery of the Grand Opera House.

“A magnificent dancing floor had been made by building a platform on a level with the stage back to the pillars of the gallery. The band was placed in the center of the gallery, and played a fine program of dance music.

“The scene presented at the opening of the ball was indeed magnificent. The boxes and the front of the gallery were handsomely draped with flags and variegated bunting, while the pillars were festooned and wreathed with flowers and long streamers of red, white and blue. The gallery and floor were thronged with ladies and gentlemen, the magnificent mass of color represented by the costumes of the fair guests being blended together by the darker figures of their escorts and with the artistic decorations of the room until the whole formed one harmonious picture, while the hum of conversation and the sound of footsteps of the dancers, mingling with the music of the band all contributed to make up a scene of rare beauty and picturesqueness.”1

1 “The Bachelors’ Ball : A Brilliant and Successful Event.”

Hamilton Spectator.   December 18, 1886
Grand Opera House
Image courtesy PreVIEW, Local History and Archives, Hamilton Public Library.


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