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After the Ball

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One of the ads in my op-ed (seriously I will stop linking to it after this) was the "missed connection" from the Liederkranz Ball.  Well, this kind of ad was not at all unique.  It was actually really common to see this kind of ad after big society events; awhile ago I posted two from the Bal d'Opera.

So I found a couple more ads like this from the exact same ball that I thought you might enjoy.

Liederkranz Ball. - Will the lady who bowed to gentleman two or three times on leaving the Academy address gentleman in uniform? Militaire. Herald Uptown office.

Liederkranz Ball - Lovely young lady, brunette, black velvet trimmed with white fur, white satin front, red turban, dancing about two o'clock.  Gentleman would like to get acquainted.  Address Alfred, Herald Branch office.

So what was the Liederkranz Ball, anyway?  Well back when there was a very, very large and centralized German population in New York City, there was a German singing club called the Liederkranz Society.  Starting in 1853, it began to hold a magnificent masquerade ball every year.  Along with another ball, the Arion, the Liederkranz became one of the high society events of the winter.  (I have tons of missed connections from the Arion, too, which I'll post someday.)  In any event, here is a snippet of the New York Times' description of the very ball that all three of these missed connections resulted from in February 1879:
A Brilliant Scene in the Academy.
The Building Crowded - Costumes of Exceptional Beauty - A Ravishing Tableau...
Last night's carnival ball of the German Liederkranz Society was by all odds the finest they have ever given.  Large vases, filled with living plants bearing flowers of gorgeous hue, flanked each entrance to the Academy, each entrance to the dancing-platform, and the stairways leading to the upper floor...Over the principal entrance to the ballroom were the letters "L.K." in pink flowers, encircled by a wreath of roses, which in turn was surrounded by a drapery of smilax...The curtain dividing the stage from the spectators' portion of the hall remained down until 11 o'clock.  At that hour the floor was cleared, and...the curtain slowly ascended, disclosing a spectacle of rare beauty.  The rear of the stage was occupied by a high balcony with three carpeted stairways...The balcony was painted to represent carved stone with roses creeping up over its face.  The bottom was banked its entire length with potted natural flowers.  Potted palms graced the railings...The brilliant hues of the dresses and the drapery, the glitter of gold and silver which ornamented everything, and the gorgeous tints of the flowers...formed a scene of rare beauty.
Wow! I wish I could have been there!!  They don't throw them like they used to, do they?

Of course, the fact that this was so high society is awesome for me.  You didn't have to be a Carnegie or an Astor to get in, of course (in fact, I'm not sure a Carnegie or an Astor would attend).  But you did have to be part of the bourgeosie.  So the men who were publishing these ads were most definitely members of polite society.  What their ultimate intention was I don't know - but it does prove that people using personal ads weren't just low-class rakes.  And that is pretty cool.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein

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