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A Ball is a formal dance occasion. By formal is meant: people were invited, wore their best clothes ('evening attire'), and the ball was held in a splendid ballroom. In former times everyone danced, but only the wealthy went to balls. Girls had dance cards: men had to book dances with them. Older people sat round the sides and watched the younger people dance. It was a society occasion.
A ball at Apsley House. Shows King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra dancing a quadrille, 1908.
Mardi Gras Ball, 1930s
by William Hogarth, 1745
Palacio San Martín, Buenos Aires