The Newport Dancers' Gazette
Newport Dance Week
Volume 3 Number 1 - August 5, 1996
Editors: Michelle and Peter Lee
Dear Friends--Old and New,
The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers are extremely pleased to welcome you to the
9th Newport Vintage Dance Week. We are very excited about this year's program.
Always tinkering to invent a better mousetrap, we're looking forward to two new
events: the Ragtime Cabaret and the 1890's Ball. We are also delighted to have
Nancy Rexford join us for a lecture on Saturday morning.
The comments turned in at the end of the week last year were most helpful for
our planning. We hope, if you have been here before, that you find your
favorite events scheduled. If this is your first visit with us, we hope you
find the week to be a lot of fun!
Speaking with the instructors over the past weeks, I know they have an
abundance of interesting material prepared to keep you busy and challenged.
If there is anything we can do to make your stay here more enjoyable, please
speak to me, or any of The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, and we will try to
Best wishes for a fabulous week!
Hannah Roberts Artuso
Conference Coordinator and Co-Director, CVD
HOW DO I PICK WHICH CLASS TO ATTEND?
Those trying vintage dance for the first time, including people with other
types of dance experience, are encouraged to take the beginner level classes,
as are those with only a little vintage dance experience. This will help you
learn the basic vintage dance steps. Dancers familiar with the basic vintage
dance steps may want to try the more advanced classes. The afternoon classes
may be attended by dancers of any level, however, beginners may find the dances
of the 1920s easier to pick up.
A reminder that Vintage Dancers must be security-conscious due to the openness
of the campus and the many tourists in the area. A few basic tips:
1. Never prop the doors to the dormitories open.
2. Never let tourists into the dorms or dance halls.
3. Never leave bicycles unlocked.
4. Remember your keys!! If you do get locked out, call Salve Security to be let
in: X 5500.
THE PIMM'S CUP RECEPTION
After you've unpacked (or if you need a break) please come renew acquaintances
and make new friends as we warm up our dancing feet. Newport's summer parties
and dances have made the city famous. You'll have a chance to dance and enjoy
Ralph McDonald's legendary New Orleans Pimm's Cup (the drink that made the
Newport Dance Week Famous). Other potables will be available for teetotalers.
The reception will be at Watts Sherman, starting at 8 PM on
TOUR THE CHATEAU-SUR-MER
This year we will be touring the Chateau-sur-Mer, on Tuesday at 3:00
and 3:30 PM. You will need to stick with the time you signed up for at
registration as we are limited in the number of guests we can send in at each
tour time. Please be on time at the mansion as we must do a nose count for the
mansion staff. We are scheduled to enter the mansion at 3:15 and 3:45
PM. Latecomers will not be allowed to join the tour.
Chateau-sur-Mer is an amazingly elaborate and ornate mansion. Built in 1852 for
William S. Wetmore, a China trader, Richard Morris Hunt added Newport's first
French ballroom to the home in 1872. A Chinese "moongate" is part of the south
wall. Please meet at the mansion, as it is within walking distance of the
Directions to the Chateau-sur-Mer from Watts Sherman dorm: Travel up Shepard
Ave. to Bellevue Ave. Turn Right onto Bellevue. The Mansion is on the right
side of the street between Shepard and Leroy Ave.
SWAP AND SELL
On Tuesday at 7 PM there will be a Swap and Sell in Cecilia Hall
(Carey Mansion). Please bring items you want to sell, or come looking for
items you want to buy. Tables will be provided.
Sing-Along and Games Evening. You don't have to be Jenny Lind or
Enrico Caruso to join Tuesday evening's sing along. Lend your voice or ears. If
you have a favorite song, bring it along. The Sing Along will be in the lounge
in Watts Sherman, starting at 9 PM on Tuesday. There will
also be a puzzles and games available in Watts Sherman for those who'd like to
come and listen.
Tango Evening: Narragansett Hall will host a tango soiree. Dancing on
the open air porch makes for a perfect summer evening! Dancing commences at
9 PM on Tuesday evening.
Pick the party you want to go to, or visit both! If the residents of any other
house would like to host another houseparty, please speak to Hannah Roberts
Artuso, so the party can be announced.
If you would like to walk the Cliff Walk with others in "whites" (summer
"white" attire is encouraged but not required), please meet on Wednesday at
3:30 PM behind McAuley Hall. If you are walking from Miley Hall on
Ochre Point Ave, McAuley Hall is the next building on the left after Ochre
CREAM TEA AT NARAGANSETT
The annual Cream Tea will be held this year on Wednesday afternoon at
4:00 - 5:30 PM at Naragansett House, after the promenade. This tea is
served in the style that might be expected at an English country house party,
or a village fete, with fresh scones, butter, heavy cream (hence the name
"Cream Tea") and jam, and steaming pots of tea for the beverage. In contrast,
the Wakehurst tea on Friday has a menu similar to fancy high teas served in
This is a casual event, for Newport standards, held on the lawn with dancing on
the porch (we will serve inside in case of rain). Please wear suitable clothing
for an afternoon lawn party: vintage day wear and summer whites are
particularly suitable, but you might save your best for the high tea and garden
party at Wakehurst. As we hope to be outdoors, if you have packed a hat, this
will be fine opportunity to wear it.
Narragansett House is on Narragansett Street, a few blocks inland from the
Cliff Walk. It is easy to find for the wave-pattern picket fence in front.
Those who are taking the Cliff Walk that afternoon might want to walk toward
Ochre Court and turn up Naragansett St. (the street just beyond Ochre Court) to
arrive in a timely manner at the tea.
Naragansett House appears to have been built originally in the 1860's or
1870's as a family house - this survives as the back wing, and the original
staircase, trimmed with dark natural woodwork, is now the back stairs. The
front of the house was purpose built at the turn-of-the-century to be an
elegant summer boarding house. The large reception hall, front parlors and
dining room and porch were common areas for the residents (the modern kitchen
was simply the serving pantry originally - the main kitchen is behind it).
Upstairs there are suites of rooms for families and single rooms above the
porte cochere for bachelors. Rooms for ladies maids were provided on the
third floor, accessed from the housekeeper's suite at the back of the second
floor, while the gentlemen's valets had a separate staircase leading to their
rooms above the bachelor's wing. The fine quality of architectural detail
throughout indicates that this was a very respectable place to board for the
summer - a step up from the spartan hotels of the time. It was very common in
the late 19th century for families to board on the seaside or in the
mountains for the entire summer to escape the heat and smells and disease of
the cities. If husbands had to attend to business, they often stayed at their
clubs in town during the week, and traveled to join their families for the
weekend - if the distance was not too great. The society of these seaside
resorts also provided opportunities for families to introduce their sons and
daughters in an era before coeducational colleges were common. Naragansett
House had the advantage of being on a quiet street nearby the mansions of
Ochre Point, the Cliff Walk, and also within comfortable walking distance
from the Casino - a good location for a family that did not maintain a
Submitted by Mr. John Burrows
Will the officer, who must remember me, because he tore my dress in the polka,
be so kind as to send me my pocket-handkerchief? He may keep the flower.
P.S. I don't care about it, only Julia, that you wouldn't dance with, goes on
and says she will tell Ma.
Punch March 17, 1860
RAGTIME CABARET (1914)
On Wednesday Evening starting at 8:15 PM, a Ragtime
Cabaret will be held at Carey Mansion. Please come dance your favorite
steps at the rollicking cabaret.
Do you sing, recite verse, act, perform magic, play music, dance or possess
another entertaining talent? We'd like to include you in the Cabaret Revue.
Sign up at registration with Brian McCorkle.
BEACH & OUTING DAY
To The Beach! Please listen for announcements regarding the beach trip
on Thursday afternoon. Newport has several beaches. The destination will
depend on beach conditions. We will try to arrange carpools for those without
vehicles who would like to participate in this outing.
Vintage Yacht Afternoon Excursion: Tom Walton will lead an outing on the
Adirondack--Newport's fastest schooner. 20 places have been reserved and will
go on a first come basis. See Tom to make reservations. Sail time is at 3:15
PM on Thursday from the dock behind America's Cup Ave.
Complimentary soda is served and a cash bar is available. The cost is $17.00
per adult ($3 off the regular price). Carpool leaves parking lot at front of
Miley Dining Hall at 3 PM. Fees are refundable if it rains.
Period Hairstyles Workshop: On Thursday Afternoon in
Narragansett Hall. Katy Bishop will be holding a workshop on period
hairstyles. Three or more feet of hair is not a prerequisite for this workshop!
Common hairstyles of the 1860's, 1890's, 1900's and 1910's will be discussed
with some hands-on hints about how to achieve them. Bring your hair accessories
and a desire to play hairdresser! Please contact Katy if your interested in
Other outings: Got other plans? Would you be willing to take someone
along? Please post your destination, with a sign-up sheet, on the bulletin
board in Miley Hall.
THE NEW ENGLAND LOBSTER DINNER
On Thursday Evening starting at 6:00 PM in Miley
Hall there will be a New England Lobster Dinner. Who could call summer in
New England complete without a lobster dinner? There will be chicken and
vegetarian fare for those who prefer non-crustaceans. The big question: who
knows the lobster quadrille? Will you won't you, will you won't you join the
AN 1890'S BALL AT THE ASTORS'
On Thursday Evening starting at 9:15 PM, there will be a formal
1890's Ball at the Astors' Beechwood Mansion.
Please join us at Mrs. Caroline Astors' summer cottage at 580 Bellevue
Ave. Mrs. Astor was part of the Newport summer society and created the "Four
Hundred," America's first circle of society's elite in the 1890's. Music will
be provided by the New River Dance Orchestra.
Directions are as follows: from Cecilia Hall, go up Ruggles Ave. and take the
first left onto Bellevue Ave. Mrs. Astor's home will be on the left, number
580. Parking is available on the estate grounds. If you have an automobile with
you this week, please offer rides to those who do not. For more information on
The Astors' Beechwood please call 401-846-3772.
The Wakehurst Tea will be on Friday at 3:30 PM on the first floor of the
Wakehurst Center. Wakehurst is patterned after an Elizabethan house in Sussex,
England. Wakehurst is across the street from Mercy Gym, and looks like a small
castle. Tea, lemonade, and tea sandwiches will be served. Please add in that a
stroll through the formal garden is a highlight of the event.
ASK MRS. ASTORBILT
Mrs. Astorbilt has again agreed to grace The Gazette, with her wit and
advice. The editors of the NDG are off-campus this season and regret
that they cannot add new items to the Gazette during the week. If you
have any questions for Mrs. Astorbilt, please hand them to Hannah or e-mail the
and Mrs. A. will attempt to answer them for
next year's Gazette.
Dear Mrs. Astorbilt,
This is my first time at Newport. I used the guidelines from the Newport
"Greetings" letter to pick out from my closet the best clothes I had and I
borrowed a few nice outfits from friends. Now that I'm here and see some of the
beautiful and elaborate gowns some others have brought, I am feeling very
intimidated. Will I look out of place in my plain, non-historical, dresses?
Not Yet A Butterfly
Dear Miss Butterfly to Be,
Many of the ladies you will see at Newport have been acquiring one or two nice
dresses a year for many years, and now own a different lovely outfit for each
tea and ball on the schedule. Others are content with a very few serviceable
outfits that fit in with a variety of activities.
Mrs. Astorbilt is sure that everyone remembers their first Newport, when they
had fewer clothing choices and much less packing to do! If you want to take the
opportunity this week to do a little "window shopping" for the future, you will
find that most everyone loves to talk about their clothes, and a simple
question will elicit floods of information. On the other hand, polite folk will
not offer advice on proper dress unless asked.
Enjoy yourself, work on your dancing, and find some congenial companions. While
Mrs. Astorbilt feels that wearing historically styled clothing adds a nice
touch to the events of the week, she hopes that no one gets so wrapped up in
clothing worries that they forget to have fun.
Dear Mrs. Astorbilt,
I was standing with my escort at a formal ball, when a couple approached us.
The gentleman asked my friend for a dance on behalf of his wife. My friend
assented, but then the gentleman did not ask me for a dance. Shouldn't a couple
always ask both parties of another couple?
Unexpectedly a Wallflower
Dear Miss Wallflower,
Mrs. Astorbilt agrees that an awkward situation was created in which it does
look as if the husband should have felt obliged to ask you for a dance. The
problem, however, was less a matter of his not asking than of his creation of
the situation in the first place. That is, Mrs. Astorbilt feels that the
husband did indeed violate the principles of etiquette, but at an earlier point
than you suggest.
As a general rule, one should not make social requests of a person who cannot
readily decline. In it's strongest form, this principle dictates that a manager
should not flirt with an employee, and that a teacher should not date a
student. In a weaker form, this explains why a lady should not, in general, ask
a gentleman for a dance, though she may with complete propriety ask her
husband, her cousin, or any other friend close enough to her that he would know
that he could decline without her feeling hurt or insulted.
When the husband asked your friend to dance with his wife in her presence, he
made it impossible for your friend to decline without potentially causing her
some humiliation. Had the gentleman made this request when alone with your
friend, your friend could presumably have replied more freely. Best of all,
however, would have been for the husband to have merely suggested that he ask
the wife for a dance. Indeed, etiquette manuals of the period encourage popular
ladies to make such suggestions to their partners on behalf of friends who on
that evening have been less fortunate in being approached for dances.
On the matter of couples and parity of dance invitations: Some couples
have private arrangements where the gentleman will not dance unless his
wife has a partner, and he either declines ladies who ask, or he seeks a
partner for his wife before he accepts a lady. Mrs. Astorbilt does not
presume to dictate in private matters. She does think that dance
invitations should be treated in the spirit of "casting your bread upon
the waters" rather than in the spirit of double-entry bookkeeping. Mrs.
Astorbilt believes that a lady who allows her escort to issue dance
invitations freely will be rewarded, sooner or later, in unexpected and
wonderful ways. A lady who is fearful of being neglected should discuss
this, before the ball, with her escort so that they can come up with an
arrangement that will make her feel more secure.
Dear Mrs. Astorbilt,
I recently attended an evening ball and discovered that I did not know
how to reply to a request from a particular gentleman for a dance. I
gave a favorable reply to this gentleman at a previous ball but found
myself uncomfortable at how closely he held me. Indeed, his behavior was
more intimate than I felt proper. Must I accept and if so how might I
convey my wish to remain more distant? May I decline to dance and if so,
what excuse shall I give?
Too Close for Comfort
Dear Mrs. Comfort,
It seems unlikely that you will be able to make your point at the same
time as declining the dance. Mrs. Astorbilt suggests that you accept a
dance, and see if he again pulls you too close. You might then exclaim
something to the effect that you find the extreme closeness very
awkward, or simply suggest that you are uncomfortable dancing in this
posture. If he fails to correct the situation, you should ask him to
take you to your seat without finishing the dance. Mrs. Astorbilt
suspects that he will not thereafter ask you to dance as you will have
communicated the nature and degree of your displeasure. Should he do so
without a premising comment that convinces you that he has mended his
ways, you should feel free to decline his invitations.
Please continue on and read the second
issue of the gazette.
- or -
Return to the Newport Vintage Dance Week page.
For further information about The
Commonwealth Vintage Dancers or the Newport Vintage Dance
Week, send an e-mail to
or call Hannah Roberts Artuso at (781)
662-8344 (before 10pm eastern time, please)