Dancing has been an important part of Virginia history for four centuries. The ballrooms of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum were built for large community functions. The first event held in the c. 1785 tavern’s large room was a ball on November 17, 1785. Yet the most famous room is the 1792 City Tavern ballroom. This grand room was designed specifically to impress during “assemblies” and includes a unique hanging musician’s gallery.
Historic Dance Program
- Balls: Throughout the year, period balls from various centuries occur in the historic City Tavern ballroom. A typical evening includes live music, a period inspired dessert collation, period libations, and dancing. Costumes are encouraged; after-five attire requested. Visit the Historic Alexandria Calendar for upcoming ball dates.
- Dance Classes: On the three Thursdays prior to each ball, a dance master provides dance instruction. Visit the Historic Alexandria Calendar for upcoming lesson dates.
Alexandria Assembly: The Museum’s performance dance group, the Alexandria Assembly, meets most Tuesday nights for practice and instruction. Monthly donations are accepted. Prerequisite: dancers must have participated in a Thursday night dance class series.
- An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals (Library of Congress)
- The Colonial Music Institute
- Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Stepping into the 18th-Century CD (purchase from The Alexandria Shop)
- Clothing Resources on Gadsby's Tavern Museum’s Pinterest Page
Playing the Past Ball Outreach Kit
Recreating an 18th-century ball is a fun way to learn about 18th-century life! This outreach kit walks a classroom or Girl Scout troop through all of the steps, from researching a character to making clothes to recipes, games, and dances for the big event.