65 - Save the Last Dance

In the early days of Chi Omega social gatherings, dance cards could be seen attached to billowy formal dresses or dangling around wrists as Sisters danced the night away.

These dance cards were often given to women when they would attend balls or dances. They would proudly carry with them a list of the dances for the evening with blank spaces next to each one, waiting to be filled with names of potential dance partners.

Chi Omega formal, 1965

When asked to dance, our Sisters would write the name down for a particular upcoming dance. This helped the women remember who they had agreed to dance with, avoiding promising a dance to multiple people.

As dances and social gathering became less formal and expectations of dancing and mingling with several different people throughout the night changed, dance cards phased out.

Later into the 20th century they still appeared, but more as keepsakes that were decorated with details of the event. But, from this popular etiquette tool came the sayings we still sometimes hear today like “Save the last dance for me…” or “I’m just too busy. My dance card is full…”

Dance card from Xi/Northwestern

Dance card from Eta Alpha/Oregon State, 1940
Dance card from Eta Alpha/Oregon State, 1940

Dance card from Eta Alpha/Oregon State, 1940, where it looks like a Sister only had one person she wanted to dance with, so she filled in the lines herself!
Dance card from Eta Alpha/Oregon State, 1940