Ball Card, Calcutta, 1943

Formal dances were popular forms of entertainment for both civilians and service personnel alike in the Second World War and were held both in the UK and abroad. A small fee was paid and a dance card issued that acted as both a ticket to enter the event and an order of service for the various different dances that would be performed. Today we are looking at a little dance card from a dance held in Calcutta in 1943. The card itself is crudely printed on cheap card stock and we can see that the band providing the evening’s entertainment was the RAF Ambassadors full band:

The rear of the card has an advert for a local business who presumably provided some sponsorship for the event in return for the advertising and details of the printers which helps us to locate the event to Calcutta:

The interior of the card has the different dances recorded in the order they would appear and space to record partners’ names:

Male dancers would request dances for the evening from the ladies present and both parties would record these on the cards so that everyone knew with whom they would be dancing for each dance across the whole evening. Dancing was hugely popular and Ande Ashcroft, back in England, recalls how much she enjoyed it:

A lot of the wartime memories I have are about dancing and dance music, especially the big bands. I got to know a lot of the people who were involved in professional dancing and the dance orchestras, such as Victor Silvester who was a dancer and led a dance orchestra…I was at an age where I wanted to go dancing, especially when the various dance halls were overwhelmed with men from all nations! With Farnborough and Aldershot being military towns the girls were outnumbered by boys. Therefore, all the girls were allowed into the dance halls for free! It was wonderful.

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