Pencil us in: twentieth century dance cards at The University of Queensland

While many of us connect dance cards with formal nineteenth century balls, three dance cards from the Fryer Library, show three very different dances.

The earliest, a souvenir from the First World War period, is for a returned Soldiers' Welcome Banquet. As well as a programme of twelve dances, the night included toasts to the King and fallen soldiers.



On the 26th July 1930, the Engineering Undergrads. Society at UQ staged a dance 'at home in the drawing office' dance (dancing 8 to 12 with RSVPs to the Hon. Sec. Ball Committee). Far from a formal dance card, however, labelled 'plans and specifications' the card lists dances of a particularly engineering flavour: from 'electrical ecstasy' to 'live wire lope'.


(We can only assume that the name 'Dot Hill' pencilled on the back refers to Professor Dorothy Hill, for whom our engineering and sciences library is named).


Degree day dinner and dance, is the smallest card (5.5 by 11.5 cm), printed in gold with a decorative edge. Clearly, the University Union expected graduates to dance all night in 1938.


Dances include the waltz, one step, foxtrot, tango and rhumba. Contemporary newspaper reports suggest that the Degree day festivities were a social high point during the University's inter-war period.

Last updated:
30 November 2016