1912 Dating

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Alyson Jones

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Did Edwardian people date? If so was it completely different from now?What kind of pick up lines did Edwardian men use?
I don't know much about dating,i never been on one before,so i'm very interested about this topic.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I know nothing about early 20th Century dating, Alyson, contrary to what some people might imply (stop laughing, Bob). But I'm sure they mostly didn't 'date' as we'd understand it. Girls were chaperoned, often by maiden aunts or children, and young men had to ask permission of parents to marry their daughters - well, in the middle / upper classes at least. At balls, young ladies had dance cards, on which they wrote the names of the partners who'd requested a dance - it was all very formal. So, I doubt that 'pick-up' lines came into it much.

Men use pick-up lines in situations where they don't know the women, but in society they did usually know each other, or at least know a great deal about each other's circumstances (wealth, position etc.). And, even in the working classes, Edwardians usually courted people they knew. And, I suspect, this was the general rule until surprisingly late - maybe the 1950s. Of course, there were always exceptions.

I'm guessing here to some extent, but one of my grandmothers once made an interesting remark to me. She told me she'd married my grandfather 'to get rid of him'. She didn't mean it harshly, as she grew fond of him and respected him. But she was under such pressure to marry him from her brothers (his friends) and her own mother (his landlady), that it seemed the simplest solution to stop the pestering. That would have been in about 1907. They weren't 'society' people of course.
 
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Alyson Jones

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Now i'm getting the piture how people lived back in the early 1900.So that's how they dated.It seems to me that young women have it a bit easier than todays young women have it.
It seems to be way different from now, i would bperrfer to date how they dated,it sounds much better than now.These days people find there parnters on the internet,there's no courting or anything at all.
lol funnie about you're g/mother trying to get rid of you're g/father.
 
May 27, 2007
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I think couples went roller skating or to the Flickers (Early Silent Film) or to see a Vaudeville Show, Theater. A lot of it is the same stuff people do now. Dancing was probably popular.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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The word "date" as we use it today is, from memory, first recorded in the 1890s (I'll look up the reference later), but it may have come into use earlier.

Courtship rituals were changing by the Edwardian period. One of the most significant factors to impact on the practices was the widespread popularity of the bicycle. This allowed young people mobility - often without chaperones. Reading correspondence from the era you get a sense of the newfound liberties in romantic connections. With the introduction of cheap cars - and cheap enclosed cars at that - in the 1920s, dates became more private still.

While there were still, at least nominally, restrictions on at least middle class young couples spending time alone in each others' company, young people frequently seemed to get around these issues.

I don't think "pick up lines" as we know them today would have been all that popular with your average girl. In 1918, Zelda Sayre (considered a bit on the wild side by her contemporaries) rebuffed F Scott Fitzgerald's initial attempt to approach her with "I don't make late dates with fast workers". An introduction through a mutual acquaintance would be the usual way to go about approaching a girl, although there were other, less formal ways to go about striking up an acquaintance.
 
May 27, 2007
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Howdy Inger and Alyson,
"I don't make late dates with fast workers!"
That sounds like the Zelda we know and love.

Of course folks like to cut a rug back in the day. Dancin' always been popular.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
Inger-Is that how James Moody would of dated back then?

George-How did they dance like Ballroom Dancing?
 
May 27, 2007
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George-How did they dance like Ballroom Dancing?
Yeah there was a lot of that and some other types of dancing. Reels were popular in the here in the States and the Tango was starting to make a splash. A lot of Waltz's were popular which is basically Ballroom.
 
May 1, 2004
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Two very amusing memoirs by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey : "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Belles on Their Toes". Among the various incidents of life with 10 - 11 siblings and 2 motion study expert parents are how Ernestine and her older sister Anne managed to smoke and date in the early 1920's, and their mother's recollection of how dating was in her day. (The early 1900's if Frank Jrs. birth in 1911 is any indication. He was a middle child: no. 5 or 6 in the family.) Probably exaggerated, but I bet not much.
 
May 1, 2004
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There were also the ragtime dances: foxtrot, turkey trot, Lambeth walk, Castle walk. I don't know about the bunny hug. Irene Castle and her husband Vernon were dancing stars before World War I. Probably during it too. Vernon died, or was killed in the war, in 1918.
 
May 27, 2007
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Thanks, Marilyn,
There were also the ragtime dances: foxtrot, turkey trot, Lambeth walk, Castle walk.
Shoot I forgot all about Ragtime. I remembered the Castles though but forgot what styles they danced. Irene made some movies back in the late teens and maybe into the early twenties.
 
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Alyson Jones

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Hi Marilyn

>>Irene Castle and her husband Vernon were dancing stars before World War I.<<

If there was dancing back in those days,which i do believe you-
How come there was no dancing floor on The Olympic and Titanic?
 
Jul 9, 2004
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Heck. People have been dancing since people either evolved or were put on this earth by whoever. So dancing in 1900 shouldn't come as any surprise.


Have a look - Here's Edison's 1897 film Charity Ball. This would be considered an 'exhibition dance' Skirts would be a bit longer on the woman too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeYBNkRoIpo


So yeah. Dancing.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
Nice piece of film input!
My interests on this thread is that-Did James Moody ever dance and did he date and court?
 

Athlen

Member
Apr 14, 2012
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There are some period etiquette books and specific guides for gentlemen and ladies on the Internet Archive, archive.org.
There was a quite structured system of courtship and there was certainly much less left up to the couple. It almost was more a matter of one of the interested parties having their family organize for both person to be present at an event. In some ways the process was slower, in that you were only supposed to meet with chaperones present and you couldn't be alone together or choose to spend a lot of time together.
But in some ways -- that one really important way -- it was shorter. One book had a chapter "Should a Courtship be Short or Long?", and they mean weeks or months.

The general idea is that all courtships either end in marriage or they don't, and if the gentleman thinks he and the young lady could get along together then he should propose marriage (with the father's permission). There are even sample letters asking for a man's daughter's hand in marriage, and you did have to argue that you made enough money to support her.

Working class people (that is, most people) probably dated a little less formally but the road from first date to marriage was still much shorter than now.

This isn't precisely the right place but I'll mention that there were no diamond engagement rings, only the simple gold wedding band. The idea of diamond engagement rings was thought up (by the diamond manufacturers) well after the Edwardian era.
 

Jake Peterson

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Mar 11, 2012
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I would like to point out that until recently (say, 1960's forward, exceptions included) most people who where married were from the same or local communities around a 5-10 mile radius. I mean, if you ask your grandparents, or great grandparents, for the most part, they got together because they already knew each other from school, or had siblings or friends that knew each other that were responsible for their meeting. I know in a local 1982 centennial book for one of the surrounding counties, my grandmother submitted an article for the family history sections, in which she states she and her husband met at a local dance, while she was in the 10th grade (1948-1949ish)