Sing Key, Samantha. "Aristocratic Pretension in Republican Ballrooms: Dance, Etiquette, and Identity in Washington City, 1804." Early American Studies 16, no. 3 (Summer 2018): 460-488.
For late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century elite men and women, balls were the pinnacle of social occasions and a highlight of each social season. In the early years of Washington, D.C., balls became a stage for elite society to wrestle with the question of defining an American identity that served the republican values of the new nation. Focusing on one incident at a ball in 1804, this essay explores how Washington’s early elite society used the dances, deportment, and etiquette of a ball to display a civility that added legitimacy to the new seat of federal government. Paradoxically, Washington elites also used the same dances and balletiquette to differentiate their republican society from its aristocratic European counterparts and, in so doing, established a new identity of American gentility.