Songbook - The Richmond Assemblies, 1790-1797
The Richmond Assemblies were founded soon after the seat of Virginia's government moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780. Government officials, lawyers and other professional, crowded into the town. Social events like balls and celebrations helped the newcomers meet and blend with the local gentry and their families. By 1783 a group of Richmond gentlemen had decided to share, the expenses of a series of dancing parties. Admission to the group was by invitation--only the elite of town, could hope to attend and through the assemblies make contacts, meet prospective spouses, gain business, and increase their visibility in the community. Minor merchants, tradesmen, and apprentices were not welcome at the Assemblies. They had to satisfy themselves with public dances at local taverns where they could meet women and enjoy more informal social interactions.
As with any group, ground rules were needed and the rules for the Richmond Assemblies for 1790 were printed before the season began so they could be circulated among the members once the opening date was decided upon. More rules were added in 1797 and the scribe of these rules folded into them two more pieces of paper with fourteen country dances written on them.
In this book the Assembly rules are discussed and the 1797 dances have been reconstructed for today's dancers to enjoy.