Mary Kenny: after the ball was over
How the mating game changed over the years...
January was once, almost officially, courtship month in Ireland. Back in the mists of time - the 1950s, when my older sister was a lass - there was an event called "the dress dance".
The "dress dance" was as crucial to Irish middle-class life as Mardi Gras is to Brazil. Turn back the pages of any social magazine - say, the Irish Tatler and Sketch - and you will be regaled by photographic visions of "the dress dance". Ladies in ballgowns and chaps in penguin suits seen at these formal revelries, always in January. It was considered terribly progressive when women started to wear strapless frocks, held up, it was said "by willpower".
Some of those attending these occasions were, admittedly, already married. Couples were encouraged to participate, and businesses and corporations thought it helped lift working morale to host a dress dance. But it was evidently a mating ritual, to which you might take a putative sweetheart, or you might meet one.