(one's) dance card is full

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(one's) dance card is full

One's schedule is full; one does not have time to do something or be with someone. A reference to a list that women used to make of the men with whom they intended to dance at a ball, gala, or similar formal dance. Sorry, my dance card is full this weekend. Why don't we try meeting up the following week? Our kids' dance cards are so full of classes, sports, and extracurricular activities these days that they simply don't have time to hang out idly with their friends.
See also: card, dance, full
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dance card is full, my

I don’t have time for you, my schedule is full. The practice of women using a card to list their prospective partners at a formal dance dates from the early 1800s. Nevertheless, although the practice is just about obsolete, the expression persists. In 2010 an online journal Gawker used the headline: “The Dance-Card Problem, College Girls Outnumber College Guys.” And in colloquial speech, “I can’t make it Saturday or any other time this spring; my dance card is full.”
See also: card, dance
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
References in periodicals archive ?
"Before you start a new task, remember that your dance card is full. You are already overwhelmed with work.
I didn't want to start principal roles when I was 32." A series of injuries to his calf and foot sidelined Vilanoba for extended periods, but with another Sylvia [by Mark Morris], a new Possokhov ballet, and Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto and The Four Temperaments, his dance card is full this year.