a dance card

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a dance card

A list that women used to make of the men with whom they intended to dance at a ball, gala, or similar formal dance. A: "I can't remember the name of that charming fellow I danced with at the end of the night." B: "Didn't you write it on your dance card?"
See also: card, dance
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dance card

A list of dance partners. Although the youth of today may find it hard to believe, there was a time when couples that went to a party or a dance danced with other people. This was especially true at proms, cotillions, and balls. In order for a woman, and not just the belle of the ball, to keep track of her partners, she entered their names on a dance card, a small booklet issued by the event's organizers that was attached to the wrist or dress with a thin cord. It was then up to the gentlemen to remember their partners for the evening (men often kept their own lists). As a marginally polite but pointed way to brush someone off, you might smile and say, “I'd love to, but my dance card is filled."
See also: card, dance
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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