In 1880, Lucien O. Carpenter released the Universal Dancing Master, which includes a section on ettiquete for the dance floor as well as on the street. Some choice selections from VictorianWeb.org:
- A lady or gentleman should finish their toilet before entering the room for dancing, as it is indecorous in either to be drawing on their gloves, or brushing their hair. Finish your toilet in the dressing rooms.
- Always recognize the lady or gentleman, or the director of ceremonies with becoming politeness: a salute or bow is sufficient.
- A lady should always have an easy, becoming and graceful movement while engaged in a quadrille or promenade. It is more pleasing to the gentleman.
- A lady should never engage herself for more than the following set, unless by the consent of the gentleman who accompanies her. It is very impolite and insulting in either lady or gentleman while dancing in quadrille, to mar the pleasure of others by galloping around or inside the next set.
- If a gentleman, without proper introduction, should ask a lady with whom he is not acquainted to dance or promenade, the lady should positively refuse.
- Recollect, the desire of imparting pleasure, especially to the ladies, is one of the essential qualifications of a gentleman.
- Ladies should not be too hasty in filling their program on their entrance to the ball room, as they may have cause for regret should a friend happen to enter.
- An introduction in a public ball room must be understood by the gentleman to be for that evening only, after which the acquaintanceship ceases, unless the lady chooses to recognize it at any further time or place.
- A lady should not attend a public ball without an escort, nor should she promenade the ball room alone; in fact, no lady should be left unattended.
If you want a Steampunk example of just how much manners mattered in Victorian England, then read the inestimable Gail Carriger's Soulless and Changeless or George Mann's The Affinity Bridge. Carriger and Mann both whack the nail squarely on the head (hit the ball out of the park, oil the proper cogs, etc) in their descriptions of Victorian manners. The long lists of manners extant from this period is also why the Comedy of Manners genre exists. There are so many rules for social interaction that if someone is following two different sets of rules, then one is almost certainly going to slip up (I have no idea why I used the word "one" there).
Reading up on this has made me wonder -- how much has what qualifies as "good manners" changed from the Victorian period to today? Or is there really any change in what's considered polite, except for the situations being altered?