Dansants a Glace: Ice-Teas At The Hippodrome

In the mid 1910's, a unique skating craze became all of the rage among members of New York City's high society. Irving and Lucille Brokaw, who were at the forefront of the New York skating scene of the time, took it upon themselves to rent the Hippodrome Theater from Charles Dillingham and throw lavish afternoon skating parties on its icy stage called Dansants a Glace or alternately, Ice-Teas. These small, very exclusive affairs would have catered to the most affluent skaters at the St. Nicholas Rink and would have been a welcome alternative to regular skating sessions which sometimes packed the ice with up to eight hundred people at a time.

Left: Irving Brokaw and his wife Lucille; Right: Irving Brokaw and ice dance partner Hala Kosloff

The Sunday, December 12, 1915 edition of the "Richmond Times-Dispatcher" tells us that "on these occasions, the guests of the Brokaw's to the number of about 100 participated in the general ice-dancing and were then entertained by Mr. Brokaw, probably the most accomplished amateur figure-skater in the world, Lawrence Waterbury, of polo fame, and Raynham Townshend, of New Haven, who gave a special exhibition of fancy-skating, their partners being the famous Hippodrome professionals Charlotte, Katy Schmidt and Ellen Dallerup. A large contingent of Boston society folk were present, bringing with them Mr .and Mrs. Muller, the German professional skaters, who have been engaged by the Boston Skating Club to teach Back Bay folk the new accomplishment. The New York guests included Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont. Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Harrinian. Mr. and Mrs. Elbert H. Gary. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Scott Burden, Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt, Mrs. Barger-Wallach, Mr. Foxhall P. Keene, and a host of others equally prominent in social circles." Much in the style of Hyacinth Bucket's 'candlelight suppers', tea and light refreshments were served.

These dansants a glace or 'iced-teas' caught on not only in New York and at the skating resorts of Switzerland but at the Chateau Frontenac on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, where tea tables were actually set up on the ice in front of the hotel. Guests skated to their tables, where they enjoyed tea, toast, jam and cakes served by skating waiters. They skated figure eights amidst the tables afterwards, perhaps nibbling on a scone as they looked for a clean patch. I don't know about you but as far as I'm concerned, this sounds like a delightful way to spend an afternoon!  

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