The minuet, commonly known as "the Queen of Dances," was the first dance in 17th-century France. It is thought to have been introduced by Jean de Bueil, II lord of Breteuil, who served as ambassador to the court of King Louis XIII from 1631 to 1636.
The dance was popularized through the efforts of François Ier, who was both king of France and head of the royal family in 1615. He introduced the dance into France as part of his effort to make his country's courts the most fashionable in Europe. The dance was a great success with the public because it was different from other dances of its time which were based on war games or hunting activities.
In England the same dance was introduced by King Charles I at a party given in honor of his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, when she visited London in 1660. She had a special liking for this dance which later became very popular in England too. It is said that she learned it from her French husband, who had brought the idea back from his post as an ambassador to France.
In America the two countries' versions of the minuet are quite different.
The introduction of Dance The Minuet in 1650 France was a watershed moment in the history of ballroom dancing. Adopted and performed in public by King Louis XIV, this dance promoted ballroom dancing throughout France and was used in European ballrooms until the end of the 18th century.
Before this time, French court dancers were allowed to perform only one dance at a time. It was not appropriate for them to flirt with their partners or touch them in any way during a dance. This rule was put in place to preserve respect for women, since it was believed that if they were allowed to touch their partners, they would be tempted to love them. However, the fact that these dances were presented in public without music must have made them very seductive! Of course, today we know this wasn't true, but back then it was considered proper etiquette.
In England, people started to dance more frequently and publicly in large rooms called "dance houses" around 1730. These rooms were usually owned by taverns or pubs who would rent them out every evening at a cost of 1 shilling ($5 in today's money) per night. Guests could come to these rooms to dance without being accompanied by someone from the same family or group. So, mixed-sex groups of friends could go together to dance at no additional charge.
Jehan Thoinot d'Arbeau's Orchesographie (1588), which described 16th-century French social dance, was the earliest documented authority on early ballroom dancing. Jean-Baptiste Lully brought the Minuet to Paris in 1650, and it dominated ballrooms until the end of the 18th century.
During this time, other countries began to embrace dance as a means of entertainment. England had come out of the Middle Ages and into the Enlightenment with a new interest in learning and enjoying music. Ballroom dancing was not exclusive to those who could afford clothing made from silk or velvet; it was enjoyed by everyone. The aristocracy may have had more opportunity to learn these dances because they needed something to do while their guests were talking with each other instead of being entertained by musicians, but that doesn't mean that all English people didn't enjoy them.
In America, French immigrants brought their love for dancing with them from France. As soon as there was a large population of people living in one area, people started creating dances that would use up all the hours of daylight while still having fun. In fact, some American folk dances like the Polka are based off foreign dances that were popular in Europe before they became part of the art form we know today in America.
For example, the Tango is believed to have originated in Argentina as a combination of Spanish footwork and African rhythmical movements.