Victorian afternoon tea soirees September 11 2015
For the Victorians, the afternoon tea party was an absolutely crucial part of social life. Ladies called on their friends to attend small intimate gatherings in their drawing rooms, with four or five guests for intimate teas. They would catch up on the latest gossip, sip tea, maybe even be daring enough to take a nip of sherry, and nibble on dainty sandwiches of egg and cress, cucumber, with the crusts removed of course.
Or there were the grander versions held in the vast homes of the idle rich, with large groups of people, waited on by the servants with entertainment, sometimes a piano or violin recital, a poetry reading, a performance by an opera singer, or even card playing. (Think Downton Abbey).
Then it might develop into "dancing on the carpet" as it was deemed then, with the phonograph providing scratchy music for the folks to let off steam (and excess sherry).