"Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball."
Dancing. An occasion for gathering and celebrating. Also for gossip, intrigue, and romance. Often occurs at other celebrations, such as a feast.
The terms tend to be "balls" for Blue Blood and Royal Blood guests (expect Gorgeous Period Dress and Ermine Cape Effect, and certainly Pimped Out Dresses, as balls would be occasions when they pulled out the stops), and "dances" for more common sorts of folk.
Straitlaced members of society may disapprove of the frivolity, particularly if serious things are going on. And when these serious things are war, famine, pestilence, and the like, they don't have to be very straitlaced.
Quite often in a story, Dances and Balls will be used as an opportunity to show that a Beautiful All Along girl (sometimes, but less common, guy) cleans up nicely (to the amazement of fellow protagonists). Other times, it will be used to show that the protagonist (particularly if it's a male lead) is virtuous and cannot understand the snooty ways of aristocrats. Expect a scene where he says he hates dancing or just plain can't dance (Though if he can get into it, he will find he really can dance.) If a character is a Fake Aristocrat this will be the ultimate test of their facade.
Super-Trope of High-School Dance, Dance of Romance, Masquerade Ball, and Let's Have a Cèilidh. In an action series, expect a Ballroom Blitz. Compare Dance Line (if people who were just watching are drawn in), At the Opera Tonight.
- In King of Bandit Jing, there is an arc called "The Masquerade Ball of Zaza." It turns out it's not actually a ball with dancing, but a huge coliseum tournament. However, after Jing manages to steal the object he wants and have the Queen realize the error of her ways, it ends up reverting to being a normal ball. Funnily enough, the beautiful Girl of the Week isn't shown dancing because she's saving her first dance for Jing.
- It's renamed the "Mas Corrida" which amounts to "Bullfight With People Instead of Bulls". With a lip service story about why the Masquerades turned into a brutal fighting tournament. In a rather nice moment of storytelling, Jing and the Girl of the Week actually fight in the finals of the tournament, and it degenerates into something resembling a dance.
- Relena's birthday party in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing featured a ball where she danced with Heero and talked to him about his motives. Then the mechs arrived to assassinate her and the evening kind of went downhill from there.
- In Descendants of Darkness, while Tsuzuki and Hisoka go undercover to solve a mystery on a cruise, there's a section where the cruise has a dance and ball (complete with a scene of Hisoka dancing with the local Ojou Tsubaki who was actually an undead Ill Girl of sorts and one of Muraki's victims).
- In Victorian Romance Emma, Emma is convinced to attend one, and is shown to clean up nicely. The only problem is that she's pretty much blind without her glasses, but since she looks much better in the dress without them, she's told to put up with it.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena has one, which includes a subplot with a water-soluble dress and enough Les Yay to make men ovulate and females have hard-ons. It also doubles as an invitation to throw all everyday logic out of the window, if the previous episodes hadn't already convinced you to do so, with massive epaulets hidden under a shoulderless dress, and a functional outfit made from a tablecloth in a matter of seconds.
- In Boys over Flowers, Tsukushi Makino goes on a cruise vacation with the rest of her rich, aristocratic classmates. On the cruise, there's a dance ball. This ball allowed her the opportunity of showing that She Cleans Up Nicely, making the spoiled, Lonely Rich Kid Tsukasa fall harder for her.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, the club hosts a dance party with a surprise that the chosen Queen gets to receive a kiss from the King (which ends up being Haruhi). After playing matchmaker by putting Tooru and Kanako together and allowing them to have a beautiful waltz, Haruhi ends up accidentally losing her Sacred First Kiss to Kanako while dancing with her. A very drama-filled Dance Ball indeed.
- In the world of Berserk, the only way for the aristocracy to deal with the constant war, turmoil, and bloodshed that they put their citizens and troops through is to hold pimped-out balls for themselves, even if they all end on a horrible note:
- First, the King of Midland holds a ball for Princess Charlotte to which Griffith is invited to. Later that evening, it was announced that Duke Julius and his son were assassinated by a plot that Griffith orchestrated. He was pleased with the news, to say the least. Very pleased.
- Later, the King holds a dance ball for the Band of Hawk after their victory. All the members of the Band of Hawk dress fancily as nobles. Both Caska and Guts are shown to be extremely uncomfortable at such fancy social events (especially while wearing such frilly and expensive clothing instead of armor). For Caska, however, the series made it clear that She Cleans Up Nicely, despite her b. (And Guts' reaction makes it even better). Oh, and then a botched assassination attempt happened on Griffith by the Queen and her mooks. Don't worry, Griffith is alive and well in order to burn the Queen and her mooks alive with the help of another mook who he had blackmailed into helping him.
- A few volumes later, Farnese is shown attending a ball that her rich, aristocratic father hosts. There she dances with her fiancee, Roderick. Of course, true to Berserk fashion, the party ends with huge amounts of violence and bloodshed via demonic tigers and soldiers from Kushan. What better way to end a grand evening in the Berserkerverse?
- In Snow White with the Red Hair, Shirayuki is invited to a ball in Tanbarun by prince Raji who thought it would be safe to invite her since there was no way she'd come. At the time she, Zen, and Izana all knew that someone they couldn't find was looking to kidnap her so she ended up being sent anyway to get her away from her potential kidnapper in Clarines. She doesn't get to attend the ball anyway as she is kidnapped right before it starts. It's later revealed Mitsuhide and Kiki met at a ball when she went to the same shadowed alcove to avoid the other nobles as Mitsuhide was already hiding in. Mitsuhide actually gives hiding as advice for what to do at formal royal gatherings of all kinds even if he can no longer get away with it due to his position. He is noticeably uncomfortable whenever he has to attend one.
- In Gankutsuou, while Franz and Albert were visiting the Carnival on Luna, Franz was shown attending a ball and dancing with the Marchioness. Of course, he has a really hard time enjoying the ball when the aristocrats there warn him that Albert, being out alone at night, is probably going to get mugged and beaten up (which is exactly what happened, plus getting kidnapped).
- In Blood+, Saya attends a ball in her Vietnam school, borrowing a dress from her friend. Being an Action Girl, she feels uncomfortable wearing fancy clothes like that and is far more interested in the roasted chicken than in dancing. the Alpha Bitch stops by and decides to drop a few insults about how outdated her dress is, but of course, Solomon invites her for his only dance.
- In the Black Cat manga, Train is duped by Rinslet into pretending to be her lover so that she can attend Madame Freesia's Birthday Ball. Train, being The Hero, loathes fancy events like that and dancing. So although Rinslet wanted to spend more romantic time with Train at the ball, he ends up instead running off to fight and capture a bounty.
- In Black Butler, since Ciel is part of an aristocratic society (being a Blue Blood and all), he attends many balls. One particular instance that stands out is when he not only has to attend a dance ball but must crossdress while doing so (complete with an infamouscorsettightening scene). And he must avoid his fiancee Elizabeth from noticing lest he be humiliated. Hilarity Ensues.
- Surprisingly averted after that, though, as the artist's assistants lampshade and lament in the authors' notes of vol. 21.
- In Classi9, the composers are frequently invited to dinner parties and balls. It is a great occasion to show off their skills or just play with a fellow musician, like Liszt, Chopin, and Schumann. The school festival also ends with a dance party.
- Code Geass: The Sino-Britannian pre-wedding party is just such an example, complete with plenty of drama, starting when Zero & Co. crash the party, and ending with no less than an assassination attempt on him. With plenty of chess in between. And the day after, he does it again, because Lelouch can't do anything in moderation.
- A few episodes before that, one is briefly shown as part of a school festival.
- The "hero doesn't like snooty aristocrats" version shows up in Code Geass: Akito the Exiled, sort of - Akito is a pile of angst, and it's debatable whether or not the show takes him seriously, or if he really should lighten up. But there definitely is a ball.
- In D.Gray-Man, although Allen and the protagonists are never shown attending one, the Noah are (and a fancy one at that). Tyki is shown dancing with a young noblewoman (who seems to have a crush on him), and as Sherill puts it, "is the star - everyone is courting him."
- At the end of the sixth episode in the first season of the anime The Familiar of Zero the magic academy holds a ball and Louise (wearing a fancy dress) dances with Saito. (Saito's the only one at the ball who isn't dressed up nicely.)
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi has a HUGE ball in the Magical World, where Negi and Co. are invited by Governor Godel. It turns out to be very plot-important, as well as being filled with requisite amounts of Ship Tease.
- PandoraHearts has a fondness for balls that end...badly. The ball for Oz's coming of age ceremony at the very beginning of the series ends up with the Baskervilles attacking and Oz getting thrown into the Abyss. The next major ball we see occurs during the Isla Yura arc in his manor. It begins with beautiful clothes, sparkles, and humorous encounters. It ends with blood, fire, torture, brainwashing, and death.
- The Rose of Versailles has many important events take place at balls, including the first meeting between Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen. They also showcase the extravagance of the French royal family.
- In Yuu Watase's manga Sakura Gari, Souma brings Masataka to an aristocratic dance ball. It's used as an opportunity to show how Masataka, being a down-to-earth commoner, is unable to dance and feels uncomfortable and out of place in such a fancy party. And although it's shown that He Cleans Up Nicely, the Alpha Bitch Kanako takes it upon herself to "put him in his place" — which results in Souma dancing with Masataka instead.
- Not to mention, when a stuck-up aristocrat starts bitching at Souma, Masataka jumps in to call him out on his crap. Katsuragi and Souma are shocked, but they support him in the end. Ironic, considering that the apparent Pet the Dog moment from Katsuragi is just a Red Herring to conceal how much of a Yandere for Souma he is.
- Honoo no Alpen Rose has a ball in Count Germont's castle, which Jeudi is forced to attend since she has been forcibly taken in by the Count himself. It turns out to be very plot-important since the fact that Jeudi can waltz her way through the dancefloor despite being thought of as a mere prospect maid/mistress hints that she's got quite the Mysterious Past... and said dance also triggers one of her earliest memories.
- Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics adapted stories like Cinderella, Twelve Dancing Princesses and All Kinds of Furs/Coat of Many Colors, and logically it includes the balls that are vital to the plot.
- Wonder Woman:
- Back in the Golden Age Di, Steve, and the Holliday Girls attended a number of dances—at least one being a Masquerade Ball—hosted by villains in order to scope out the enemy. Somehow they always devolve into a brawl no matter how fancily everyone is dressed.
- The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Diana and the Holliday Girls attend a charity dance in France after D-Day, where the Girls are one of the musical groups performing and Diana and Steve get a relationship upgrade.
- The Ultimates: The victory against the Chitauri is celebrated with a gala at the White House. All the Ultimates attend it, except Thor, who is anti-imperialist. Captain America and the Wasp had a Dance of Romance.
- In "Cinderella", the king holds a ball (or three, in the Grimm version) so that his son may meet eligible women.
- In Grimms' "The True Sweetheart", the true sweetheart goes to the festivities celebrating her prince's marriage to someone else, and despite his inability to remember her, he dances with her. The third time, she is able to break the spell on him.
- In "Catskin", the heroine, having escaped an Arranged Marriage, works in a menial position at the castle, but she dresses up for the ball and wins the prince's heart.
- In "The Bear", the princess had changed herself into a bear to escape her Overprotective Dad, but she changes into her own form for a ball.
- In The Brothers Grimm's "All Kinds Of Fur", the heroine, having escaped a marriage with her own father, works in a menial position at the castle, but when there is a feast, she dresses up and shows herself, and the prince insists on dancing with her.
- In "Cap o' Rushes", the heroine is driven out by her father and takes a menial job, but dresses up for a dance and wins the master's son.
- In Joseph Jacobs's "Tattercoats", the king holds a ball so that his son will meet eligible women. Unusually, he meets Tattercoats en route to the ball and tells her to come to show that he will really marry her. She comes in all her rags, and the prince declares that he wants to marry her while she is still dressed in them.
- In Grimms' "The Twelve Dancing Princesses", the twelve princesses would sneak out in the middle of the night and go with twelve princes to a special castle where they would dance the whole night. The King was perplexed as to why all his daughter's shoes would be worn out after every night.
- In "Kate Crackernuts", Kate discovers that the sick prince is being forced by The Fair Folk to ride to their hill and dance to exhaustion every night; she rescues him.
- The Fair Folk's dances are very, very, very dangerous. Mortals who see them are often caught up in the dancing and are unable to stop. The lucky ones don't crumble into dust when it finally ends. One folk explanation of tuberculosis was that its victims were forced to dance every night at the fairy hills, and wasted away for the lack of sleep.
- In The Flower Queen's Daughter, the dragons have a dance. Which the hero and the captive princess attend.
- As noted in the Literature tab, the Yule Ball is a popular plot point for Harry Potter fanfic writers, who tend to treat it as an annual event rather than a one-off, and use it as a base for a Dance of Romance or something similar.
- The sequel of Child of the Storm includes the Yule Ball, with Harry and Carol going together, with Harry having also arranged Diana's attendance as a Shipper on Deck for her and Ginny. The results are largely very sweet, and quite funny, with Harry and Carol at one point dancing the Mambo, which Harry learned from Bucky Barnes. The Mambo, by the way (yes, as in 'Mambo Number 5'), is a more restrained relative of the famous Tango. Word of God is that he was going for a little sexy rather than overtly sexual, the way the Tango is, as the latter carries a high Squick factor when writing about teens, to the surprise of more than a few present (it's not traditional ballroom dancing, but it's not typical modern dancing either).
- Much as in the game, the Inquisitor attends one of these in Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, where she has what is commonly interpreted (correctly or not) as a Dance of Romance with just one partner.
- A staple in Barbie movies:
- The climax of Barbie as Rapunzel happens on the night of the prince's masquerade ball.
- Barbie of Swan Lake: As in the original ballet, the Prince and Odile dance the fateful Black Swan pas de deux at his ball.
- Midway through Barbie as the Island Princess, Ro attends Antonio and Luciana's engagement ball, where she gets her requisite Pimped-Out Dress.
- The final showdown against Evil Chancellor Phillippe in Barbie and the Three Musketeers happens on the night of the royal ball.
- The final act of Barbie: Princess Charm School is set at the coronation ball for Gardania's next princess.
- Barbie in the Pink Shoes: Again, Barbie recreates the ballroom scene from Swan Lake, but this time, turns it into a pas de trois when Odette arrives at the ball while Odile is trying to seduce the prince.
- Barbie: The Pearl Princess features an undersea ball in the mermaid realm.
- Barbie and the Secret Door: Princess Alexa returns to home just in time for a ball. After dancing classically for a bit, she turns it into a twenty-first-century Dance Party Ending.
- Disney's Beauty and the Beast had one with only two participants. (Yes, it does make sense and is visually impressive... but it's a few steps above showing off.) Of course, the Beast has his own, personal ballroom, so yeah...
- Disney's adaptation of Cinderella had one, of course, as it was part of the original fairy tale. Cinderella has to plan another one in the direct-to-DVD sequel Cinderella II.
- In Anastasia, Rasputin curses the royal family during a ball to celebrate the Romanovs' multiple centuries of rule over Russia. It works, because shortly afterwards not-Lenin and the not-Bolsheviks raid the palace and Anastasia barely makes it out of there.
- In The Princess and the Frog, most of the action kicks off at Charlotte's Mardi Gras costume party. It even includes a parody of the Cinderella dance, when Naveen or rather, Lawrence disguised as Naveen shows up and has a romantic dance with Charlotte. He plays it completely seriously, however Charlotte is...rather excited.
- In Jezebel, rebellious Julie's decision to wear a red dress to the Olympus Ball instead of the white that is required of unwed maidens leads to her breakup with Pres.
- Almost any film about high society in any period of history, particularly an era known for its Gorgeous Period Dress, will have at least one scene set at a ball or other grand party. Movies based on the novels of Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, or Henry James will almost certainly have a Dances And Balls scene, for example.
- Amadeus opens up with a complete Big-Lipped Alligator Moment one, as scenes of a wounded Salieri being hauled to the asylum are intercut with scenes of a ball, solely to show off Scenery and Costume Porn.
- In the fourth Harry Potter film, there's the huge Yule Ball, with pretty much everyone dancing. One of the highlights of the event was the opportunity to show Hermione looking unusually beautiful when she tries. Mind you, this is taken straight from the book.
- In Enchanted, being a sort of parody on Fairy Tales, it has a dramatic and grand Dance Ball near the end. It's complete with Giselle looking stunning in her dress and Robert showing that, although he doesn't like dancing, he actually can.
- In Labyrinth, there's the rather famous Masquerade Ballroom dance scene between Sarah and Jareth.
- In Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, the title character, her husband, and her two favorite ladies sneak out of Versailles to attend a Masquerade Ball in Paris.
- In Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), Alice is forced to do a rather boring ballroom dance, the quadrille, at what is eventually revealed to be her engagement party.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the cheerleaders have to plan a dance inspired by a real-world problem; they dub it the "Hug the World" dance, about the environment, and it's where the vampires attack a large percentage of the student body. The clueless principal ends the dance by handing out detention slips to people who are dead.
- Even more hilariously, the vampires are only able to get in because they were invited. After all, they are seniors!
- Fort Apache has two dances, one in honour of Washington's birthday, the other hosted by the NCOs of the fort.
- Waterloo: The Duchess of Richmond's ball on the eve of hostilities.
- Mona Lisa Smile, being set in a university milieu, has a college dance scene.
- The Leopard is a three-hour film but the full final hour is nothing but an extended ball sequence, with period-accurate dances, Gorgeous Period Dress, incredible interiors, and a never-before-heard composition of Verdi used in the film for the first time.
- The Back to the Future trilogy:
- The "rhythmic ceremonial ritual" from Back to the Future; also a High-School Dance, one where Marty's parents are supposed to fall in love. Actually getting them to that point after Marty accidentally prevents their first meeting is the plot of most of the film.
- There's also the dance at the party to celebrate the building of the Clock Tower in Back to the Future Part III, where Marty discovers that Doc can dance.
- The New Year's ball at the end of Radio Days.
- The ending of The Princess Diaries takes place at one.
- The tension in the family comes to a head during one when Lilli enters looking almost exactly like her mother in Snow White A Taleof Terror.
- Anthony Adverse finds his long-lost wife Angela at a masked ball being given for Napoléon Bonaparte.
- The whimsically named "Gangsters' Ball" in The Musketeers of Pig Alley, where Lillian Gish's friend basically drags her. The friend has fun dancing with a hoodlum, but Gish's character narrowly escapes getting drugged and raped by a gangster.
- In Gunless, the Mounties hold a dance at the fort to celebrate the arrival of the new recruits, and invite the local citizens to attend. This gives both Sean and Corporal Kent the opportunity to display their romantic interest in Jane, and also to demonstrate their Nice Guy credentials: when Jane arrives with Sean, Kent insists that she dance with him as he was the one who brought her, while later Sean pretends that a leg injury he received in a beating that Kent rescued him from is worse than it actually is, and insists that Kent dance with Jane so she will not be disappointed.
- Jane Austen loves this trope: Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey all feature balls very prominently. They're a great place for meeting your future mate. Considering that balls were a staple of upper-class social gatherings in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Britain, this makes a certain amount of sense. Also, a stately couple's dance is a handy way of flirting without crossing the line of propriety. In fact, arguably that is one of their purposes.
- Since many of her novels are set in Austen's period (the English Regency), Georgette Heyer often includes balls in them as well. Examples include:
- In These Old Shades, the Duke of Avon gives a ball to introduce his ward.
- An Infamous Army includes the historical Duchess of Richmond's ball.
- In Friday's Child, important plot events take place at Lady Fakenham's ball.
- In The Grand Sophy, Sophy gives a ball at her aunt and uncle's house for five hundred of her most intimate friends.
- In The Quiet Gentleman, the ball held at Stanyon is important to the plot (and to many of those in the neighborhood).
- In April Lady, the heroine, Nell, gives a ball.
- In Sylvester, a distressing incident occurs when Sylvester dances with Phoebe.
- In Frederica, Alverstoke gives a ball with ulterior motives.
- In Charity Girl, Desford first meets Cherry Steane while attending a ball given by her aunt.
- A Brother's Price has a ball at the royal castle, to which the protagonist and some of his family are invited. Flirting ensues.
- Many significant events happen at balls in War and Peace.
- Gone with the Wind references them often in the early part of the book, with a large number of events occurring at a barbecue.
- The Yule ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The Yule Ball has become a very popular plot point for a lot of fanfiction writers, a good many ignoring the fact that it only is supposed to take place during the Triwizard Event and instead treating it like a wizarding Homecoming/Prom. This provides golden opportunities to put their characters in elaborately-described dresses and have a Dance of Romance, or at least show off their favorite couples.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head, Dalia mulls over what to invite Miranda Beryl to: a ball or a dinner with dancing. Since she arrived because a woman is dying and she will inherit, a ball is shot down as too festive.
- Sadly, this is a relatively underused trope in Discworld, as Lord Vetinari has no balls. In fact, there's a well known song about that...
- In Mistborn, these are such a big deal that their ballrooms' designs are based on real-world cathedrals. Justified in that parties are one of the two things the city nobility does, the other being civil war when the webs of intrigue snap every century or so.
- In Nightlight, the Harvard Lampoon's spoof of Twilight, Belle Goose attends a vampire prom.
- In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the Lobster Quadrille.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, ballroom style dancing makes up a significant portion of the High Vor social scene. The political scene too. Vor know how to scheme in style.
- In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus goes to one after Blackie rouses him, and he feels Alone in a Crowd.
- Annie Moffat's St. Valentines Day Ball in Little Women.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's A Damsel in Distress, a ball is held for Lord Belpher's twenty-first birthday; the guest of honor doesn't dance, and so doesn't dance at it.
- In The Witch Watch, Sir Brook invites Lord Moxley and the other influential noblemen who failed to support him to a dinner and ball. And of all places it's there he chooses to announce his treachery.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Smith of Wootton Major, Smith happens on a vale where many maidens are dancing. Though rebuked for venturing there without leave, he's brought into the dance.
- In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, fairies try to force Annie to dance all night in their ring, though she's exhausted.
- In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, "full of grace" Tuesday was always going to dances. Until she danced herself to death. Nevertheless, they attend Prince Rumbold's ball.
- In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Rosemary And Rue, October contemplates how the fourteen years she lost were nothing to purebloods; they had dances that lasted longer.
- The entire story of "Prince Charming" takes place at a ball. "Deadly dull places are best to distract oneself with a love affair!" as the king says, and the king fervently hopes his irresponsible son will fall in love at the boring ball hes organized expressly for this purpose.
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, Princess Ludorica thinks they will have one, at a point where she thinks she's safe.
- Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey:
- In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, the climax of the story starts at one.
- Gwyneth and Gideon of The Ruby Red Trilogy have to attend a large ball in the 18th century, at the request of Count Saint-Germain. This poses no problem for Gideon, who has been trained since childhood to function discreetly within the historical periods he may need to visit but requires Gwyneth to take crash-course lessons in dance, etiquette, and history to allow her to blend in.
- Sophronia's sister Petunia has a debutante ball thrown in her honor in the The Finishing School Series. Monique also has a debutante ball in the second book.
- Simona Ahrnstedt loves having balls and parties in her novels, where the upper classes can show off their fancy clothes, flirt, and dance.
- In The Witchlands, the Truce Summit concludes with a ball where Safi's and Merik's mutual attraction begins and the story jumps from act one to act two.
- Dances and Balls drive the plot of a few episodes of Our Miss Brooks, as befitting a program whose main setting is Madison High School. Notable examples include "The Yodar Kritch Award" and "Cinderella for a Day".
- In Battlestar Galactica's episode "Colonial Day", there's a celebration with a lot of dancing to celebrate the election of Gaius Baltar to the vice-presidency.
- In The Tudors, there are a lot of Dances And Balls (complete with feasts). Of course, the show is about the palace life and reign of Henry the VIII...
- In Firefly, the episode "Shindig" features Mal going to a fancy ball with Kaylee (since Inara was already going with Atherton Wing). However, in the end, the ones dancing together are Mal and Inara, and Kaylee ends up spending her time discussing machinery with the other gentlemen guests instead. Mind you, she's having a wonderful time.
- In fact, Kaylee tries to play the part of the usual Jane Austen romantic girl at the party. She's promptly belittled by several bitchy girls and is rescued by one of the gentlemen she winds up talking engines with. She winds up enjoying that so much that she ignores a fellow asking her to dance.
- Interestingly, the director's commentary reveals the dancing sequence was originally going to be much longer, with an extended gag of Mal stumbling over the steps of each new dance before announcing that he actually knew this one and have the plot-relevant conversation over the top of it. Due to pacing issues, only this last segment was left in.
- This trope is everywhere on Gossip Girl - the Kiss on the Lips Dance, Snowflake Ball, etc.
- Almost every teen show about high society - Gossip Girl, The O.C., Gilmore Girls, Beverly Hills, 90210 and so forth, feature a Debutante ball, which is always a source for major drama and plot twists (mainly of the romantic kind).
- Lampshaded in the first season of Community. There were so many dances that at the end of the year anyone who attended all of them got a tee-shirt.
- In Enemy at the Door, set in German-occupied territory during World War II, the episode "After the Ball" revolves around a ball held by the Germans in the hope of promoting good relations with the locals (or at least of getting some photos that can be used as propaganda claiming good relations with the locals). It inspires the episode's central character to rebel against her Overprotective Dad and try to have a social life of her own, with what might be charitably described as mixed results.
- In the 2002 miniseries Napoleon there are several. In one while he's an exile on Elba Napoleon Bonaparte learns that Josephine, the love of his life has died.
- Victoria has its fair share of extravagant balls at the royal court, beginning with one in the very first episode to celebrate Victoria's ascension to the throne.
- The beginning of the first episode of the third season of Robin of Sherwood, "Herne's Son Part 1", takes place at a party hosted by the Earl of Huntingdon. It's attended by Marion of Leaford and her father Sir Richard, the Sheriff of Nottingham, his brother, and Sir Guy of Gisburne, as well as Lord Owen of Clunn, the Big Bad of the episode. When Marion dances with the Earl's son Robert (who's about to become the new Robin Hood), there's instant romantic tension; when she dances with Gisburne, it's all icy politeness on her part and thinly veiled insults on his part; with Owen of Clunn, it's clear she'd rather be anywhere else, and he's being a huge creep who clearly wants her and could not care less for how she feels about it.
- T. S. Eliot's "East Coker"
you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
the association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie
A dignified and commodious sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, the ball held in the capital of Maar Sul starts out alright but then things start to get weirder and weirder as it progresses (e.g. the herald suddenly introduces a freaking lion which promptly devours four nearby Scuns, and no one bats an eye). The festivities come to a sudden halt when the Nightstalkers crash the party and start causing havoc.
- In The Gungan Council, there are at least three are hosted each year, and they're usually non-violent.
- The second act of the Lloyd-Webber version of The Phantom of the Opera begins with a massive masquerade ball (which the Phantom, of course, crashes).
- Wicked has two: the dance at the Ozdust Ballroom in act one, and Glinda's engagement ball in act two.
- Aaron Copland's Rodeo includes dances at the end, "Saturday Night Waltz" and "Hoe-Down", at which the romances of the ballet are settled.
- Towards the end of Les Misérables, there's Marius and Cosette's wedding. This has a dance number going on in the background, which is later led to a much more upbeat song by the Thenardiers.
- The Dance at the Gym in West Side Story.
- The Embassy Ball in My Fair Lady.
- In John Milton's Comus, Comus first urges his followers to dance, and then to refrain when someone approaches.
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.
- Many Shakespeare plays tended to have masquerades and balls as a plot device. Several of the comedies also had dance party endings.
- Romeo and Juliet first meet disguised at the Capulet masquerade ball.
- A ball acts as a plot point in Much Ado About Nothing when Hero and Claudio get together and Beatrice continues to insult Benedick. There is also a random pre-wedding dance at the very end after everyone is happy and engaged again.
- Tanz Der Vampire has the Midnight Ball (Mitternachtsball) that Sarah gets invited to.
- The Mrs. Hawking series: An element occurring in two-thirds of the series. For a while, there was one in every episode. A natural fit for the high-class Victorian setting, the gang often attended them on missions or to gather information.
- Part I: Mrs. Hawking had Mrs. Hawking and Mary investigating Lord Brockton at one he held at his home.
- Part II: Vivat Regina opened with the same two finishing up recovering some stolen gems at a ball.
- Part III: Base Instruments has Nathaniel go to interrogate a murder suspect while attending with his wife and brother
- Part IV: Gilded Cages is the first one with no ball of any kind though there is a deleted scene that is set at one.
- Part V: Mrs. Frost brings it back to lay a trap for the villain.
- Part VI: Fallen Women again does not have one.
- One of the more famous cutscenes from Final Fantasy VIII is at the dancing ball where Squall first meets Rinoa. Squall is shown to be extremely reluctant to dance with her and appears to be quite clumsy during the initial parts of the dance, but then gets over it and starts dancing quite skillfully. Later on, he admits to Rinoa that ballroom dancing is taught to SeeD candidates as a potential cover skill, with the implication that his initial clumsiness was mostly nerves, or him trying to get her to leave him alone. Also adds some humor to the scowls he earned from the other SeeD candidates he was bumping into if they knew he could dance.
- In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, we get to go to a mysterious town called Folsense. We then find the diary of the duke of the place. We discover that this duke dude has fallen for a woman he met in a ball, and then voila, later in game we get to see the actual ball itself, albeit in the form of an illusion.
- Dancing is one of the most popular activities in Second Life: a chance to listen to music, show off new avatars and costumes and the like, and chat.
- Subverted twice by Prince Berkut and Lady Rinea in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia:
- Their first scene has them engaging in a Dance of Romance... but they're actually alone on the dance floor, their only companion being Fernand.
- The Memory Prism featuring them happens during a ball... but they're not dancing, instead they're talking on a corner.
- The above-mentioned dances held by The Fair Folk can potentially take place in Princess Maker 2 if a sensitive-enough Daughter goes out to the Forest or the Lake and camps in certain places. She won't waste away, logically, but her Stamina will be lowered and her Art Skill will be raised.
- The Inquisitor and friends attend a masked ball thrown by the Empress of Orlais in Dragon Age: Inquisition. It's actually a peace summit, with the ball being used as cover, but it counts. If the Inquisitor is romancing one of their companions, they can have a Dance of Romance at the end of the quest.
- Girl Genius:
- They do their version of "Cinderella" ... for science!
- There's also Agatha's outburst about her friends wondering which guy she'll end up with.
Agatha: WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU TWO? ARE YOU TWELVE? BOYFRIENDS?! SERIOUSLY?! I've got more important things to worry about! The baron wants me dead! An impostor is trying to take my place! Armies are trying to take over town! The castle is broken and the "Other" is still in my head! Also, I'm very hungry and need a bath! Now, when all that's taken care of, we'll have a great big fancy party, and I'll wear a pretty dress, and I'll dance with all the boys, and everything will be sugar hearts and flowers!
Violetta: This party — can I have a pretty dress too?
Agatha: ... Well of course. Assuming you're still alive.
- The subsequent Queen Albias Court Ball invokes just about every trope listed plus a few more; notably, that Queen Albia (being about as Blue Blooded as it gets) is asked whether SHE will lead when dancing with Male, non-royal partners, and dances with a princess at one point. Zeetha appears in a military outfit (basically, dressed as a Jäger) and surprises Male partners by leading, presumably on the grounds that she is a princess of Skifander
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Bob and Jean attend a royal ball on an alien planet at Princess Voluptua's invitation. Most of the dancers are Nemesite butterfly people and do their dancing in midair. Major plot/character development stuff ensues.
- At the Taurëcuiva Festival in Ears for Elves, there is a dance in the evening. Tanna doesn't want to do anything more than sit at the back, though, and Zalanna is horrified when she turns down a partner. However, Tanna does have to enter the dance floor to get across the hall when fetching wine, and when Luero drags her on. It turns out that she can dance (being effectively a princess), but he... isn't so talented.
- Dubious Company dedicates an entire arc to it. The cast either gets dragged into the intrigue of the royal court or screwing it up with their own vice habits.
- In The Wolf at Weston Court Melfords Masquerade Ball is the focus of the first arc, with many of the central characters planning to sneak in. Elgin promises to aid in Novas efforts in exchange for a dance.
- The climax of Earthsong happens at a ball that Earthsong holds for Willow. The argument it causes beforehand is also significant; while they decide to hold it as a morale booster in spite of the danger from Beluosus, Gwendolyn blows up at the thought of wasting any time on frivolity. Beluosus and his forces attack during the celebration, resulting in several characters being Killed Off for Real. Gwendolyn helps him get in; she is partly mind-controlled, but was particularly susceptible because of her anger and unhappiness.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the royal Equestrian social event of the year, The Grand Galloping Gala, as a plot arc in the first season. All the mane six ponies have their own reasons to attend, but of them, it's Rarity who has the most "fairy tale" plan — to meet a handsome prince. None of them get quite what they wanted out of the event, and it ends in a disaster for most of the guests in attendance, but the girls end up having a good night anyway.
- Sea Princesses: In "The Royal Ball", the princesses are all very disappointed because the night of the Royal Ball has finally come and they are forbidden to attend. But curiosity gets the better of them and they decide to sneak into the ball.
- Come the final arc of Steven Universe's fifth season, we learn that Pink Diamond often threw extravagant balls millennia ago to celebrate the other Diamonds' accomplishments. When Steven tries to inherit his mother's true legacy, he's put in charge of setting up a ball of his own, to mark the official start of Homeworld's Era 3.