Edwardian Court Balls were renowned for their lavishness and in Pre Great War Germany these were the highlight of the season. James W. Gerard was the American Ambassador to Germany and the Emperor. In his book “My Four Years in Germany”, James W. Gerard paints this vivid portrait.
“At the court balls, which also began early in the evening, a different procedure was followed. There the guests were required to assemble before eight-twenty in the ball-room. As in the Schleppencour, on one side of the room was the throne with seats for the Emperor and Empress, and to the right of this throne were the chairs for the Ambassadors' wives who were seated in the order of their husbands' rank, with the ladies of their Embassy, and any ladies they had brought to the ball standing behind them. After them came the Ministers' wives, sitting in similar fashion; then the Ambassadors, standing with their staffs behind them on raised steps, with any men that they had asked invitations for, and the Ministers in similar order. To the left of the throne stood the wives of the Dukes and dignitaries of Germany and then their husbands. When all were assembled, promptly at the time announced, the orchestra, which was dressed in medieval costume and sat in a gallery, sounded trumpets and then the Emperor and Empress entered the room, the Emperor, of course, in uniform, followed by the ladies and gentlemen of the household all in brilliant uniforms, and one or two officers of the court regiment, picked out for their great height and dressed in the kind of uniform Rupert of Hentzau wears on the stage,—a silver helmet surmounted by an eagle, a steel breast-plate, white breeches and coat, and enormous high boots coming half way up the thigh. The Grand Huntsman wore a white wig, three-cornered hat and a long green coat.
On entering the room, the Empress usually commenced on one side and the Emperor on the other, going around the room and speaking to the Ambassadors' wives and Ambassadors, etc., in turn, and the Empress in similar fashion, chatting for a moment with the German dignitaries and their wives lined up on the opposite side of the room. After going perhaps half way around each side, the Emperor and Empress would then change sides. This going around the room and chatting with people in turn is called "making the circle", and young royalties are practised in "making the circle" by being made to go up to the trees in a garden and address a few pleasant words to each tree, in this manner learning one of the principal duties of royalty.
The dancing is only by young women and young officers of noble families who have practiced the dances before. They are under the superintendence of several young officers who are known as Vortänzer and when anyone in Berlin in court society gives a ball these Vortänzer are the ones who see that all dancing is conducted strictly according to rule and manage the affairs of the ball-room with true Prussian efficiency. Supper is about ten-thirty at a court ball and is at small tables. Each royalty has a table holding about eight people and to these people are invited without particular rule as to precedence. The younger guests and lower dignitaries are not placed at supper but find places at tables to suit themselves. After supper all go back to the ball-room and there the young ladies and officers, led by the Vortänzer execute a sort of lancers, in the final figure of which long lines are formed of dancers radiating from the throne; and all the dancers make bows and curtsies to the Emperor and Empress who are either standing or sitting at this time on the throne. At about eleven-thirty the ball is over, and as the guests pass out through the long hall, they are given glasses of hot punch and a peculiar sort of local Berlin bun, in order to ward off the lurking dangers of the villainous winter climate.
At the court balls the diplomats are, of course, in their best diplomatic uniform. All Germans are in uniform of some kind, but the women do not wear the long trains worn at the Schleppencour. They wear ordinary ball dresses. In connection with court dancing it is rather interesting to note that when the tango and turkey trot made their way over the frontiers of Germany in the autumn of 1913, the Emperor issued a special order that no officers of the army or navy should dance any of these dances or should go to the house of any person who, at any time, whether officers were present or not, had allowed any of these new dances to be danced. This effectually extinguished the turkey trot, the bunny hug and the tango, and maintained the waltz and the polka in their old estate. It may seem ridiculous that such a decree should be so solemnly issued, but I believe that the higher authorities in Germany earnestly desired that the people, and, especially, the officers of the army and navy, should learn not to enjoy themselves too much. A great endeavour was always made to keep them in a life, so far as possible, of Spartan simplicity. For instance, the army officers were forbidden to play polo, not because of anything against the game, which, of course, is splendid practice for riding, but because it would make a distinction in the army between rich and poor.