A Guide for Gentlemen
This section covers the thorny issue of how to behave at plays and musical venues taken from:
THE GENTLEMEN’S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE, AND MANUAL OF POLITENESS
ETIQUETTE FOR PLACES OF AMUSEMENT.
When you wish to invite a lady to accompany you to the theatre, opera, a concert, or any other public place of amusement, send the invitation the day previous to the one selected for taking her, and write it in the third person. If it is the first time you have invited her, include her mother, sister, or some other lady in the invitation.
If she accepts your invitation, let it be your next care to secure good seats, for it is but a poor compliment to invite a lady to go to the opera, and put her in an uncomfortable seat, where she can neither hear, see, nor be seen.
Although, when alone, you will act a courteous part in giving your seat to a strange lady, who is standing, in a crowded concert room, you should not do so when you are with a lady. By giving up your place beside her, you may place a lady next her, whom she will find an unpleasant companion, and you are yourself separated from her, when the conversation between the acts makes one of the greatest pleasures of an evening spent in this way. In case of accident, too, he deprives her of his protection, and gives her the appearance of having come alone. Your first duty, when you are escorting a lady, is to that lady before all others.
When you are with a lady at a place of amusement, you must not leave your seat until you rise to escort her home. If at the opera, you may invite her to promenade between the acts, but if she declines, do you too remain in your seat.
Let all your conversation be in a low tone, not whispered, nor with any air of mystery, but in a tone that will not disturb those seated near you.
Any lover-like airs or attitudes, although you may have the right to assume them, are in excessively bad taste in public.
If the evening you have appointed be a stormy one, you must call for your companion with a carriage, and this is the more elegant way of taking her even if the weather does not make it absolutely necessary.
When you are entering a concert room, or the box of a theatre, walk before your companion up the aisle, until you reach the seats you have secured, then turn, offer your hand to her, and place her in the inner seat, taking the outside one yourself; in going out, if the aisle is too narrow to walk two abreast, you again precede your companion until you reach the lobby, where you turn and offer your arm to her.
Loud talking, laughter, or mistimed applause, are all in very bad taste, for if you do not wish to pay strict attention to the performance, those around you probably do, and you pay but a poor compliment to your companion in thus implying her want of interest in what she came to see.