Did you wonder what exactly the Upper and Lower Rooms were? I did. I found a fantastic resource blog, written by Vic Sanborn, called Jane Austen’s World.
Here I found some interesting tidbits on the Upper Rooms:
Public assemblies were a way for young couples to meet a potential partner from outside their immediate social circle. One purchased a subscription for a series of balls (which included supper) or for the entire season.
The crowds as described by Jane Austen at the Upper Rooms, the newest and largest Assembly Rooms in Bath, were a crush. Balls were held twice a week and attracted from 800 to 1,200 guests at the height of the season, which drew to a close in May. Because the social whirl was so popular in this fashionable spa city, the Upper Rooms and Lower Rooms held dances on different evenings so that visitors would have a chance to attend them every night they were offered.
And here I found some interesting tidbits about the Lower Rooms:
The lower rooms, built in 1708, were Located on Terrace Walk near beautiful South Parade off the banks of the Avon River. James King, the Master of Ceremonies who introduced Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland, was an historic figure who actually performed as Master of Ceremonies in the lower rooms from 1785 to 1805. He then became M.C. of the upper rooms, which had recently been built in the newer more fashionable neighborhood uptown near The Circus. The Lower Assembly rooms sat in the older city center lower down, hence the distinction between upper and lower rooms.
Mrs. Allen and Catherine didn’t have such a good time. I can understand if it were so crowded with people you didn’t know, it wouldn’t be such an enjoyable event. But, I think this method of socializing seems so romantic! You get all dressed up, chat and dance. Maybe in reality I wouldn’t actually feel comfortable attending a ball, but it seems much more satisfying than sitting in front of the TV while I socialize via the Internet.