Dancing was a popular form of entertainment among both the officers and the enlisted men. At Fort Shaw, Montana in 1878, the commander and his wife enjoyed a dinner or card parties almost every day as guests. Several luncheons and suppers were, "quite elegant, formal affairs, beautifully served with dainty china and handsome silver." This delightful series of parties celebrated the end of summer campaigns and included not only feasting but dancing as well.
Actually, the combination of food and tripping the light fantastic proved almost standard procedure. "Hops," as the old army referred to these gatherings, demonstrated as much ingenuity as the preparation of meals. Alice Baldwin, an officer's wife, mentioned that after one wedding, a ball given in honor of the bride and groom "was unique and original, considering much that was necessary to beautify and adom," could not be found for hundreds of miles. Four of the local ladies converted a half completed stone building by using tent-flies and canvas for the roof and floors and hung army blankets in the paneless windows. Although the whole place was draughty, "two large box stoves, piled full of wood by the soldiers, together with the activities of dancing, kept everyone warm enough to be comfortable."