"Life is like a library owned by the authors. In it are a few books which they
wrote themselves, but most of them were written for them."
Even after the introduction of the phonograph the expected feature was a live orchestra – often referred to as a palm court orchestra – or a small band playing light classical music. In the US, the types of dances performed during tea dances included Waltzes, Tangos and, by the late 1920s, The Charleston, Rumba and some of the fad dances.
"From Rags To Riches" by Tony Bennett
The dining-room served as the tea-room, with the dining-tables arranged at one end as a buffet. For the older generation a tea dance was a reception akin to an "at home". Floral decorations were modest.
In the United States, the term has been broadened to refer to any casual afternoon dance event. In Hawaii, they have been in and out for fifty years and no one seems to be able to keep them going. There will be one before the end of the year.
"Young At Heart" by Frank Sinatra
Pub's Side Note: "In Hawaii, dance blogs are enabling hundreds of dancers to express their opinions with reduced political risk simply because of the sheer number of like-minded opinions online. Facing these independent voices, the old clique machine starts to crumble."