One of the few lapses of modern etiquette books is that they uniformly fail to address the compelling subtleties of attendance at canine altercations, referred to by the brutish as "dogfights." This is reflected in the popular expression, "dressed like he was going to a dogfight." In fact, there are things that the well-bred sophisticate should consider on these festive occasions.
One of those things is proper dress. In the summer months, especially if the occasion is held in warm southern barns, a light-colored sun dress and pumps is very appropriate. A flowered straw hat and white gloves would certainly be in order during the height of the summer season. Wearing stockings always marks a lady of class. Anyone who wears leopard-patterned clothing should be assigned to the nosebleed section of the arena. Darker, more substantial clothing is acceptable during the fall. The winter season is only for tourists and fanatics: the social-conscious are not seen at that time.
Gentlemen, of course, should comport themselves at all times in a gentlemanly manner. While a coat and tie is always in order, modern trends make it permissible for men to attend these functions while wearing a short-sleeved buttoned shirt and a tie if the temperature is warm. Hats should be worn only if the occasion is out of doors, and only the rude fail to tip theirs to the ladies and to the canines. Remember also the dictum first pronounced by Clementine Rousseau, "He who expects to rate as a gentleman should not expectorate on the floor."
Special care to appearance should be given to Opening Night in early March, when evening wear is mandatory. It is good practice to make arrangements with your hairdresser several months in advance so that you will look your best before the press cameras. Understatement in jewelry is preferred. Gentlemen may wear business suits if they choose. Do tip the valet who parks your car, proceed with your escort on the red carpet, and smile at the photographers. You may be interviewed by Joan and Melissa. Plan something sophisticated to say for that eventuality.
Decorum should be observed at all times. If the dog you are wagering on performs particularly well, then you might express your pleasure with polite applause. Dignified audience members should refrain from shouting imprecations at referees or other specators, declaring that poorly-performing canines should go to the pound, or making rude gestures at each other.
Of course, audience members should arrive early for the occasion, out of consideration for the sensibilities of the dogs. Greet people that you know with hugs and air kisses. Shake hands with all in your immediate vicinity.
Every evening of dog fighting should begin with three songs: The National Anthem, "You Are My Sunshine," and "Who Let the Dogs Out." Audience members are to stand politely and sing if they know the words to the song.
It is considered ungenteel to bring in food or drink to these occasions, especially since there is an open bar and hors de ouvres during intermission while the string quartet plays. This is an occasion for 'working the room.' renewing acquaintances, and making polite conversation. Particularly recommended is a dry white wine in a long-stemmed glass.
It's up to all of us to keep up the standards that have served well the sport of canine altercations.
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