Freemasonry, as a fellowship, has always had an important social side. Before the Union there was little differentiation between meeting and refreshment but after 1813 refreshment was divorced from the actual meeting to become the Festive Board, a formal dinner with toasting and speeches. Music had, and still can play, an important part in Lodge meetings. Before the Union, toasts would be accompanied by songs and the evening would he rounded of by singing part-songs and glees. In Victorian times music was provided throughout the dinner and entertainments would be provided between the formal toasts.
From the 1720s Grand Lodge and individual Lodges would take over a theatre for the evening, all the proceeds going to charity. The performances would often begin and end with specially composed Masonic prologues and epilogues.
The ladies had occasionally been asked to dine with the Lodge but in Victorian times; Masonic Balls, with the brethren in regalia, began to be held and enterprising composers produced 'Masonic' waltzes, marches and other music. By the early 1900s these balls had become annual Ladies Festivals, held combining dinner and dancing as a compliment to the ladies.