The above is an actual program from a variety show that is preserved in the Library of Congress. If Alistair and Jo get back from the Continent in time, they could actually attend this show. If you look very closely, you can see that there were a true variety of performers–from musicians to politicians; comedy stylings to serenades. There was also some politically incorrect blackface performance which was typical of the period. Variety shows were the popular entertainment of the time. Theaters like the Bowery Theater catered to the workers and immigrants of the Lower East Side. Tony Pastor began using the term Vaudeville in 1876 as he bid to “clean up” the variety shows.
I found a great post about general leisure time on Sundays. (After all, most people would have to be working the other six days a week–and even Alistair should be in class most days.) The owner of this blog, Ephemeral New York, has a book out about The Gilded Age that I just ordered for MY collection!
Jo and Alistair could go out to dinner at Delmonico’s like Fred and Kevin do in the new book.
Perhaps afterward, they could go to a play on Broadway, which was already becoming established as a theatrical center. Theaters like Fifth Avenue Theater or Wallack’s Theater provided popular evening entertainment.
Maybe Leonora would join them for a night at the opera at the Academy of Music.
Or, perhaps, they would just spend a night in with Jo’s favorite Dime Novels which were the popular fiction of the day. If you would like to read one of Garrett Goldthwaite’s novels and see why Jo likes them, Practical Polly and The Village of Doom! is free until Monday, July 13, 2020 (and fairly reasonable in price after that.)