Last updated: 13 October, 2019


Proponents of Contra-dance cite its advantages as:

Also, generally all couples perform the same steps simultaneously - although half may be moving in the opposite direction…  and figures are walked - so there’s no need to ‘rant’, ‘skip’, ‘step-hop’ etc..

Contra, being more refined than most conventional country dances, is more suitable for the more mature dancer. There aren't any boisterous figures e.g. galloping down the length of a set or ‘basket’.  Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that Contra isn’t amenable to flourishes of frivolity e.g. transitions between balancing, circling or starring… and swinging, can all be embellished by creative twirling (e.g. where the man’s partner is on his left, he raises his l. arm and twirls the lady Ccw. under it, as they turn to face each other) or, for unashamed flamboyance, the man tucks his right leg behind his lady, cradles the back of her head in his left hand and, taking her weight with his right arm, her right hand around his neck, lowers her backwards, horizontally, over his right thigh - honest!  (A ‘back-breaker’.)

But ultimately, Contra doesn’t offer quite the variety - the ‘cherries’ - afforded by figures such as ‘Strip the Willow’, ‘Dip & Dive’, ‘Thread the Needle’ or ‘Georgia Rang-Tang’.

32-bar Contra dances often comprise eight, four-bar figures c.f. four, eight-bar figures for conventional country dances - so a bit more demanding to remember.

Accompaniment is often contemporary, performed by string bands.

You want to see a demonstration of Contra?

Here’s a sample - danced with youthful exuberance:

What you’re watching:
(Formation: duple minor, ‘1’s improper)
(Bars 1-4) Balance crossways wavy line,
Allemande by the right  ½ around (as an alternative, ‘Box the Gnat’),
(5-8) Balance the wave,
Men Allemande by the left ¾ around, to Balance…
(9-16) …and Swing neighbor,

(17-24) (In fours) Circle l.  ¾,
Swing Partner,
(25-32) Circle l.  ¾ - to a crossways wavy line,
Balance the wave,
Pull-thru’ to progress.


by Don Flaherty

Form:  Longways line of couples, duple minor, ‘1’s improper.
Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top - each couple faces another couple.
Suspended, wood-board flooring enhances stomping. 

Watch, from 4m43, at:

    * * *
A1:  Balance (double-handed, push-back to a single-handed [man's right hand] lean-back, tap), neighbor.  (2 bars)
Swing that neighbor.  (6 bars)
Finishing with the lady on man’s right.

A2:  Minor sets circle left.  (Ladies half-circle.) (4)
Swing partner. (4)

B1:  Lines forward, double-handed clap, reverse back, tap/stomp. (4)
Chain ladies across the set (optional Cw. twirl). (4)

B2:  Lines forward, balance (meet partner by the right hand, tap, reverse (still holding right hands - lean-back), tap.  In minor (two-couple) set Right-Left Pull-by  (cross by r. h. with partner, l. h. with opposite - along the line). (4)
Repeat and forward… (4)
(If reached an end, wait-out; if already sitting-out, the couple swap places and re-join.)

Becket Reel

by Herbie Gaudreau

Form:  Contra, Becket i.e. a longways line of couples (lady on the man’s right) facing another, similar line.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Ladies chain across the set, ladies chain back.

A2:  Continue into a Hey (reel of four) across the set (in the middle, pass by left shoulders)…  and back.

B1:  Allemande left with your neighbor.  Swing (buzz step) partner.

B2:  Right and Left thru’ with the couple on your left diagonal - as a flourish, ladies can finish by twirling Cw. under their man’s left arm as he rotates Ccw..  (A top couple and a bottom couple wait out these four bars).
All right and left thru’ with the couple across the set.  (Everyone’s ‘progressed’ Cw.).

Dr Bluhm’s Delight

Author: Rick Mohr

Form:  Contra, Becket.  Adjacent minor sets could align - extending the crossways wavy line.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  In fours, circle left.  Men return to place with their opposite (whom only ½-circled).  (Optionally, since the lady is on the man's left, he could twirl her Ccw. into:)
Swing opposite.

A2:  Lines (new lady on right-hand side) forward and back (‘end’ couples swap across to the facing line).
Hands across (part star) to circle right by the left hand, Ccw..  Halfway round (so, crossed-over), men drop back, the ladies, still holding l. hands, continue circling to rejoin their ‘opposite’ and hold his right hand to make a wavy line (facing in alternate directions) across the set.

B1:  ‘Balance’ (lean/sway and double-bop) right (towards this ‘opposite’) - then ladies balance to each other, release their l. h., couple Allemande right two-thirds Cw., the man meets, by the l. h., a man from his adjacent, minor set (or a man from an end couple that's preparing to rejoin).  (4 bars)
"‘Balance’ to your opposite", then balance left (men to each other).  Men ¾ Allemande left (Ccw.) to return for "right hand to (original) partner".  (4 bars)

B2:  ‘Balance’ right (to partner), then left.
Swing partner.

To allow the Cw. progression, a lady at either end may now need to swap sides, and wait-out a ‘go’ (rejoining, with their man, at B1).

Chuck the Budgie

Author:  Rick Mohr

Form:  Duple minor, ‘1’s improper (change places with partner).  Adjacent minor sets could align (extending the crossways wavy line).

Preparation:  Take hands four from the top.

Watch at:
Music:  Flying Tent

    * * *
A1:  Men forward across the set and Allemande left a half-turn.
They go back to "Swing your neighbor" (whom they’ve just met - on their left).

A2:  (Still with neighbor) Face across.  Hold hands in fours, circle left ¾ (men return ‘home’ - with their lady) to "Swing your partner".

B1:  Re-form longways lines, go ‘forward and back’.
Ladies Allemande right 1¼ turns to meet their neighbor (man) with a raised l. hand - to form a wavy line (so, without releasing r. hand).

B2:  Balance the (crossways) Wave:  balance this person (lean/sway left - emphasized with a double dip/‘bop’… and flap/pump elbows), then balance right (ladies towards each other).  Ladies release r. hands and Allemande left ¾ around their neighbor to meet a new neighbor, and, without releasing left hands, make a longways, wavy line.  (4 bars)
(Men have progressed one place left, ladies right.)
Balance the (longways) Wave:  lean/sway to the right (new neighbor), double-bop, then left, double-bop.  Everyone releases their l. hand, and Allemande right their new neighbor ½ around.  (4)

Couples that have reached an end, swap their designation (change places with their partner and turn-back) and wait-out one ‘go’.

Restart:  men continue-on to Allemande left…


Form:  Contra, Becket lines.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Forward and back.
Ladies chain across the set once.

A2:  Form a circle of four.
‘Balance’ (join hands, pull-in, stepping forward, tap other foot, step-back, tap), Petronella turn (Ccw.), end with a ‘clap-clap’.  Repeat the balance and Petronella turn.

B1:  Couples balance in, out, then ‘thread’ to their left (relative to starting the A1 phrase) through their ‘opposites’ to swing a new ‘opposite’ couple from the adjacent minor set.  (If there isn’t a minor set, the couple wait at the end and swing each other.  The lady then waits ‘in place’, the man swaps to the facing line and they rejoin the set to swing new opposites at the next B1 phrase.)

B2:  Circle of four Cw.. (wrong side - so, optionally, man can twirl his partner Ccw. into:)
Swing partner (or: the man can stand behind his partner, holding both her r. and l. hands, and peek first over her left, then her right shoulder.  Finally, holding up her left hand for her to twirl under).

Hay/Hey in the Barn

by Chart Guthrie

Form:  Contra, duple minor.  Improper (first couple) - essentially symmetrical (i.e. ‘2’s do exactly the same as ‘1’s - but moving in the opposite direction).

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Neighbors two-handed balance - or meet with a ‘Box the Gnat’ (to either side), twirl - and swing.  (8)

A2:  Ladies chain across to their partner.  (4)
Continue smoothly into a Half-hey, start with ladies passing right shoulders.  (Men end-up crossed-over, ladies end-up on their ‘home’ side.)  (4)

B1:  Partners balance and swing.  (8)

B2:  Ladies chain across.  (Everyone’s crossed-over.)  (4)
Half-hey, ladies pass right shoulders to start.  After men pass each other, by the right shoulder, in the middle, they veer to their right to cut-the-corner and progress-on to meet a new neighbor.  (4)

On reaching an end, swap designation, turn-back - as a couple, and wait-out a turn.

Love at First Swing

Author:  Bob Isaacs

Form:  Contra, Becket longways lines.  The progression is Cw. (effectively).

Watch at: or:

    * * *
A1:  Form lines of four across the set, facing down.  Walk four steps forward. (2 bars)
The pair of ladies, holding hands with the central man only, pivot in front of him:  the ‘inside’ (l. h.) lady ducks, the ‘outside’ lady arches (remember the order after crossing rows at the ends), allowing the man to half-turn Cw.. (2)  Four steps back. (2) ‘Outsides’ curl inward - dragging the line into a circle of four.  (The ‘outside’ man has returned to his lady’s left.) (2)

A2:  Keeping hands joined, balance in, lean back, release hands and Petronella turn (rotate ¾ Cw., while also moving Ccw. into the next position round), ‘clap-clap’…

B1:  Balance in, lean back, California twirl(This figure produces the Cw. progression).  Meet and swing the new person facing along the set.  (End couples need, as a pair, to turn-back and wait-out a turn.)

B2:  Circle of four Cw. (only the man completes a full circuit) (optionally, since his partner is on his left, the man can twirl her Ccw. into:).
Swing partner.

Simplicity Swing

Author:  Becky Hill

Form:  Duple, ‘1’s improper.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Balance neighbor (meet double-handed, push-back to a single-handed [man’s right] lean-back).  (2 bars)
Swing neighbor (optionally, twirl lady Cw. into:).  (6 bars)

A2:  Circle left (ladies only half-circle) (man could optionally twirl his partner Ccw. into:).  (3)
Swing partner.  (5)

B1:  Longways lines forward and back, stomp.  (4)
Ladies (or ‘Ravens’) Chain - partner crosses sides.  (4)

B2:  Hold left wrists with neighbors to ¾ Star.  (4)
Peel-off to do-si-do (with an optional twirl) new neighbors.  (4)

or, if reached an end, swap rows and wait-out a ‘turn’ (or swing one’s partner instead).


Form:  Lines, duple, ‘1’s improper.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.  (Symmetrical.  Couples progress forward - along the major set.)

Watch at: (but, in which '2's are improper)
Music:  Benton's Hallucinations

    * * *
A1:  Longways lines (‘2’ lady on ‘1’ man’s left) go forward three, tap and back.  (4 bars)
Ladies Allemande right (full-turn) the opposite lady to cross-over to their partner’s side.  (4)

A2:  Men Allemande left a half-turn with the opposite man.  (3)
Swing partner.  (5)

B1:  In fours, holding hands, lady on her partners right, circle left once around.  (4)
Couples face left along the line and pass thru’ (men in the middle) the advancing couple, jink left to… (4)

B2:  Allemande right ½-turn with the subsequent, advancing couple (or, if ejected at an end, the couple face the opposite way [lady still on man’s right], Allemande right with the following couple and wait out until the next ‘jink’), go back to the previous couple (your new neighbors).  (4)

Swing that neighbor.  (4)

Rock the Cradle, Joe

Author:  Ridge Kennedy

Form:  A longways line of couples.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.  Couple facing couple… (symmetrical - effectively couple ‘1’ will be ‘improper’).  In fours, form a crossways, wavy line - ladies overlap in the middle.  Adjacent minor sets could align.

Watch at:  (Caller: Darlene Underwood)
Music:  Turnpike Warrior

    * * *
A1:  Balance (lean/sway, greet/nod with a double-bop [flap/pump elbows!]) towards the right, then to the left - so, four beats.  (2 bars)
Roll (Cw.) across to the right, past the ‘opposite’.  (2)
Back in wavy lines, balance to the left, then balance right.  (2)
Roll (Ccw.) back - in front of ‘opposite’.  (2)

A2:  Taking two hands with ‘opposite’, lean back, pull together and swing.  Finish in two, facing, longways lines.  (8)

B1:  Lines forward, take two hands with partner and return to man’s side for a swing.  (8)

B2:  Four circle left ¾, lady on her partner’s right…  (4)

…into a wavy line of four holding hands across the set (two ladies in the centre holding l. hands).
Lean back and pull through (optional twirl) to meet an approaching couple with whom to form a new, crossways, wavy line.  (4)  (…or, if at an end, turn-back as a couple, swap designation and wait-out a turn.)

Expert Bits

Author: Peter Stix

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top so that couple-faces-couple… (symmetrical - effectively couple ‘1’ will be ‘improper’).  Adjacent minor sets could align (for the crossways wavy line).

Form:  a crossways, wavy line - men overlap in the middle.  The eventual progression for couples is forward - along the major set.

Watch at:
Music:  Perpetual e-Motion - Eleanor Rigby

    * * *
A1:  Balance (lean/sway double-dip/bop… flap elbows) the Wave to the right, then the left (2 bars), men roll/twirl Cw. towards their right (in front of the other man) - back to partner (2 bars), swing partner. (4 bars)

A2:  Ladies Chain across (4), ladies cross/pull-thru by the right (2), Allemande left partner ¾ into crossways waves - with ladies in the middle…  (2)

B1:  Balance the Wave to the right, then left (2), ladies twirl across to their right (2), swing neighbor. (4)

B2:  Couples cross the set (ladies effectively Allemende each other left ¼), to form a crossways Wave (ladies in the middle) (2), balance right, left (2), pull forward (and slightly ‘right’) to the next neighbors (if at an end, turn-back as a couple, and wait-out a ‘go’), Allemande left a full-turn to form a crossways Wave with men in the middle…  (4)


Heartbeat Contra

Author:  Don Flaherty

Form:  ‘1’s Improper.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.

Music:  36s: C-R Logston - a *Highlander’s Farewell jam;  35s: Payne & Money - Sheepskins and Beeswax;  33s: We Banjo 3 - (from 1m40) Sheepskins and Beeswax.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Balance the Ring (2 bars),  In circles of four, pull-forward (take one step forward… ) close and tap with the other foot… and lean back,
Petronella (2),  rotate ¾ Cw., clap-clap
Repeat (4)

A2:  Balance the Ring (2),  …then lady can twirl Ccw. under neighbor’s l. arm into:
Swing Neighbor (6)

B1:  Ladies Gypsy 1.5 or swing…  or something (4),
Swing Partner (4)

B2:  Holding hands, Circle left ¾ (4),
Balance (still in a ring) (2),
California Twirl partner (to face new, oncoming neighbors) (2).

There and Back Again

Author:  Heather Carmichael

Form:  duple, ‘1s’ improper.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.  Adjacent minor sets could align - extending the crossways wavy line.

Watch at:

Start in cross-ways wavy lines - ladies overlap in the middle.

    * * *
A1:  Balance the Wave (2 bars), Slide/Twirl right (2 bars),
New Neighbor Allemande Left 1½ (4) returning to:

A2:  Previous Neighbor Balance meet double-handed, push-back to a single-handed (man’s right) lean-back & Swing (2, 6) or man raises left arm, lady twirls-in Ccw. and, remaining firmly-linked, they rotate Cw..  Man releases his left hand so the lady can twirl-out Cw.

B1:  Circle Left ¾ (4), Partner (since the lady is on the man's left - the man could twirl the lady Ccw. into:) Swing (4)

B2:  Hold hands in circles of four, Balance pull-in, out… the Ring (2),  and eject ladies, Cross to form a wavy-line with new neighbors (2) and Balance the Wave (2), Pass Through (2)

Progress is: forward two couples, and back one.  End couples need to remain alert!

Coconut Cream Pie

Author:  Lynn Ackerson

Music:  The Great Bear Trio - *Garbage in A

Watch at:

Form:  Lines comprising two crossways couples facing two crossways couples.  (Quadrille)

    * * *
A1:  Lines of 4, Forward and Back (4), Center 4 Right Hand Star (4)…
…while ends do ‘whatever they want’.

A2:  Partner, Allemande Left c. 1¼ (4), New Center 4 Right Hand Star (4)…
…new ends do ‘whatever they want’.

B1:  Balance meet double-handed, push-back to a single-handed (man’s right) lean-back & Swing Partner. (2, 6)

B2:  Circle Left ½ in group of 8 (4), Balance Ring (2), California Twirl Partner to turn to face a new line of 4 (2).  So the progression continues in the same direction - but everyone has swapped lines  … unless at an end, where they turn-back and wait-out a turn.

Asheville Advanced

Form:  Longways lines, duple, ‘1’s improper.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Single-handed Balance neighbor (who should be facing you - longways), ‘Box the Gnat’ with neighbor.
Face across, single-handed Balance partner, ‘Box the Gnat’ (end-up crossed-over).

A2:  Double-handed, Balance neighbor, Swing neighbor.

B1:  Face across, ladies Allemande by the right - once around,
Swing Partner.

B2:  Pass thru’ neighbors/opposites across the set, turn lady (or twirl her Cw. under left arm… ) ready for:
Ladies chain across, ending with a twirl Cw. under their neighbor’s left arm, so they’re back-to-back - each facing a new neighbor.

Repeat…  or, if at an end, swap designation, turn-around and wait-out a turn.

Flourishes - twirls
Hands are held loosely - allowing relative rotation.
The couple approach each other with:

Suggested Contra Tracks (mainly 32-bar)
36s: We Banjo 3 - Good Time, Old Time;
35s: Perpetual e-Motion - Vladi on the Trans-Siberian;
34s: The Great Bear Trio - *Benton’s Hallucinations, The Gardener, George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Merriweather/Sally Ann Johnson set, Michael Daves - *The 28th January, Hotpoint Stringband - Bus Stop Reel;
33s: Tidal Wave (Contra Quebecois) - Reel à Bruce/Reel De Terrebonne/Reel Du Nord, Perpetual e-Motion - *Bridge the Gap, Turnpike Warrior/Mom/Kandahar set, Hotpoint Stringband - Big John MacNeil/Elzic’s Farewell set, Jeff City/Dolly McFadden’s Favorite/… set, Come Along Jody/…Dog, Genticorum - Reel Circulaire, Vitamin String Quartet - Billie Jean;
32s: Perpetual e-Motion - *Flying Tent, Sandy Boys/Beth Cohen’s set, Red-Haired Boy/Cluck Old Hen/…, The Great Bear Trio - Contra Dance, The Hat Thief, Lake City/The Monarch (30s), George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Mad River/…/Hey Little Girl set, Andrew and Noah Band (Great Bear) - *Elusive Goose, Cascade/Dial Pancake, Kaiser Family - Hey Little Girl/Hangman’s Reel, Tom Adler & Co. (incl. Rob Pine) - Sweet Nell, Hotpoint Stringband - Juneteenth/Opera Reel, Warsaw/*Haphazard Breakdown set, The Gothard Sisters - *Against the Grain!, Stringdancer - Bridget’s …/Curvy …/*Haphazard Breakdown set, Béla Fleck - *Frosty Morning, Tidal Wave (Contra Music Of Quebec) - Set des frères Pidgeon/Répertoire Gerard Lajoie/Reel St Michel, Quadrille De Beauharnois/Reel Américain/Reel De Bergeville, Vitamin String Quartet or Taylor Davis - *Thriller, Alexandr Misko or Organic Strings - Billie Jean;
31s: The Great Bear Trio - *Garbage in A, Buddy System - *Ride the Wheel, Perpetual e-Motion - *Eleanor Rigby;
30s: Blazin’ Fiddles - Pat The Budgie.

Electro/Techno (not 32-bar):  34s: Firecloud - Smith Mountain/High Avalanche;  33s: D.R. Shadow - First Chance;  32s: D.R. Shadow (feat. Mean Lids) - *Glory in the House, Midnight, Firecloud - Eyeball Tacos.

American Square Dances usually comprise two alternating parts:  the distinctive main figure, unique to each dance and repeated by each couple in turn, and the ‘break’ or ‘chorus’, a formulaic combination - elements of which can be repeated from dance-to-dance, e.g. ‘Allemande your corner by the left, Right-Left Grand’, ‘You swing mine (partner), I’ll swing yours’ or ‘Promenade around the ring’…
    … and ‘calling’ employs a characteristic, rhyming ‘patter’.

Danced to reels - usually multiples of 16 bars - played in Bluegrass-style.

Texas Star

(A ‘breakdown’ style of square dance.)

Watch at:  ‘Called’ by Phil Jamison.

All hold hands and circle left, “Circle of eight”, “other way back - and don’t be slow”/“Don’t be late”.  (16 beats)

“Swing your partner high & swing her low” or “Everybody home and swing”.  (8 beats)

“Promenade (with a heel & a toe)” Ccw. until you’re home.  (16 beats)

    * * *
Main Figure (44 bars)
“All four ladies go… in to the middle” (3 steps and clap neighbors’ hands), ladies reverse out (“and back to the bar”).  (8 beats, 4bars)

“ …and the gents go in with a r. hand star” (Cw., grip right wrists)…  (8 beats)

…then turn back for a l. hand star (grip l. wrists) back.  (8 beats)

Men pass their partner with a slight bow and pick-up (arm around her waist) the next lady (to progress) “Take the next” with r. hand, “right by your side”, continue, circling back to man’s place.  (8 beats)

Men let go l. hand so that couples can wheel around Ccw. (men reverse) 1½ times: “Gents swing out and ladies in”/“Insides out and outsides in - it’s once-and-a-half and you’re goin’ ag’in” i.e. ladies r. hand star, men hang-on outside their partner.  (16 beats)

“Break that star, and swing”.  (8 beats)

Promenade (crossed-hands, in front) to the man’s home place (optionally, a few steps from home, the man can raise his hands so that the lady can twirl back to place - still holding both hands initially).  (16 beats)

All hold hands and circle left, “Circle left - eight hands around”, “other way back".  (16 beats)

Repeat the dance a further three times (by going back to:  “All four ladies go… ”).


The Break… (between main figures) or ‘chorus’

‘Rip & Snort’ (Sometimes also used as a finishing ‘trimming’.)

All join hands.  The first man, with his new lady, go ‘R & S’:  couple 3 make an arch and ‘1’s, still holding hands, pass through it, “First couple down the centre… ”, pulling their adjacent couples through.  Couple 1 separate (only releasing their partner’s hand), round the outside of the set, and meet back home (couple 3 need to ‘unwind’ their arch together).  Couple 1 rejoin hands;

“‘4s’ arch and ‘2’s duck through”/“Couple 2, come on thru”;

‘1’s arch, “Couple 3 go through that door”;

‘2’s arch, “Couple 4, you know what to do”.  (Total = 4 x c. 8 beats)

Georgia Rang-Tang

Watch at:

Opener  (c. 32 bars) [or 24-bars for a ‘mini’-opener - timing shown in square brackets]
Circle left.  (16 beats)  [8 beats]

Swing partner.  (8 beats)  [8 beats]

Promenade Ccw.  (8 beats)  [8 beats]

Put the lady on the left - to swap sides…  (8)  [4]

…ladies continue circling Ccw, - men turn back and go the other way around.  When you meet, “Swing your own”.  (c. 20)  [16]

Find another couple…  “Lost and found in the middle of the floor”.  (c. 4 beats - until the next music phrase)

    * * *
Main Figure (24 bars)
The Georgia Rang Tang figure shares similarities with the Arkansas Traveler figure.

(Start with couple-facing-couple:) Right hand Allemande half-turn around your ‘opposite’ person (“Turn your opposite by the right hand around.”),  (5 steps)

l. hand half-around with partner (“Partner by the left hand around.”),  (5 steps)

r. hand half-around with opposite,  (5 steps)

l. hand with partner,  (5 steps.  So a total of c. 20 beats so far)

swing your opposite, so “You swing mine, I’ll swing yours… ”

…“and now swing your own”.  (c. 8 + 8 steps, so total = c. 46 steps/beats)

Move-on to the right to the next couple to repeat the figure…  inner couples move Cw., outers move Ccw..  (c. 2 steps/beats)

“Promenade that one you know.  You know where and I don’t care…  take your partner to an easy chair.  That’s all there is from this ol’ square”.

Dip and Dive

Music:  Need to start very slowly - perhaps for a walkthrough?  Then try:  Mick O’Brien & C O’R - *Rolling in the Ryegrass set  (16 bars in 20s of initially relaxed, but infectious, fiddling).

Form:  square.  Prepare by dancing a G.R-T. figure.

As called by Bob Dalsemer at: and

    * * *
Main Figure (comprises c. 56 bars or c. 36/37 bars without the G.R-T.)
The first couple lead-out to their right - to couple 2.  The two couples hold hands to make a circle which they half-turn Cw..  Couples 1, 2 and 4 are now in a ‘line of three’ couples across the set - with couple 2 in the middle.  4 bars

Couple 2 make a single-handed arch and move forward.  Couple 1, facing towards the line, dive under the arch and then make an arch themselves as they continue forward towards the advancing couple 3.  Couple 2 then turn around with a ‘California Twirl’ or, if desired, the man swaps sides by leading round the back of the lady, she swaps sides half-turning Ccw. ‘into’ him - so that her left arm is wrapped across her waist.  (After the couple has ‘dip’ped through the oncoming arch, the lady then ‘unwrap’s - by rotating Cw. once).  “Insides arch and outsides under, ‘Dip and Dive’, you go like thunder”…  twice across until couple 1 are in the middle.  (12 bars)

“On you go - it’s on to the next”.  Couple 1 then break-off to half-circle left with couple 3  (4 bars), and either: perform a ‘Georgia Rang-Tang’:  “(Half-)Turn your left hand lady by the right hand around”, etc..  (10 bars) and swings (10 bars)…
or:  couple arch and ‘1’s simply dive thru’ and move-on.  (2 bars)

After the "swing your own" at the end of the G. R-T. figure, couple 1 move-on to hold hands with couple 4 and half-circle Cw. - so couples 2, 4 and 1 are in a line across the set.  (4 bars)

The middle couple (couple 4) make the arch, couple 1, facing the line, dive under the arch - then the three couples Dip ‘n’ Dive across twice until couple 1 are in the middle.  (12 bars)

Include a ‘break’ figure here?

Restart - with couple 2 as the working couple.

Break figure suggestions (choose, say two, for the last 16 bars):

Long Swing “Now home we go, what ya goin’ do?  You swing your partner and she’ll swing you”.  “Step right back and watch her grin, step right up and swing her ag’in, step right back and watch her smile, step right up and swing her awhile”.

Do-si-do:  “Dance around your corners all…, dance around your partners all… ”.  (8 + 8 steps)

“Allemande left your corner (with your ol’ left hand) - then ya’ walk straight into a R-L Grand”.  (4 + 12 steps)

“Promenade with your partner - go two-by-two (or just ‘one-step’) - right back home like you used to do”.  (16 steps)

Circle: “All hands up and circle south; put a little moonshine in your mouth…  and find your way back on that same ol’ track”.  (8 + 8 steps)

Kentucky Do-Si-Do

Form:  square.  The caller’s priority should be to keep the working couple progressing smoothly, rather than calling to the music’s phrasing.

As called by Bob Dalsemer at:

Preparation:  Walk-thru the Do-si-do figure in two, two-couple groups.

Circle left eight steps, “the other way back, single file, ladies in front”;  everybody cross-hand swing partner, corner swing, promenade partner round the ring “promenade them two-by-two”. (8 + c. 12 bars)

    * * *
Main figure  (c. 36 bars)
First couple lead-out to their right - to the second couple, with whom they hold hands and circle left: “Out to the right and circle of four” (3 bars).  “On to the next, circle of four” (3)…  and “on to the next, circle of four” (3)…  and “bring it on up with a (Kentucky) do-si-do”: “(half-) turn partner by the left and around you go” (3), “opposite right and around you go” (2), partner left (3), opposite right (2) “and one more change and around you go” or “and all four change and on you go”, meet partner by the left.  (1)

The two men curl round Ccw. so that they can promenade (crossed-hands infront) their partner around the other couple (men should be close - shoulder-to-shoulder) and back home.  Both men (1st and 4th) should commence this figure as they pass back-to-back, “back home you go”.  (4)

Everybody two-handed lean-back with partner and swing once (¾) around, “partner swing” (2), everybody two-handed lean-back and swing corner (¾ around), “corner swing” (2), promenade partner around the ring.  (8)

Second couple lead-out to the right and circle four… etc..

Third couple go out to the right… etc..

Fourth couple… etc..

Arkansas Traveler

(Known as The Georgia Rang-Tang in the eastern USA)

Form:  square.

Watch Bill Litchman call at:

    * * *
Head two couples go forward four steps and back.  4 bars

Main figure

(Half-)Turn (Allemande) your opposite with the right hand around.  2 bars  (c. 5 steps/counts)

Turn your partner with the left hand around.  3 bars  (c. 5 steps)

‘Opposite’ right hand around.  2 bars  (c. 5 steps)

Back to your own (partner) with a left hand ’round.  3 bars  (c. 5 steps)

Then a Break figure (for a total of 32 bars, one needs about another 18 bars)

Repeat three times…  Same two head men with their new partners go forward and back etc. …

Then repeat the whole sequence with side couples leading.

Bouquet Waltz

or Pokey-O

(A ‘progressive pick-up’ style of square dance.)

(As called by Bob Dalsemer on YouTube.)
Form:  square.  ‘Calling’ needs to react to dancers’ progress rather than music phrasing.

    * * *
Couple 1 step into the middle, Allemande by the left hand once around.  (5 steps)
Lady stays there, gent makes a “circle of three” with couple number 2 and they circle left, Cw., once around.  (c. 7 steps)

Couple 1 Allemande left (hand) in the middle.

“Gent go on” to couple number 3 making a “circle of three”, lady follows-up making a circle of three with couple 2, both circle left (about 3 times) and both circles rotate Ccw. once around each other.

Couple 1 Allemande left in the middle.

Gent goes on to couple 4, “lady follow-up” with couple 3, “two circles of three”, both circle left and both circles rotate Ccw. once around.

Couple 1 Allemande left in the middle.

Couple 1 go on to couple 4 to make a 4-person circle that’s circling left, the other two couples make another 4-person circle that’s also circling left… both two-couple circles then rotate Ccw. around each other once.  “Four-by-four go round the floor… four-by-four and you ‘Pokey-o’ - take four in a bunch and round you go”.

Couple 2 step into the middle and Allemande left.

Lady stays in the middle, man goes on to circle left once with couple number 3… etc..

Include a ‘break’ figure here….

Couple 3 etc.

Couple 4 etc..

Examples of ubiquitous ‘break’ figures

Finally:  “Promenade that one you know.  You know where and I don't care… take your partner to an easy chair.  That’s all there is from this ol’ square”.
Or: “Promenade around the floor.  That’s all there is… there ain’t no more.”
Or: “Bow to your partner, bow to your corner too.  There you go, that’s it - we’re through”.

The Rout (not dissimilar to ‘Chain Double Quadrille’)

Music:  The basic main figure takes 32 bars.  48 bars when the ‘R-L thru'’s are included.  32-bar Starting slowly (44s) - speeding to 31s: Hawktail - *Abbzug.

Form:  square.

As called by Tony Parkes at:
and also at: to Glise de Sherbrooke

Note:  The degree of ‘courtesy-turn’ differs (¼ or ¾) between couples - affecting timing.


Head couples bow to partner, then corner.  4-bar intro.

Hold hands, circle left eight steps and then right.  8 bars

    * * *
Main figure - the basic version omits the four ‘R and L thru'’s (shown below in a paler, italic font)

Both head couples lead to the couple on their right.

“Everybody circle left".  The head/side men break their circle to open it out into a line - so, ending with two, longways/sideways, two-couple lines facing each other.  4 bars

Into the middle (where ‘outsides’ clap free hands) and back.  4 bars

Across the set, everybody forward, ‘Right and Left thru'’, finish with a courtesy-turn.  4 bars

With the same two - "Chain those ladies across the set/track".  (Ladies cross by the r. hand - to the opposite man.)  Finish with a courtesy-turn by the l. hand (or, as a flourish, ladies can finish by twirling Cw. under the man’s left arm as he rotates Ccw.).  4 bars

Facing along the line, two ladies’ chain, finish with a courtesy-turn.  4 bars

With the same two - along the line, everybody ‘Right and left thru'’.  4 bars

Across the set, chain those ladies.  4 bars

Same two - across the set, ‘Right and left thru'’.  4 bars

Along the line, ‘Right and left thru'’.  4 bars

Same two - Along the line, chain those ladies.  4 bars

Courtesy-turn twice around…  You’ve got your own" and Promenade Ccw. (“around the town”) (end flourish: man raises left arm and lady twirls under it).  8 bars

Then repeat with the side couples leading… (but making two, cross-ways lines).

Hash Break figures:  do-si-do your corners all, left shoulder do-si-do your partner, men r. h. star once around, turn partner left, turn corner right, turn partner left;  ladies r. h. star, ladies l. h. star, do-si-do partner and swing partner.  32 bars

All join hands and circle left and home you go.  8 bars

The Rout - Alternative version (where ladies circulate twice around the set)

“Everybody forward", across the set, R-L thru’.  (4 bars, 4 steps + 4 steps)
Along the line, ladies’ chain.
Across the set, ladies’ chain.
Down the line, everybody R-L thru’.

Across the set, ladies’ chain.
Down the line, R-L thru’.
Across the set, R-L thru’.
Down the line, ladies’ chain…   (8 x 4 bars)

Courtesy turn once/twice around and promenade - “around the square”…  or: “we’re homeward bound”.  8 bars

Break:  Do-si-do partner…  Allemande left your corner, R-L Grand.

Down Yonder

Music:  40-bar reel.  Own tune.  38s: Randall Franks, Fairchild & Shuler - Down Yonder.

Form:  square.  (Break, two main figures, break, two main figures, break.)

(As called by Bob Dalsemer on YouTube.)

Break Figure:
1-6  Face corner, Allemande left twice around…  keep holding l. hands

7-8  then, in a circle - ladies innermost facing out i.e. Alamo-style, while also holding partner’s r. h., balance (pull-in to partner, then rock-back)

9-10  let go left hand only and swing half-around partner to also hold l. h. with the next person (so men circulate Ccw. around the set, ladies go Cw.)

11-12  balance (pull-in to that person, then rock-back)

13-14  then let go r. hand and swing half-around

15-22  repeat bars 7-14 with the last two people

23-26  R-L Grand Chain back home

27-30  meet and do-si-do your partner

31-40  promenade your partner once around the set.

    * * *
Main Figure:

1-8  4 ladies/men chain… and chain back

9-12  walk Cw. round your corner, (final time around: ladies twirl under their l. arm and honour)

13-16  ‘see-saw’ (walk Ccw. around) your partner

17-22  go back and swing your corner

23-30  next corner Allemande left…  into a R-L Grand

31-34  meet and do-si-do the one you just swung

35-40  promenade that lady back home (i.e. half-way round the set).

Singing Call for ‘Down Yonder’


“Turn corner left twice around…   In the Alamo style:
give right hand to your partner and you balance awhile,
turn by the right and you balance, I say,
turn by the left and you balance that way,
turn by the right and you balance once more,
turn left, balance (your own)…

Grand right and left the floor.
You’re going down yonder, until you meet your own,
and then you ‘do-si-do’ your partner boys and promenade home.
You’re raising a fuss and a hullabaloo, but she’s going down yonder with you”.

Main Figure:

“Four ladies/gents chain, turn the opposite man/gal,

now chain ’em back, turn your partner again.

‘Do-si-do’ your corner and ‘see saw’ your own/partner around.

Your corner you swing, you've got the world on a string.

You do an Allemande left, and a Grand right and left.

You’re going down yonder, until you meet the one you swung,

and then you ‘do-si-do’ this partner boys and promenade home.

You’re raising a fuss and a hullabaloo, but she’s going down yonder with you”.

Suggested Bluegrass Tracks (to accompany American Square Dances)

42s:  Johnny Cash - Casey Jones - (Steamin' and a Rollin’, obviously!), vocal content;
41s:  Bourbon Street Stompers - Oh Susanna;
39s:  Ricky Skaggs - Missing Vassar;
38s:  We Banjo 3 - John Brown/The Lost Indian/Sail Away Ladies;
37s:  Bruce Molsky - *Shove the Pig’s Foot…  ;
36s:  Bucketboy Bluegrass Band - Kitchen Girl/June Apple, We Banjo 3 - *Good Time, Old Time, *John Brown/The Lost Indian/… set, John Hartford - Squirrel Hunters, Mark O'Connor - Say Old Man, Corrina Rose Logston - *Highlander’s Farewell, Jim Hendricks - Ballad of Casey Jones (instrumental), We Banjo 3 - Little Liza Jane (vocal content);
35s:  The Gilded Bats - Sal’s Got Mud Between her Toes;
34s:  Studio Musicians – Turkey in the Straw, The Sons of Pioneers - *Oh Susanna, Govannen - *Billy in the Low Ground, The Grascals - *Old Dangerfield, Chance McCoy & Appalachian String Band - *Greasy Coat, The Great Bear Trio - *Weedwalker/Winchell’s Falls, Michael McGoldrick, Lunny & Molsky - *Sail Away Ladies/Walking in The Parlour, Amy Alvey & Brad Leftwich - Indian on a Stump, Brittany Haas - John Brown’s Dream, John Reischman - Walk Along John to Kansas;
33s:  Kenny Baker - Smoky Mountain Rag, Art Stamper – Old Arkansas, Bryan Sutton - Kitchen Girl, Duck River, Smith’s Reel, Mark O'Connor - Tennessee Wagoner, Jim Hendricks - Mountain Dew, Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys - Ashland Breakdown, Abrams Brothers - Nashville Skyline Rag, James Last (so, the antithesis of 'Bluegrass’ - but nevertheless, a rather appealing production) - Boil Them Cabbage Down, We Banjo 3 - Road to Errogie/President Gardfield;
32s:  Art Stamper - Miss Spencer's Reel, Goodbye Girls, I’m Going to Boston, Corrina Rose Logston - Smokey Mountain Rag, Chance McCoy & the Appalachian String Band - Twin Sisters, Cranberry Rock, Roy Acuff & Smoky Mountain Boys - Black Mountain Rag, The Steeldrivers - Whiskey Before Breakfast, J. T. Perkins - Bill Cheatum, Martin Simpson et al. - Gather the Owls, Kevin Griffin et al. - *The Green Mountain/… Westport/… Oranmore set, Water Tower - Red Prairie Dawn, The Nashville Bluegrass Band - Old Timey Risin’ Damp, Jones, Miller & Nelson - Possum on a Rail, unspecified - Sweet Sunny South, Crooked Still - *Angeline the Baker (some vocal content);
31s:  Richard Durrant - Billy in the Low Ground, Mason Williams or Various Artists - Ragtime Annie, Corrina Rose Logston - Laughing Boy, Bela Fleck – Rocky Road (2 + 32 bars), Hawktail - Abbzug (40s->31s), Bruce Molsky - John Brown’s Dream (some vocal content), Cotton-Eye Joe, Chance McCoy & the Appalachian String Band - Indian Ate a Woodchuck, Shelvin Rock, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper - Jerusalem Ridge, Aubrey Haynie - *Foolin’ Around, Foghorn Stringband - Grigsby’s Hornpipe, Art Stamper - *Jenny Lind, Sweet Dixie, Studio musicians - Flop-Eared Mule, Full Cord - Cluck Old Hen, Corrina Rose Logston - Sandridge, Mountain Heart - Barn Dance;
30s:  Mike Scott - *Sally Goodin, New Grass Revival - *Casey Jones, Broken Circle Breakdown Band, Krüger Brothers - *Reuben’s Train, Hot Buttered Rum - *Old Dangerfield, Water Tower Bucket Boys - Greasy Coat, Kenny Baker – Black Mountain Rag, The Bluegrass Album Band - Brown County Breakdown, Benton Flippen - Fly Around my Pretty Little Miss, Foghorn Stringband - Lost Girl, Craig Duncan - Ragtime Annie, Frank Blevins & Rattlers - Susannah Gal (FAmPLM?)/Old Aunt Betsy (both have some vocal content), Rhiannon Giddens - The Cuckoo (vocal content);
29s:  Aubrey Haynie - Hamilton Special, Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys - Tallahassee, Jim Mills - “Reuben”, Soggy Bottom Boys - Angeline the Baker, Chance McCoy & the Appalachian String Band - Jimmy Johnson, Aubrie Hanie - Bill Cheatham, Charlie Moore - Maple Sugar Reel, Art Stamper - Martha Campbell, Newton Boys or Kentucky Colonels - Alabama Jubilee;
28s:  Aubrey Haynie - Bill Cheathem, World’s Greatest Bluegrass Banjos - Farewell Blues, Andrew Vogts - *Sadie at the Back Door, Blue Ridge Boys - Sandy River Belle, Brittany Haas et al. - *Giardian Angel, Art Stamper - Red Apple Rag, Lost Mountain - Possum on a Rail, Chance McCoy et al. - Dance all Night… (some vocal content) Iron Mountain Band - Sugar Hill (some vocal content);
27s:  Bruce Molsky - Johnson City Rag, Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys - Big Sandy River, Nora Brown & Stephanie Coleman (at Pewter Sessions) - *Last Chance.

9.5s:  Hobart Smith - *Pretty Polly.

18s:  Babineau & Chartrand - Windsor Mills;  16s:  Mike Kerin et al. - Chicken Reel, The Bog/Foghorn Stringband - Nancy Rowland;  15s:  Gordon Terry - The Chicken Reel.

22s:  *Dirk Powell – Sally Ann;  21s:  Craig Duncan - Sally Ann;  19s:  Adam Hurt - Say Old Man (I Want Your Daughter).

26s:  Rattle on the Stovepipe - *Chinquapin Hunting;  24s:  Four Men and a Dog - Barlow Knife, Aubrey Haynie - Make a Little Boat, Mickey Raphael (Harmonica) - Oh Susanna;  22.5s:  Bruce Molsky - Last of Harris;  22s:  Hammer & String - *Say Old Man, Can I Have Your Daughter;  21s:  Various - The Humpback Mule;  20s:  Hobart Smith - Cripple Creek.

26s:  Brittany Haas & Friends - Shove the Pig’s Foot… /*Rebel Raid.

35s:  Pete Sutherland & Brad Kolodner - *Five Miles From Town, Ricky Skaggs - Montana Slim;  34s:  Aubrey Haynie - Creeks a Risin’;  31s:  Aubrey Haynie - Cherokee Shuffle.

42s:  Glenn Sutton - Green Bluegrass;  40s:  David Holt & Josh Goforth - *Billy Wilson;  38s:  Randall Franks, Fairchild, Shuler - Down Yonder.

47s:  Brittany Haas with Lauren Rioux & Avril Smith - Sullivan’s Hollow/Five Miles From Town;  39s:  Hobart Smith - *Cripple Creek.

Bluegrass Oddities:

27ish-bar in 26s:  Balsam Range - *Backdraft.
Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys - Crossing The Cumberlands (46s - step-hop).

Arcadian (’Cajun) dancing

Music tempo: c. 95 beats per minute.

Like so many dances, the chasée forms the basis of Cajun dancing.

Something simple to start: man chasées slightly forward and to the left then chasées right; lady follows him:  she chasées right, slightly backwards, followed by chasée left - anticlockwise around the floor.

Two-Step footwork - in 4/4 time, all shuffle steps, upper body relatively stiff.
Man: (8 beat) Move left foot diagonally left, close the right to the left, left, close the right to the left (or behind the left) with a tap (or kick diagonally to the right); change direction, move diagonally right with the right foot, close the left to the right, diagonally right, close left to right with a tap/kick-left.

Lady's twirl:  man spreads legs, couple two-handed lean back, pull together, then lady twirls Ccw. under man’s left arm.

A fun variation:  (man’s footwork is simply chasée left, followed by chasée right, rpt.)  Starting face-to-face (perhaps after completing a lady’s Ccw. spin), the lady holds only the man’s right hand with her left and she rotates half Ccw. to the left of her partner so that she’s standing beside him, facing the same way, on his right, with both arms wrapped in front of her.  He places his left hand behind his back so that his partner can hold it with her right.  They’re now side-by-side, both holding each other’s hands - right to left.  Still holding his partner’s r. hand, the man then releases his r. hand so that he can twirl once Ccw., passing in front of her.  They end up side-by-side again - but now he’s on the lady’s right.  She holds her left hand behind her back and he holds it with his right which is wrapped in front of him.  Repeat ad infinitum.

Cajun Music
42s: The Cajun All-Stars - Cousin Lilly;  40s: Lost Bayou Ramblers - Bayou Perdu;  39s: Jesse Lege and Friends - Mamou Hot Step;  36s: The Balfa Brothers - Indian On A Stomp.

Lissa Schneck - Lady Walpole's -
Great Bear - Jenny's Groove -
The Gardener -

Lake City - Weedwalker -