Country Dances

Last updated: 16 August, 2019

This document comprises instructions for performing a variety (Celtic, Gaelic, American) of country dances.  Dances are ordered, roughly alphabetically, by name.  However, about a dozen Contras and about a dozen American Square Dances have been separated-out at the end because they exhibit a number of differences from conventional country dances.

The instructions below have been plagiarized from a number of different sources (hence their inconsistent presentation) - often they’re just documented after actually doing the dance…  ‘n’ not only do dances evolve, often their precise interpretation can ‘flex’, to accommodate local circumstances.

These notes have been extracted from my MS ‘Word’-produced dance-calling aide memoir - exported as ‘html’, allowing me to reference the document remotely.  (Also, a rather less abridged version here.)

Country Dance music categories:  jig (“didley-dee”), reel, polka (triple-step, pause/hop)…  occasionally hornpipe (step-hop), rant (double-reel).  Usually, tunes comprise 32 bars (64 beats or steps) - four, 8-bar phrases, designated A1, A2, B1 and B2, i.e. four groups of 16 beats = 64 beats in total.  Occasionally, dances are 16 bars or 48 bars long.  Dance tempos are roughly 32 bars in 32 seconds (except hornpipes) - equating to a bar per second or two beats - or steps - per second.

I’ve made suggestions for recorded accompaniment to dances - categorised by type and tempo (expressed as the duration for ‘once through’) - but the flexibility and atmosphere provided by live accompaniment makes it more suitable.

Below, tune titles are shown in italicised text.  (‘Welcome to the Dance’, WttD, is a compilation Compact Disc set by the EFDSS.)

Col,  December 2018

Apple Tree Square

Music:  32-bar jig/reel.  37s: Tiger Moth - La Bastringue;  35s: Adam Agee & Jon Sousa - *The Maids of Holywell/Cor Pheait/… Reel set;  33s: The Gothard Sisters - Celebration Reel, Patrick Street - The Shores of Lough Gowna/Contentment is… (jig) set, Corrina Rose Logston - Charleston No. 1, Session Tunes - The Silver Spear/Gilbert Clancy’s/… (reel) set;  32s: Liz Carroll - *The Silver Spear/The Earl’s Chair/The Musical Priest, Ghurt-Yo-ghurt - The Musical Priest, Jenna Reid, Aly Bain and Friends - *Fiddle Blast, Patrick Street - Killanin’s Fancy/… Portobello/… (reel) set;  31s: Andrew Vogts - Rosin on the Gourd, *Boxing Reel, Dominique Dupuis - *Acadie;  31s jig: The Dunne Family - Strike the Gay Harp/Jimmy Ward’s set;  29s reel: Eliza Carthy - Mrs Capron’s Reel;  29s jig: John Carty - Munster Buttermilk/Old Favorite/Jimmy Ward’s/…  set, Danú - E Minor Jig/Jimmy Ward’s;  28.5s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - Jimmy Ward’s/Morning Star/… set;  28s jig: Banter - Jump at the Sun, Eliza Carthy & the Kings of Calicutt - Holm Band Tune/Dave Roberts’/Jemima’s Jug set.

Form:  Four couples in a square.

    * * *
A1:  Head couples (‘1’s and ‘3’s) go forward and back; ‘1’s cross-trail: ‘1’s cross the set to pass between ‘3’s - changing places with each other as they go (lady in front), separate and go back to place round the outside.

A2:  All do-si-do corner, do-si-do partner.

B1:  Allemande left with your corner;  give right hand to your partner and start a R-L Grand Chain (men proceed Acw round the circle, ladies Cw, by pulling past alternate people using alternate hands).

B2:  When you meet your partner, do-si-do and promenade home.

Repeat – with sides leading.

Alabama Jubilee

Music:  32-bar reel.  31s: Bela Fleck - Rocky Road (2 + 32 bars), Kenny Baker - Black Mountain Rag;  29s: The Newton Boys or Kentucky Colonels - Alabama Jubilee;  26s: Leahy - Alabama Jubilee/Bowing the Strings… .

Form:  One big circle (so, not a square dance).  All face-in, lady on man’s right.

    * * *
A1:  All join hands and move 4 steps into the middle… and out 4 steps, repeat.

A2:  Allemande left with neighbour (corner); do-si-do partner once-and-a-half…  and hold out right hand.  5 + 8 + 3 steps

B1:  Allemande right with the hand coming towards you, who’ll be your new partner.  End facing back towards your original partner; swing original partner.  Both end-up facing anticlockwise (Acw.) round the circle.

B2:  Promenade Acw. c. 10 steps round the circle.  Men move-on to their new partner…  all reform the circle and face in.  16 steps.

Arkansas Traveller

Music:  40-bar:  40s: David Holt & Josh Goforth - *Billy Wilson;  39s: Dominique Dupuis - *Say Old Man, Gravel Walk.

or traditional, 48-bar reel.  WttD CD 1, The Four Leaf Clover - 15 Arkansas Set [48-bar];  53s: Noel Hill - Duke of Leinster;  50s: Blazin’ Fiddles - *Fiddle Cushion.

{32-bar:  36s: 2nd South Carolina String Band - Arkansas Traveller;  33s: Geslison-Groberg - Arkansas Traveler Set… , Tom Anderson - Soldiers Joy, Lazy Farmer - (rant) Arkansas Traveller.}

Running step - “1-2-3-hop”?

Form:  Longways, proper, “as many as will” – best with an even number of couples (but not essential).

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.

40-bar Main Figure:

    * * *
A1:  ‘Balance’ to each side once (feet-together jump, kick the right foot to the left, jump/bounce, then kick the left foot to the right) and cross-over & turn.  Repeat to get back home.  (8 bars)

A2:  R. hand star, l. hand star.  (8 bars)

B1:  ‘1’ swing.  (8)

B2:  ‘1’s (crossing-over sides) lead down, turn as a couple, lead back and cast down a place.  (8)

C1:  Full ‘right and left thru'’.  (8)

or 48-bar alternative:

    * * *
A1:  Join hands along the line, lead forward and back.  (4 bars)

A1:  Change places (passing right shoulders) with your partner - and turn Cw. 180º (to the right).  (4 bars)

A2:  Repeat back to home place.  (8 bars)

B1:  In fours: make a right hand star.  (4)

B1:  Star left.  (4)

B2:  ‘1’s swing in the centre.  (8)

A3:  ‘1’s (crossing-over sides) lead down, turn as a couple (Cw.), lead home and cast down a place to the next ‘2’s.  (8)

B3:  Full ‘right and left thru'’ with the new couple.  (8)

Mrs Arrowsmith

Author:  Gordon Potts

Music:  Hornpipe or Polka.  45s hornpipe: Patrick Street - Down by the Old Fairy Fort/The Whistler… ;  41s hornpipe: Stömp - Scan Tester’s;  35s: Corrina Rose Logston - Honeycat Hornpipe;  Brian Roe - Sean Ryan’s Polka;  34s: Craig Duncan - Grandfather/Clarinet Polka set; 33s: Ghurt-Yo-ghurt - Sean Ryan’s Polka set;  32s: Art Stamper - Barndance Polka, Ronan Hardiman - *Irish Polka.

Form:  Four couples in a square.

    * * *

A1:  Head couples take one hand with partner and lead ‘forward’ four steps in to the middle of the set and ‘back’.

Head couples forward, then separate - taking their ‘opposite’ by the hand and turning to pass between their adjacent side couple (who’ll need to separate slightly)…  then each return to place.

A2:  Sides ‘forward & back’ four steps.

Side couples forward, separate and out, taking their ‘opposite’ between their adjacent head couple (who’ll need to separate slightly)…  and then each return to place.

B1:  Four-Ladies’ Chain: the ladies ‘right hand star’, men circulate Acw. round the outside to the next man’s place.  When the ladies encounter their partner (after completing ¾ circle - c. 5 steps), they ‘peel-off’ to meet him by the left hand and he courtesy turns her, Acw., around him. (c. 3 steps)

B1 & B2:  Repeat the ‘Chain’ (the ‘star’ and courtesy turn) a further three times (by which time men will have completed a circuit) … or, to ‘progress’, repeat twice then simply swing the third person - your new partner - for eight beats.)

Reel of Ballymore

Leslie Haworth

Music:  32-bar jig.  Welcome to the Dance, ‘WttD’, CD 2 - 01 Reel of Barrymore;  reel: Mick O’Brien & C O’R - Rolling in the Ryegrass set  (16 bars in 20s);  33s: Angelina Carberry - *Dermot Grogan’s/Hardiman’s;  32s: Trinculo - Drummond Castle/Shorty's Revenge and Any Jig Will Do;  31s: Natalie MacMaster - Mahone Bay Jig;  30s: Alban Fuam - *Hand Me Down the Tackle/Fermoy… /…  set, Adam Agee & Jon Sousa - An Giorra … (The Hare in the Corn)/… set, Liz Carroll - *The Champaign Jig Goes to Columbia, Open House - Devil’s Jig/The Trip to Bantry/… set.

Form:  Big circle mixer.

Difficulty: 2

    * * *
A1:  All into the middle for 4 steps and back out.  (4 bars)

Repeat.  (4 bars)

A2:  Promenade partner (‘Gay Gordons’-style) eight steps anti-clockwise, then, remaining in-hold, all turn back.  Men move-on to promenade the woman in front, eight steps clockwise - she is his new partner (ladies have moved-on one place… or men have moved-back one place).  End the promenade with partners facing - men facing out, ladies facing in.  (8 bars)

B1:  Facing your new partner, the person beside him/her on your diagonal left is your left-person and the person on the other side is your right-person.  (The left-person was your previous partner.)

You’re now going to Allemande these three people.  Walk a tight figure-of-eight: give right hand to pass your new partner, everyone turns their right-person halfway with the left hand to face their partner again.  Then, after passing their partner with right hands to face their left-person, everyone turns their left-person halfway with the left hand to face their partner again.

B2:  Long swing with partner (alternatively: ‘Balance & Kick’ and swing).

Belfast Duck

Music:  16-bar hornpipe;  23s:  WttD 1 - 20 Belfast Duck;  24s:  Banter-Bellowhead - Kafoozalum;

32 bars:  49s:  Altan - *Dance of the Honeybees;  41s:  Stömp - Scan Tester’s.

Form:  a large Sicilian circle, but men inside…  or also longways, duple i.e. ‘1’s and ‘2’s proper.  Step-hop (vigorous) or slow walk (gentle).

Difficulty: 1.

    * * *
A:  In fours, circle left, 8 steps;  circle right, 8 steps. (8 bars)

B:  Lead down the room (or clockwise, Cw.) with two slow walking steps (easiest to start on the outside foot) - taking inside hands; take both hands and do two chassés (side, close, side) down.

Ditto up the room - or anticlockwise (Acw.).

Ditto down the room.

Ditto up the room but ‘1’s, stationary, make an arch and ‘2’s either reverse, or turn to face forward, under it - so progressing.

On reaching an end, swap designation and ‘sit-out’ a turn.


Summary of B:

Down 2, chassé down 2, up 2, chassé up 2.

Down 2, chassé down 2, ‘1’s arch and ‘2’s pass under - so progressing.

Blaydon Races

Music:  32-bar march.  30s: ‘Welcome to the Dance’ (‘WttD’) CD 2 Greensleeves County Dance Band - 20 Blaydon Races/Tramp, tramp, tramp/Home Boys Home (.wma), Woodley Yeomen - 13 B. R. (mp3), 2nd South Carolina String Band - *Cripple Creek/Old Joe Clark/… .

Form:  circle or concentric circles.

    * * *
A1:  Join hands, go into the middle and back.  8 beats

A1:  Repeat (middle and back).  8 beats

A2:  Ballroom hold: a double chassé in, double chassé out, and swing/polka two turns.  16 beats

B1:  Cross-hand promenade (man towards the centre) eight steps.  During the last few steps, men move-on to the lady in front.  16 beats

B2:  ‘Balance’:  feet-together jump then, with weight on the l. f., swivel hips to kick r. f. to the left, jump, swivel hips to kick l. f. to the right, jump, kick r. f. to the left, jump, kick l. f. to the right.  8 beats

B2:  Couples cross-hand swing.  (Men finish with the new lady on their right.)  8 beats

Restart:  into the middle again.

The Bonny Breastknot

Music:  32-bar reel.  ‘WttD’ CD 1, Woodley Yeomen - B. B.;  36s: Liz Carroll & Doyle - *Ricky’s White Face/Boys … ;  35s: Corrina Rose Logston - *Highlander’s Farewell, The Elderberries - *Torn Jacket/Boy in the Boat/Toss … set;  34s: Máiréad Nesbitt - The Butterfly, Eliza Carthy - Scan Tester’s Country Stepdance/… (hornpipe);  33s: Altan - The Curlew/McDermott’s/Boxty, Celtic Fiddle Festival - *Le Printemps, Arty McGlynn - Walter Sammon's Grandmother/Concertina … set;  32s: Jenna Reid, Aly Bain and Friends - *Fiddle Blast, Liz Carroll - Lost Indian;  31s: Blazin’ Fiddles - *Miss Johnstone/Rannie MacLennan/… set.

Form:  Three-couple, longways set.

    * * *
A1:  ‘1’s lead down between the two ladies, separate (man down/lady up), cast round one person.  They meet in the middle, without taking hands, go between the men, separate, cast round one person to lines of three across (‘2’s facing down and ‘3’s facing up).

A2:  In those lines, ‘Balance & Kick’:  feet-together jump, swivel hips and kick to the left with right foot, two-footed jump/bounce, kick to the right with the left, jump/bounce and kick to the left, jump, kick to the right.  On the start of the next phrase, the first couple leap to their left to stand between the other two people of their gender.  This leap/jump counts as the first balance of another batch of feet-together jump, kick r. f. to the left, jump, kick to the right etc..

B1:  ‘1’s right-elbow half-turn their partner, then left with their first ‘corner’.  Right three-quarters turn with partner, left with their other ‘corner’.

B2:  ‘1’s meet (it doesn't matter on which side they end up) and gallop down and back to third place (progressed); all swing partners.

Borrowdale Exchange

Music:  32-bar reels.  13 B. E. (mp3 is lo-res;  36s: Sláinte - Scully’s Reel, Deanta - Scarta Glen Road set;  34s: Liz Carroll - Ronan Boys;  33s: Crannog - Red-Haired Lass/Blacksmith/Tulla, The Gothard Sisters - both The Bandit and Celebration Reel;  Chieftans - *Ladies’ Pantalettes (speeds from 34s to 30s per 32-bars).

Formation:  3-couple (with the lady on the man's right) in a circle.  Scatter mixer.

Difficulty: 1

    * * *
A1 (8 bars):  All circle left 8 steps… and back.

A2 (8 bars):  All advance into the middle four steps and back; do-si-do partner.

B1 (8 bars):  Right-hand star holding hands with person opposite and nobody else.  Finish by raising hands into an arch.

Undo the star:  keep holding hands - the lady whose hand is lowest goes under the arches (made by the other two couples) first, then the next lady.

B2 (8 bars):  Promenade (or polka) around the room for 4 bars… then form new, 3-couple sets.

Boston Tea Party

Author: Jean Butler

Music:  32-bar jig or reel;  36s: Dublin City Ceili Band - Behind the Bar/… /…;  34s: Patrick Street - Killanin’s Fancy set;  33s: Paddy Glackin - The Last House in Connaught/The Gooseberry Bush, Altan - The Curlew/McDermott’s/Boxty, The Tune Makers - The Bucks of Oranmore;  32s: Art Stamper - *Goodbye Girls, I'm Going to Boston, Martin OConnor et al. - *The Cooley set, Kilfenora Ceili Band - Three Reels (Medley), The Gothard Sisters - *The Landing;  31s jig: The Dunne Family - Strike the Gay Harp/Jimmy Ward’s;  30s jig: Adam Agee & Jon Sousa - An Giorra… (The Hare in the Corn)/… set.

Form:  5 or 6-couple longways.

    * * *
A1:  The top couple gallop down, two-handed, between the lines to the bottom of the set.

They arch up over the ladies’ line - man in the middle.

A2:  At the top of the set they arch down over the men - man stays in the middle.

They return, two-handed, up the middle to the top and, still holding inside hands, face down the set.

B1:  All couples, except the ‘1’s, face up the set.  The top couple ‘duck and dive’ down the set.

B2:  The top couple, now at the bottom, make an arch…  the new top couple, followed by the rest, cast-out, through the arch and back to place.  Swing.

Bottoms Up

Music:  32-bar jig/reel.  34s: Dulan - Reel of Rio/Fox Hunter;  33s: Crowdie House - *Blue Bonnets, Patrick Street - *The Shores of Lough Gowna/Contentment is … set, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas - Alien Ceilidh;  32s: Tiger Moth - Oats and Beans and Barley Grow, Trinculo - *Drummond Castle/Shorty’s … , Sean Mcguire - *Erin’s my Home/Larry O’Gaff;  31s: Fara - *Billy’s Short Leg;  15s jig: Blazin’ Fiddles - *Thursday Night in the Caley, Open House - Devil’s Jig/The Trip to Bantry/…  29s: Danú - Jim Ward’s, Howie MacDonald - Dan R’s Favourite/etc..

Form:  5-couple longways set.

Both lines hold hands.

    * * *
A1:  Bottom couple join free hands to make a horseshoe-shaped set.  Top two men make an arch.

Ladies ‘thread the needle’ - twice if spry enough (the ‘eye’ needs to moves forward - towards the ‘needle’).  Both the top two men need to ‘unwind’ their arch together.

A2:  Top two ladies make an arch.  Men ‘thread the needle’ - twice if spry enough.

B1:  Heads join hands to make a circle of ten, circle left & right.

B2:  Bottom couple gallop up to the top, where the top couple place their hands on the waists of the bottom couple, and the foursome gallop to the bottom - the original top couple go to the very bottom place.

Bridge of Athlone

Music:  48-bar jig.  ‘WttD’ II, CD 2, Greensleeves Country Band - B. of A./Rakes of Kildare/… Pipers set;  46s: Jon Boden et al. - *Bridge of Athlone;  53s: Greg Joy and various artists (faster) - *Blarney Pilgrim;  42s: Threepenny Bit - Coffee Zycanthos.

Form:  longways, four or five-couple sets.  Standing opposite partner, men have their left shoulder to caller, ladies with right shoulder to caller.

    * * *
Bars 1-8
Everyone joins hands in their lines and dances four steps forward-and-back (4 bars).  Passing partners by the r. shoulder, the men, keeping their hands joined and raising their arms above head-height, take eight steps to cross to the ladies’ side while the ladies duck under the men’s arch (to the left of partner) to cross to the men’s side.  All half-turn to the right.

Bars 9-16
Repeat back to places.

Bars 17-24
1st couple in each set gallop down the set for 8 steps and back for 8 steps.

Bars 25-32
1st couple followed by the other three couples cast-off down the back of their own sides and make an arch at the bottom.  The other couples pass through the arch and lead to the top of the set.

Bars 33-40
All now make a two-handed arch with their partner.  1st lady comes up under the arches while the 1st man goes up the outside of the set behind the men’s line.  Then the 1st man goes down under the arches while the 1st lady casts down to the bottom of the set behind the ladies.

Alternatively: 1st couple arch up the set over the men - lady in the centre - and back down the set over the ladies.

Bars 41-48
Everybody swing.

Repeat for the other three/four couples.

Chain Double Quadrille

Music:  48-bar jig.  50s: ITMA Staff - Humours of Ennistymon/ … Moher/… Ocean;  48s: Steeleye Span - The Mooncoin Jig;  47s: The Elderberries - Banish Misfortune;  45s: Kevin Burke - *The Humours of Ennistymon/Old as the Hills;  44s: Eliza Carthy - Zycanthos Jig/Tommy's… set;  42s: Threepenny Bit - *Coffee Zycanthos.

Form:  Double Sicilian.  (Need a wide room…  and at least 32 dancers.)  Two adjacent couples face another pair of couples in an extended, double-spoke of a wheel.  The first 32 beats can be danced with a travelling step, the remainder is ‘walked’.

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

    * * *
The middle four people r. h. star, then return to left arm turn their partners one-and-a-half times so they end-up changing places.  8 beats + 8 beats

The middle four people, who were the outer four people, r. h. star, then return to left arm turn their partners one-and-a-half times to finish back in their original place.  8 beats + 8 beats

‘Balance’ - two-footed jump, then jump onto l. leg, kick with right leg, then left leg, twice to partners and swing.  8 beats + 8 beats

Ladies’ Chain across the set, Ladies’ Chain down the set (the line).  8 beats + 8 beats

Ladies’ Chain across the set, Ladies’ Chain down the line.  8 beats + 8 beats

Holding hands down the line, forward and back.  8 beats

Forward and cross through (couples part and pass to the left of the facing couple) to the next set.  8 beats

La Champenoise/Chapelloise

A simple, progressive, two-hand, circle dance.

Music: 16-bar jig/gigue - Own tune.  33s: Die Irrlichter - Chapelloise;  31s: Duivelspack - Chapelloise;  15s: Blazin’ Fiddles - *Thursday Night in the Caley;  27s: Les Genoux - *Chapelloise/Jump at the Sun.

Form:  Circassian Circle.  Cercle Circassien.  For more than six couples.  Couples face Acw., men on the inside - so that each couple is a ‘spoke’ in a wheel.

Watch at:

    * * *
Promenade (man placing his right arm over his partner’s shoulders, and holding both partner’s hands - ‘Varsouvienne’-style) three steps forward (half-second paces), half-turn Cw. (Gay Gordons-style - still holding both hands), three steps back, touch/close.  (4 bars)  {"Hommes à gauch/interieur.  Dans le sens antihoraire:  Marche, marche, marche, tourn, recule, recule, recule, touch/pause."Variation: the man holds/collects the lady’s l. hand with his right hand, he turns Cw. to face the opposite direction round the circle and holds both the lady's hands (the couple'll need to extend their left arms).  He then walks backwards until the ‘half-turn’ (Acw.), after which, he’ll be walking forward and the couple’ll need to extend their r. arm instead.

Promenade three steps forward, half-turn Acw., three back - returning back to place - close.  Variation continues:  the man's seven steps are backwards, close, the lady’s last four steps are a Cw., under-arm twirl to place.  (4 bars)

Everyone faces Acw. around the circle - still holding their partner’s hands.  Couples pull together and do two Pas de Basque figures (or spring ‘in’ with either a little leap and ‘tap’… and spring out and ‘tap’), the man slides to the outside, feeding his partner across (she rotates Acw.) in front of him to his l. hand - so they swap places.  (4)

Couples pull together, spring apart…  then make an arch with their ‘inside’ arms for the lady to twirl Cw. under, offering her free hand to the following man - who collects her left hand with his left hand.  The lady rotates back, Acw., to face forward as her partner slides back to the ‘inside’ position and places his r. arm over her shoulders.  (4)

{"Tirer près ensemble.", "Side, touch", "Change de place - la fille passe devant le garçon, face-à-face", "En sa proche", "La fille passe en sous" - pas balancer/scoot}

Country Bumpkin

Author:  Michael Barraclough

Music: 32-bar, versatile.  36s reel: Trinculo - Touchstone/London’s Glory;  35s reel: Sláinte Mhath - *The White Crow;  34s reel: Celtic Music (Various) - Maid Behind the Bar/Gravel Walk, Tom Doherty - The Three Sisters Reel, Dulan - Reel of Rio/Fox Hunter;  33s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - *Le Printemps, The Four Star Trio - Reel of Rio/The Belles of Tipperary, Brendan Carey Block - *Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie;  32s reel: Celtic Fiddle Festival - *Reel À Tido/La Rachoudine, Danú - The Stone in the Field/The Walls of Liscarrol, Jenna Reid, Aly Bain and friends - *Fiddle Blast;  31s reel: Andrew McNamara - *The Humours of Tulla (16-bar)/The Skylark/Roarin’ Mary, Caitlin Warbelow, Cuomo et al. - *…/Sporting Paddy/Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie’s/Road to Errogie set;  31s jig: The Dunne Family - Strike the Gay Harp/Jimmy Ward’s;  29s: Danú - E Minor Jig/Jimmy Ward’s.  Reel/jig set starting slowly, speeding to 31s: Waxies Dargle - Parting Glass/Brown Gate/… .

Formation: Longways, 5 or 4 couples.

    * * *
A1:  Lines forward and back.  4 bars

A1:  Men arch, couples cross over - passing by the right shoulder.  4 bars

A2:  ‘1’s gallop down, two-handed, to the bottom of the set and back up.  8 bars

B1:  The ‘1’s, facing each other (the rest facing ‘up’) start a Grand Chain - initially by passing by the right hand, then carrying on down the opposite line - the others follow.  When they meet at the bottom, the ‘1’s make an arch.  8 bars

B2:  The 2nd couple lead their remaining line outside the arch, up through it and back to progressed places…  swing - if there’s time.  8 bars

Cotton-Eye Joe - Circle Dance (progressive mixer)

Music:  16-bar (32 step) Bluegrass polka.  17s: Geslison & Groberg - Cotton Eye Joe;  31s: Bruce Molsky, Rednex (29s) - C.-E. J..

Form:  Two, adjacent, concentric circles - all the men, in the inner circle, face Acw., their partners face Cw. in the outer circle.

Source: YouTube.

Sounds impressive on suspended wooden floor-boards.

Brace right hands (hands open, at chest height, palms vertical, facing oneself) with one’s partner.

    * * *
A:  With the right foot, stomp, stomp, chassé right, i.e. ‘side-close-side’.  Swap hands whilst crossing in front of one’s partner.  (2 bars)

A:  With the left foot, stomp, stomp, chassé left, and swap hands.  (2 bars)

A:  Repeat.  (4 bars)

For the last 8 bars, either:

B:  Allemande right to turn one’s partner once Cw..  (4 bars)

Advance 8 steps forward to partner the next-but-one person.  (4 bars)


B:  Right elbow-turn one’s previous partner ½ Cw., left elbow-turn one’s current partner ½ Ccw., right elbow-turn the next person (your next partner) once, ready to restart - facing around the circle.  (8 bars)

Cumberland Square Eight

Music:  64-bar reel.  35s: Boden et al. - C. S. E.;  32s: WttD CD 2, Greensleeves Country Band - C. S. E.;  33s: Brittany & Natalie Haas and Friends - Bill Malley’s/*The E-B-E Reel, Jim Macleod Band - My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet.

Form:  Square set.

    * * *
A1:  Heads gallop across the set in a ballroom hold (men back-to-back) and return (women back-to-back).

A2:  Sides do the same.

B1:  Heads right hand star, left hand star.

B2:  Sides do the same.

C1:  Heads make a basket: grip both opposite’s hands (ladies’ underneath men’s) - men may need to ‘interlock’ hands.  The ladies bow, go forward under the men’s arms and, still holding hands, raise back up - keeping their arms up.  Men lower their arms behind the ladies’ backs, and duck their heads under their ladies’ arms.  All circle left.

C2:  Sides do the same.

D1:  All circle left for 16 steps.

D2:  Promenade back to place.

Repeat - but with ‘side’ couples leading.

The Dashing White Sergeant

Music:  32-bar reels.  32s:  The Jingbang Ceilidh Band - The Dashing White Sergeant/Kate Dalrymple/Barrowburn;  31s: Crowdie House, and Shoestring - The D. W. S., The Chieftans - *Ladies Pantalettes (speeds-up from 34s per rpt. to 30s).

Form:  One big circle of sets each comprising three people facing three people i.e. a man between two ladies or lady between two men.  (If there are more than two surplus ladies, one of them can replace one of the men in a two-man ‘threesome’.  The ousted man can then make an additional ‘threesome’ with two surplus ladies.)

    * * *
1-8:  Join hands in a circle of 6 and circle round to the left for 8 steps (4 bars) and then back to the right.

9-12:  The person in the middle of the threesome turns to the person on their right and sets to them, then, by the right hand (variation: both hands), turns them around Cw. once.  The other partner stands still.

13-16:  Repeat with the other partner.

17-24:  Dance a reel of three, passing right shoulder with 1st partner to start.  (Variation: cup r. elbows to half-turn 1st partner, then l. elbow with 2nd partner, then 1st partner, then 2nd partner.)

25-28:  In lines of three, advance two skip-steps and retire…  alternative: forward, stomp, stomp, stomp… back, stomp, stomp, stomp.

29-32:  Both lines dance forwards, one line (say ‘1’s) raise their hands in an arch and the other line dancing underneath (passing opposites by the right shoulder).

Dance-on to meet and repeat with the next, advancing set of three.

If the room’s not wide enough for the large circle, the dance can be done in lines.  On alternate ‘goes’, a threesome will be left spare at each end…  they just turn around, as individuals, to face towards the rest of the dancers, miss the circling (1–8), then carry-on as normal.

Danish Double Quadrille

Music:  64-bar marches.  ‘WttD’ CD 2 (4-bar intro.) 03 D. D. Q.

Form:  Double Sicilian - 2 couples side-by-side facing 2 couples.

Difficulty: 2

    * * *
A1:  All four couples, in their set, circle left for 16 steps (twice as long as you’d expect).

A2:  Circle right for 16 steps - back to place.

B1:  The outside two couples take inside hands, and lead between the others towards the middle of the big circle and back.

B2:  The inside two couples likewise lead to the outside of the circle and back.

A3:  Right and left through in fours… and back.

A4:  In fours, circle left 8 steps and then right.

B3 and B4:  Each couple dance (polka-step? pas-de-bas?) right round the opposite couple two or three times, then go half-way round again to progress and form a new line ready to restart.

The Devil’s Dream

Music:  32-bar American reel.  WttD CD1 (2-bar intro.) - 05 Devil’s Dream;  35s: Bucketboy Bluegrass Band, Bryan Sutton (33s) - *Kitchen Girl;  34.5s: Caladh Nua - *By Heck;  34s: Govannen - *Billy in the Low Ground/Blackberry Blossom;  30s: Ray Price - D. D.;  29s: unidentified bluegrass band (fiddle, banjo, guitar) - D. D.;  28s: Leahy - D. D..

Form:  Longways, ‘1’s improper (Improper Contra) - “As many as will”.  Skipping step for A1 & A2.

Take ‘hands down the line’ in fours.

    * * *
A1:  ‘1’s face down the centre and lead (all the way) down while the ‘2’s go up the outside.  4 bars

All half-turn alone and lead back to give their neighbour e.g. ‘1’ man with ‘2’ lady, a nearest short-arm half-turn.  4 bars

A2:  ‘1’s, facing down, go down the outside, while ‘2’s go up the middle.  4 bars

All turn alone and lead back - where men give their neighbouring lady a ¾ turn (so progressing) into…  4 bars

B1:  Ladies’ Chain across the set… and back.  4 bars + 4 bars

B2:  Promenade that person (i.e. neighbour) across the set - passing to the right of the oncoming couple.  (Ladies could add a flourish by twirling Cw. under the man’s l. arm as she half-circles around him.)  Half ‘right and left through’ (back into ‘progressed’ place) - ready to restart.  ‘End’ couples need to turn around (as a pair) and change their designation.  Note the new contrary dancer (i.e. new neighbour).  4 bars + 4 bars

Dorset Four Hand Reel

Tends to be performed by Morris sides rather than socially.

Music:  2 x 64 + 8 bars, AABB + 8 final swing; rant, WttD II - 06 Dorset Four Hand Reel.wma;  33s per cycle (sprightly!): Blowzabella - D. F. H. R..

Form:  cross-ways 2-couple set, ladies back-to-back in the middle facing out towards their partner.

    * * *
A1:  Hey (reel of four), all start by passing right shoulders.  After 1¾ circuits (10 places), men are in the middle facing each other – and with a new partner.

A2:  Men ‘set’ to each other i.e. pas de basque (3 steps) - twice to each side.

A2:  Men turn to their partner and ‘set’ to her.

B1:  Hey, all leading with right shoulders.  Stop when ladies are back in the middle facing each other (after 10 places).

B2:  Ladies ‘set’ to each other - twice to each side.

B2:  Ladies turn to their partner and ‘set’ to him.

So, first time through: walking reel, then walking reel with hands, (or: step-hop reel, step-hop reel with hands), ranting reel (“heel” stepping), ranting reel with hands.  Each reel ends-up with ‘inners’ having swapped with previous ‘outers’.

Final 8 bars – swing partner.

Eightsome Reel

Music: Lively reels, played 40 bars for the first time through, plus 8 lots of 48-bar repetitions (phrased 24+24), plus a final 40 bars (464 bars: 40 + 8x48 + 40).  The De’il Amang the Tailors is commonly used for the first and last 40 bars.  {Neizvesten - Eightsome Reel.mp3}

Formation: Square, lady on the man’s right.  1st couple have their backs to the band.


1-8:  All join hands to circle round to the left for 8 steps (four bars) and back.

9-12:  Ladies join right hands in the middle, partners join-in putting right hands around their partner’s waist, and all wheel in a big star.

13-16:  Swing round (couples still holding around the waist) so the men join left hands in the centre, and dance back with a left hand star.

17-20:  Face partners and set twice.

21-24:  Turn partner.

25-40:  Giving right hand to partner, dance a grand chain around the set (keep going in the same direction then give left hand, right, left… until you get back to place).  If you get back early, swing until the end of the phrase.

    * * *
Main Figure - repeat 8 times

1-8:  1st lady goes into the centre of the set and ‘set’s while the other seven circle round to the left and back.

9-16:  1st lady sets to partner, turns him, sets to opposite man and turns him.

17-24:  1st lady dances a reel of three with partner and opposite man, giving left shoulder to partner to start.  (Variation – lady turns partner, opposite man, partner, opposite man).

25-32:  Repeat bars 1-8.

33-48:  Repeat bars 9-24, but with 2nd and 4th men - starting reel by passing left shoulder.  1st lady retires.
Repeat figure with, in the centre, 2nd lady, 3rd lady, 4th lady, 1st man, 2nd man, 3rd man, 4th man.


Repeat the 40 bars of the start of the dance.

The Foula Reel - pronounced ‘Fooler’

Music: 32-bar jig:  39s: Spaelimenninir - Da Shaalds o’Foula, Steamboat Quickstep (31s), or good to a step-hop tune.  WttD CD1, The Ranchers - 07 Jigs: Lady Mary Douglas/Jump at the Sun/There Came a Young Man or The Falconers - Foula Reel;  34s: The Kilfenora Band - Jig It/… set;  33s: Ale Möller – after 2m08 (but slow until 3m19) Unst Bridal March/Maggie O’Ham/Foula Reel.

Form:  4-couple longways.

Difficulty: 2 - the poussette can be unfamiliar.

    * * *
A1 and A2:  ‘1’s lead down the middle of the set.  At the bottom they turn with a right short-arm or cupped-elbow (no thumbs!) to ‘Strip the Willow’ back up (“right arm to your partner, left arm to the line” i.e. the opposite gender).

B1:  Back at the top, ‘1’s make an arch (with the man inside) and carry it down over the men’s heads, then back over the ladies’ heads.

B2:  Poussette – All couples take two hands.  The 1st couple poussette to the bottom of the set: the 1st man pushes his partner (4 steps) while all the other men initially pull their lady.  The 1st couple weave their way down the set alternately pushing and pulling, weaving in and out, passing each other couple in turn as they go to and fro’ down the set.

Four around Four

Music:  32-bar jig.  ‘WttD’ CD 1 - 07 jigs;  33s: Patrick Street - *The Shores of Lough Gowna/Contentment is … set, Mark Arrington - Kesh Light Jig set;  31s: Fara - Billy’s Short Leg, The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra - *Jake's Jig/Going to the Well for Water/… set, Séamus Egan - Garrett Barry’s/The Hag at the Churn,  Alasdair Fraser & Paul Machlis - Calliope House/Cowboy Jig;  30s: The Bothy Band - The Kesh Jig/Give Us a Drink/… set, Danú - Brown Eyed Bridget, Lissa Schneckenburger - *Jimmy Boyles/The Roaring Bar Maid/…;  29s: Blazin’ Fiddles - Braehead Cottage.

Form:  Four-couple longways.  Easy.

    * * *
1-8:  Lines hold hands.  First woman pulls her line around the outside of the men.

9-16:  First man pulls his line around the ladies.

17-24:  Top couple gallop to the bottom and back.

25-32:  Top couple cast out, form an arch at the bottom, all pass under, and swing.

next 1-8:  New first woman pulls her line around a new line of men.

Goathland Square Eight

Music:  32-bar rant.  35s: ‘WttD’ CD1 - 03 G. S. E.;  38s: Trinculo - Old Mrs Wilson.

Form:  4-couple square set, rant step throughout except for A2 and swing.

Sing (during A1):
Old Mrs Wilson how d’you do?
Very well thank you - how about you?
Some folk laugh and some folk cry
But you’ll never do the dance if you never try

    * * *
A1 (4 bars):  Holding hands, circle left.

A1 (4 bars):  circle right.

A2 (2 bars):  ‘1’s and ‘3’s cross, ‘3’s arching, ‘1’s dipping.

A2 (2 bars):  ‘2’s and ‘4’s cross, ‘4’s arching, ‘2’s dipping.

A2 (2 bars):  ‘1’s and ‘3’s return, ‘1’s arch.

A2 (2 bars):  ‘2’s and ‘4’s return, ‘2’s arch.

B1 (4 bars):  Grand chain (start with right hand to partner).

B1 (4 bars):  halfway round - swing partner.

B2 (4 bars):  continue grand chain (passing partner, but offering one’s left hand to the next dancer).

B2 (final 4 bars):  meet partner and swing.

repeat from start…

The Heartbreaker

Music:  32-bar jig/reel or Charleston (Goodman/Steamchicken-style).  50 bars per minute (bpm): Mrs Mills, Bing Crosby (51 bpm), Viscounts (54 bpm) or Don Reno (60 bpm) - Five Foot Two, French Charleston Orchestra - Ain’t She Sweet (53 bpm);  The Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra - Yes Sir, That’s My Baby (61 bpm).  For slower Charleston, one could use a swaggering gait.

32s reel:  Natalie Macmaster - The Beaumont Rag.

Jig:  29s (so slow it by c. 10%): Black Donald - *Stool of Repentance.

A 64-bar finale:  32 bars in 31s: Michael Holliday - *Swanee (8-bar intro, then from 0m08 to 1m09).

Form:  Four-couple square.

Watch us doing it at: - video by SHOCC organiser, Ian Nichols.
    * * *
A1:  All holding hands, circle left for 8 steps (ranting - if proficient).  (4 bars)

Circle right for 8 steps (back to place).  (4 bars)

A2:  Three couples - not the Head couple - make a single-handed arch with their partner.  The Head couple ‘Split the Heart’:  they dance in to the middle of the set, then, as individuals, dance out the set - each through their adjacent arch, round the outside of the set to meet and join hands (man on the left) at the bottom, back in under that arch and cross the set (where the lady can, if she wishes, twirl forwards, Acw., under her partner’s r. arm) back to place.  (8 bars)

B1:  Four Ladies Chain:  ladies right hand star for half-a-turn, peeling-off to meet the opposite man by the left hand.  The man then courtesy turns her (or, as a flourish, the lady meets him with an underarm Cw. twirl - Rock ‘n’ Roll-style - he checks her trajectory ready to fling her back) to…  (4)
…continue the Four Ladies Chain, back to her partner (where, if inclined, the lady can raise her partner's hand with her left hand to twirl backwards, Cw., under it).  The man half-turns her around him - gliding into…  (4)

B2:  …everyone do-si-do their corner/neighbour, then do-si-do their partner…  and swing if time.  (8)

Repeat:  Circles, then the next couple Acw. ‘Split the Heart’.

To progress occasionally:  for the ‘return’ Ladies’ Chain, call “Ladies continue circling to the third man round”.

Hullichan’s (Hooligan) Jig

Music:  6/8 or 9/8 jig – but 64 bars in total.  34s: The Jingbang Ceilidh Band - Hullichan’s/The Curlew/Skyeman’s/Troy’s …;  33s: Dave Swarbrick - Hullichan’s Jig/!Chorus Jig (both are very short, Chorus is too fast);  30s: James Keane - *The Geese in the Bog.

Form:  Sets of two couples crossways, ladies in the middle standing back-to-back facing their partners, i.e.  M-L l-m

Preparation: as swinging can get a bit boisterous, each set should have men of similar physique i.e. size and weight.  Demonstrate a Pas-de-Basque step.

    * * *
1-8:  Everyone Pas-de-bas (P-d-b) their partner for 16 beats i.e. 8 bars

9-16:  Link right arms and turn partner (see below) for 16 beats (ensure that all dancers are proficient at the swing hold described below), but men finish facing each other in the centre of the set. -  L-M m-l

17-24:  Men P-d-b each other 16 beats, ladies admire.

25-32:  Men link arms/elbows and swing each other for 16 beats, but finish facing their opposite lady. -  L-m M-l

33-40:  P-d-b new partner for 16 beats.

41-48:  Link arms and swing new (original ‘opposite’) partner for 16 beats, but ladies finish facing each other in the centre of the set. -  m-L l-M

49-56:  Ladies P-d-b to each other for 16 beats, men admire.

56-64:  Ladies link arms and swing each other for 16 beats, but finish facing their original partners. -  m-l L-M

Repeat - as desired.

The stable ‘swing’ or ‘turning’ hold:  link right elbow with one’s partner’s, put your left hand behind your back (palm facing outwards – as is natural).  With one’s right hand, grip one’s partner’s left hand i.e. the one behind one’s partner’s back.

Jack’s Maggot

Music:  32-bar reel.  Own tune:  33s: Tasker’s Chance - Newcastle/Jack’s Maggot.

or: 40s (then 32s): Adam Agee & Jon Sousa - *John Brennan’s/Man of the House;  34s: Sharon Shannon - Bonnie Mulligan, Séamus Egan - Poultry in the Parlour/Rolling in the Ryegrass.

Form:  longways, duple, proper. “As many as will”.

Take hands - four from the top.  Couples with their backs to the stage are ‘1’s.

    * * *
A1:  1st man crosses down between the two ladies, passing second woman by the right shoulder.  They hey (so top lady faces down the line) - ending with the man back in his place.

A2:  1st lady goes down between the two men, passing second man by the left shoulder.  They hey (so top man faces down the line).

B1:  (In pairs of couples) right hand star, left hand star back.

B2:  1st corners cross (with right shoulder leading), 2nd corners cross.

B2:  Hands-four (circle left) half-way round, 1st couple cast outside ‘2’s, into ‘2’s place as 2nd couple lead up.

Lucky Seven

Music:  32-bar jigs/reels, ‘WttD’ CD 2 Greensleeves Country Dance Band - 11 Lucky Seven, or 34s: Sharon Shannon reels - *The Woodchoppers, *Bag of Cats or *Bonnie Mulligan, Gerry O’Connor - *Mountain Road/Ash Plant/Josie McDermott’s, La Famille Arsenault - *La Reel Mon Oncle Albert/Whiskey Before Breakfast;  33s: Abrams Brothers - Nashville Skyline Rag, Arty McGlynn - Walter Sammon’s Grandmother/Concertina Reel/Brendan … ;  31s reel: Rún - *Road to Lisdoonvarna, Ceilidh Minogue - King’s Reel/… Laoish/Janine’s … /… set, The Demon Barbers - *Kiss Me Quick My Mammy’s … ; 30s jig: Lissa Schneckenburger - *Jimmy Boyles/The Roaring Bar Maid/… .

Form: circle mixer.  Avoid having multiples of six couples.

Difficulty: 1

Start standing side-by-side with your partner (lady on the right) and all holding hands in a circle.

    * * *
A1:  All Circle left for 8 steps.  4 bars

A1:  Four steps in, four steps out.  4 bars

A2:  Do-si-do neighbour; do-si-do partner.  8 bars

B1:  Grand chain:  everyone face partner, all the men go anticlockwise (Acw.), all the ladies go clockwise.  Take right hands, count “One” and pass partner, hold out left hand to the next person, count “Two” and go past, etc..  8 bars

B2: Swing the seventh person.  Taking a crossed, two-hand hold with your new partner (one person crosses their arms and the other takes their hands), swing clockwise round for 16 steps.  8 bars

When dancers are proficient, call “Now swing the eighth person”.

Maid of the Mill

Music:  32-bar reel.  35s: Adam Agee & Jon Sousa - *The Maids of Holywell/Cor Pheait/… Reel set;  34s: Tom Doherty - The Three Sisters Reel, Máiréad Nesbitt - *The Butterfly, Kevin Burke - The Doon Reel/…  set;  33s: The Tune Makers - The Bucks of Oranmore, Brittany & Natalie Haas and Friends - Bill Malley’s/*The E-B-E Reel, Celtic Fiddle Festival - *Le Printemps, Brendan Block - Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie’s;  32s: Malachy Doris - *Bonnie Kate, Dominique Dupuis - *Westburne Reel (Andy Renwick’s Ferret), Celtic Music - Doherty Reel set, Natalie MacMaster - Catharsis, Kilfenora Ceili - Sheehan’s/Merry Blacksmith/… , Blazin’ Fiddles - **Fashion, Leahy - *Seamus Coynes;  31s: Alban Fuam - The Congress Reel, Andrew Vogts - The Rosin on the Gourd, Caitlin Warbelow & Cuomo - *Headlands March/Sporting Paddy/Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie’s/Road to Errogie set, The Demon Barbers - *Kiss Me Quick/My Mammy’s … ;  30s: Banter - Harpers Frolic/Bonny Kate.

Form:  Longways, “As many as will”.

Take hands - four from the top.  Couples with their backs to the stage are ‘1’s.

    * * *
A1:  ‘1’s r. h. turn (palm-inward Allemande) twice.  Then they cast around ‘2’s to stand between them - to make a line of four, all facing up.

A2:  All four abreast walk three steps forward (‘up’ the set), kick, still facing up - three reverse steps, kick, three steps forward, kick, three steps back, kick.

B1:  Holding hands in circles of four, circle left (Cw.) eight steps, right eight steps.

B2:  R. h. star, then l. h. star back.

Restart the dance from a progressed place, i.e. the ‘1’s move down the line to their next ‘2’s.  Single couples left at either end swap their designation e.g. from a ‘2’ to a ‘1’…  and ‘sit out’ one ‘go’.

Mouth of the Valleys

Author:  Gordon Potts

Music:  32-bar, versatile, reel is good.  38s (“Plenty of time for some creative twirling”): Angelina Carberry - Pluckin’ Mad;  37s: Danú - *Cameron Highlander, Liz Carroll - both *Ricky’s White Face and Smokies in Arbroath;  34s: Jerry Holland - *Horse Tigers/Billy Macleod’s, The Brock McGuire Band - *The Moving Cloud, Keith Smith - *The 9lb Chicken, Solas - *Sproggies, Caladh Nua - *By Heck, Neil Gourley - *Heights of Muingbhatha;  33s: The Gothard Sisters - The Bandit and Celebration Reel, Ashley & D MacIsaac - Silver Spear set, Tune Makers or Shaskeen Céilí Band - *Bucks of Oranmore, We Banjo 3 - Road to Eirogee/President Gardfield;  32s: Kevin Griffin - *Green Mountain, Malachy Doris - *Bonnie Kate, Lissa Schneckenburger - Melissa without the “Me”/Eric’s… .  Reel/jig set starting slowly, speeding to 31s: Waxies Dargle - Parting Glass/The Brown Gate/… set.

Form:  Five/six/seven couples in a circle - all facing in.

    * * *
A1:  Men dance/walk a figure-of-eight:  first Cw. around their partner (r. h. lady) then Acw. around their neighbour (l. h. lady).  8 bars

A2:  Ladies dance/walk a figure-of-eight:  first Cw. around their partner (l. h. man) then cross-over to go Acw. around their neighbour (r. h. man).  8 bars

B1:  Men half-turn their partner by either a ‘short’ right arm, i.e. a forearm grip, or ‘cupped’ elbow - but no thumbs! - then half-turn their l. h. lady by the left arm, half-turn their partner again.  Offering their left hand back to their l. h. lady (their new partner), men (only) curl ½ Acw. to face Acw. around the circle - placing their r. arm over their new partner’s shoulders.  8 bars

B2:  New couples promenade (‘Varsouvienne’-style) (Acw.) around the circle - very roughly back to place - and face one's partner in the re-formed circle.

Nottingham Swing

Music:  16-bar hornpipe, e.g. a 32-bar hornpipe played without the usual repeats).  24s: ‘WttD’, CD 2, Greensleeves Country Band - 16 Nottingham Swing (Philebelula All the Way/Paddy McGinty’s Goat/Country Garden);  24s: Banter/Bellowhead - *Kafoozalum;  23s: Jon Boden - 10 Nottingham Swing (FSCD002, 2005), John Carmichael Band - Canadian Barn Dance.

32-bar:  56s: Déanta - (0m22) *King of the Blues;  50s: Ardan - *The Boys of Bluehill/Off to California {from Dancing With The Celts}, Altan - *Dance of the Honeybees;

Formation:  longways, as many as will, duple, proper.  ‘Step-hop’.

Difficulty:  Moderate.

    * * *
Take hands in fours from the top.

A bars 1-4:  1st man and 2nd lady meet to turn by right elbow.

A bars 5-8:  1st lady and 2nd man meet to turn by right elbow.

B bars 9-12:  ‘1’s take two hands to chassé two steps down the set and two steps back, then cast outside the ‘2’s.  All the 1st couples have progressed down a place.

B bars 13-16:  all swing (cross-hand hold).

End couples sit-out one turn and change their designation from a ‘2’ to a ‘1’ - or vice versa.

Orcadian ‘Strip the Willow’

Music:  Often 6/8 or 9/8 double jigs.

33s: Altan - The Curlew set;  32s: Waxies Dargle - Father O’Flynn/Irish Washerwoman/Blackberry Blossom;  30s: Brendan Mulhaire - Hag with the Money,  Leahy - Wedding Day;  29s: Spinach for Norman - Road to Dublin/The Foxhunters Jig/Drops of Brandy set.

Double jigs:  31s: The Blue Rock Boys - Doctor O’ Neill’s;  27s: Morga - James McMahon's Favorite/Gold Ring/Orphan, Blazin’ Fiddles - *The Jigs.

24-bar:  23s: Dominique Dupuis - *Mom’s Jig/Cape Breton Dream.

40-bar:  34s: The House Band - The Zakynthos Jig.

Slip Jigs:  35s: Altan - A Fig for a Kiss, Anne Marie Hildebrandt - Sixpenny Money/The Creel of Turf, The McNamara Family - The Barony Jig/The Leitrim Quickstep/Moll Roe;  32s: Dave Swarbrick - *Sheagh of Rye;  31s: Natalie Macmaster - *David’s Jig, Eileen Ivers - *The Humors of Ballyloughlin/Knocknagow;  30s: Noel Hill & Liam O’Connor - Foxhunter’s Slip Jig, James Keane - *Geese in the Bog.

Reels:  35s: Kevin Burke - Bus Stop Reel set, Natalie Macmaster - Olympic Reel… ;  34s: Ally the Fiddle - Catharsis.

    * * *
The Orcadian Strip the Willow dance comprises a linear, continuous, double Strip the Willow for ‘as many as will’.  Each top couple commence half-a-dozen bars after the previous top couple.  Couples can join, or leave, the dance as desired, at the bottom of the line.

OXO Reel

Author: John Tether

Music: 32-bar jigs/reels.  36s: Jon Boden et al. - 11, OXO Reel (FSCD002, 2005);  35s: unidentified - (0m04) OXO Reel;  33s: Dominique Dupuis - *Jack Daniels’.

Formation:  6-couple longways, duple, proper.

Difficulty: 1

    * * *
A1:  Lines go forward and back.  Tops gallop to the bottom.

A2:  Lines go forward and back.  Original ‘2’s gallop to the bottom.

B1:  Top two couples circle left; bottom two couples circle right; middle two right hand star - OXO!  Then back the other way.  (8 steps + 8 steps)

B2:  2nd couple (now at the bottom) gallop to the top; all swing.

Panshanger Sicilian Circle

by Barry Goodman

Music:  32-bar polka or jig.  32s jigs: Tiger Moth - Oats and Beans and Barley Grow, Alban Fuam - The Wishing Well/Apples in Winter/… set;  32s polkas: Art Stamper - Barndance Polka, Ronan Hardiman - *Irish Polka;  30s: Danú - Brown-Eyed Bridget;  31s polka: Sláinte - Britches full of Stitches/Munster Bank/Bill Sullivan’s set;  29s: Blazin’ Fiddles - Braehead Cottage, The Bothy Band - Old Hag… set;  28s: The Elderberries - *Old Hag… set (some vocal content), Reelroad - *Maurice Manley’s/Egan’s Polka [6¾ min. long];  27s: Green Lands - Maurice Manley’s/Ballydesmond Polka/Bill Sullivan’s Polka.

Form:  Sicilian Circle.

In circles of four, holding hands:

    * * *
1-4:  Circle left eight quick-ish steps.

5-8:  Still holding hands, circle right.

9-12:  Do-si-do partner.

13-16:  Do-si-do opposite.

16-24:  Ladies’ chain.

25-26:  ‘1’s arch and ‘2’s duck under.

27-28:  ‘2’s arch and ‘1’s back under.

29-32:  ‘1’s arch and ‘2’s duck under to progress-on to the next couple.

Pat-a-Cake Polka

Music:  16-bar polka.  ‘Welcome to the Dance’ (WttD) CD 1 - 19, The Blue Mountain Band - Nick Nack Paddywack/Little Brown Jug/Polly Wolly Doodle/So-so Polka;  2nd South Carolina - Buffalo Gals (vocals);  Geslison-Groberg - Cotton-Eye Joe (16 bars in 17s);  15s: Sham Rock - Tell Me Ma;  14.5s: Gaelic Storm - Tell Me Ma.

Form:  Couples in a circle: the men face Acw., ladies face Cw. - or, if space is limited, two concentric circles - ladies on the outside facing in, their partners facing out.

    * * *
With both arms stretched out to the side, hold hands with partner.

Men ‘heel-toe’ with their left foot, ladies with their right foot.  ‘Heel’ into the circle (or, if space is limited, Acw. around the circle) and ‘toe’ (heel by ball of outer foot) … repeat.  4 beats

Slide/chassé 4 times (8 steps) to man’s left i.e. into the middle of the circle (or Acw. round the circle).  4 beats in total

With outside foot, ‘heel-toe’ twice towards the outside (or Cw.).  4 beats

Slide/chassé 4 steps - back to place.  4 beats

Clap right hands with partner three times (fast-ish), clap left hands with partner three times.  4 beats

Clap both partner’s hands three times, clap own thighs/knees three times.  4 beats

Either progress:

Right elbow turn once.  4 beats

Continue-on, passing one’s partner (men go Acw.) to the next person round.  4 beats

or: keep the same partner and polka around.  8 beats

Variation:  Change Places (using about five steps) - cross to the left of partner while also turning Acw. (so back-to-back) once as you pass, then march on-the-spot - hands on hips, raise alternate feet.  8 beats in total.


Music:  Own 32 bar tune.  35s: Lissa Schneckenburger - Petronella;  33s: The Boys of the Lough - The Lancers/Petronella/… .

Form:  Longways, ‘2’s improper, "as many as will" (hands four from the top).

    * * *
A1:  ‘1’s Petronella turn: rotate ¾ Cw. while also moving Acw. into position (man at the bottom of the foursome facing up, lady at the top facing down).  All join hands and ‘balance’ (four steps: pull-in, stomp, out, stomp).  Release hands and Petronella turn into the next position Acw., join hands, balance, release hands.  8 bars

A2:  All Petronella turn, join hands, balance and release hands…  repeat twice more.  8 bars

B1:  ‘2’s retire (to face each other) as ‘1’s lead down…  turn alone, and come on back… .  Giving ‘inside’ hands, turn ¾ around the ‘2’s into a progressed place.  8 bars

B2:  ‘Right and left thru'’ across the set, i.e. cross by the right hand to your partner, then, along the set, by the left hand to swap places with your neighbour - men finish with a courtesy-turn ¾ Acw..  Single couples left at an end will need, as a pair, to turn back, swap their designation…  and ‘sit out’ a ‘go’.  4 bars.

Repeat, back to the progressed place.  4 bars

La Russe Quadrille

Music:  64 bar reel.
32-bar:  32s: 15 ‘WttD’ CD 2, Greensleeves Country Band - 15 La Russe;  34s: Boden - 01 La Russe (FSCD02, 2005), Sharon Shannon - *Woodchoppers or *Bonnie Mulligan, Tiger Moth - Larousse, Patrick Street - Killanin’s Fancy set, Caladh Nua - *By Heck, Arcady - *The Sally Gardens/Miss McLeod’s/Foxhunter’s/… Spear set;  33s: Matt Molloy - London Lasses/Farewell to Ireland, The Tune Makers - The Bucks of Oranmore, Natalie MacMaster or Sláinte or Elderberries or Session Tunes or MacIsaacs (32s) - *Silver Spear;  30s: Alban Fuam - Hand Me Down…/Fermoy Lasses/Gravel Walks set.

Form:  4-couple square.

    * * *
A1:  All pass their partner by the left shoulder i.e. men pass outside ladies, to meet the next person of the opposite gender - who should be coming towards them, for four balances (‘jump and a kick’): (clasping that person’s outstretched hands with intermeshed fingers aids stability when kicking enthusiastically) feet-together jump, skew the hips to the left, hop on the left while kicking the right foot to the left, jump/bounce, skew the hips right, hop on the right while kicking the left to the right, repeat the kick to the left, jump/bounce, kick to the right… and swing.  To end the swing, the man rolls the lady off his right arm towards her home position, rather than just dumping her.

A2:  Face partner (who should be oncoming), (for stability, clasp partner’s hands - intermeshed fingers) balance (jump, kick r. f., jump then kick l. f.) twice…  and swing.

B1:  The leading couple (‘1’s) keep swinging, others drop-back to place.

B2:  ‘1’s promenade inside the set, successively greeting (nodding/bowing) ‘2’s, ‘3’s and ‘4’s, ending in place.

A3:  ‘1’s and ‘3’s cross, leading couple, ‘1’s, dipping, ‘3’s arching.  At the far side, ladies turn Acw. under their partner’s arm to change place and direction; cross back (‘3’s dipping), then ladies turn under-arm to change places with their partner again.

A4:  Repeat A3 i.e. the ‘dip and arch’.

B3:  All join hands, circle left all the way (16 steps).

B4:  Promenade (anticlockwise) back to place.  Linger holding left hands to half-turn the lady ready for her to advance for the ‘balance’ with the adjacent man.

Repeat for ‘2’s (but ‘2’s & ‘4’s cross first), ‘3’s, and then ‘4’s (‘2’s & ‘4’s cross first again).  Finally both ‘1’s & ‘3’s dance B1 followed by B2 at the same time, then both the ‘sides’ do B1 & B2 together.

Note:  To enliven A3 and A4, the ‘passive’ couples could, if they're very nifty, cross close on the heels of the ‘working’ couples.

Sir Roger de Coverley

Music:  (in 9/8) AABBCC Triple jig (or Slip jig).  36s: unspecified Flautist, Feast of Fiddles (34s), Blowzabella (32s) or The Seven Dials Band (31s) - Sir Roger de Coverley;  35s: Mark Arrington - *Foxhunter’s Slip Jig set;  32s: Rún - *Hardiman the Fiddler;  29s: Street Fiddlers - Nead Na Lachan (The Foxhunter’s Jig).

Form:  5-couple longways - can employ a running step.
Prep.: explain that due to ad-hoc figure timings, as sets get out-of-sync., ‘calling’ will be curtailed.

    * * *
First corner (top man, bottom lady) skip (or run) towards each other and turn by a right arm hold e.g. linked-elbow or short forearm or cupped-elbow - no thumbs!…  then they retreat.  The second corner (top woman and bottom man) advance and turn by a right arm hold.  The finishing couple can make a slow, wide cast to clear the way for the following couple, until returning through their own place.  Then first, followed by second, corner turn by:
the left arm,
two crossed hands,
do-si-do (pass back-to-back, Cw. round each other).

Top couple ‘Strip the Willow’ to the bottom, i.e. a right, cupped-elbow/short-arm swing with partner for one complete turn, then left cupped-elbow/short-arm swings down the opposite line (alternating with right arm swings with partner down the middle).  16 bars
Top couple gallop up the middle to the top, cast-out, dance to the bottom - followed by the rest - meet, arch and the rest pass through it.

T. A. G.

Roger Whynott

Music:  March (32-bar single reel) or jig.  35s: Gillian Boucher @ Old Triangle, Caladh Nua - *By Heck;  34s: Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy - *Whistler of Rosslea (initial rpt.: 42s), Sharon Shannon - *Miss Thomson’s/The Derry Reel set, Knot Fibb’n - Merry Blacksmith/Father Kelly’s/… , Patrick Street - Killanin’s Fancy/… set, Govannen - *Billy in the Low Ground/Blackberry Blossom;  33s: Dominique Dupuis - *Jack Daniels’, Solas - *Sproggies set, 2nd South Carolina String Band - *Cripple Creek/Old Joe Clark/… ;  32s: Kevin Griffin - Green Mountain, Jenna Reid, Aly Bain and Friends - *Fiddle Blast;  31s: Mick Foster - Brian O'Kane’s March, Ceilidh Minogue - King’s Reel/… Laoish/Janine’s … /… set.

16-bar:  18s: Babineau & Chartrand - Windsor Mills.

Form:  4-couple longways.

Difficulty: 2

    * * *
A1:  The top couple lead down the centre; come back and cast out (the second couple don’t ‘assist’).

A2:  As the top couple cast, all the men raise their left arm and follow the top man into a left-hand star while all the ladies follow the top lady into a right-hand star.  As each couple meet each other at the bottom, they cross to the other star - the lady crosses in front of her partner to join the men’s (left-hand) star…  while men join the right-hand star.

B1:  As partners meet at the bottom again, they swap stars back into ladies doing the right-hand star while men do the left-hand star.

B2:  As the tops meet yet again at the bottom, they lead everyone up to the top and cast…  others follow.  The tops make an arch at the bottom and the others go through.  Couples can swing - if there’s time.

It helps if the lines/stars are close together to allow easier swapping between them…  and dancers stay in their stars as long as possible before swapping-over.

Thady you Gander (Irish Trot)

Music:  32-bar jig.  Candleford Ceilidh Band - T. Y. G..

Form:  4-couple longways, (skipping-step or step-hop).

    * * *
Top couple join hands and dance to bottom.  (4)

Couple cross over (lady under man’s arm), each return on outside.  (4)

Top lady leads the men around her partner and down the back of the ladies’ line.  (8)

Top man leads the ladies around his partner and down the back of the men’s line.  (8)

Top couple turn once-and-a-bit by the right elbow then both short-arm or cupped-elbow swing down the set to ‘Strip the Willow’.  (8)

Restart when the top couple reach the bottom (on their own side).

Thread the Needle

Music:  32-bar jig.  John McCusker - [All the] Blue Bonnets [Are Over the Border] (very slow - speeding to 31s per 32 bars) or 33s: Crowdie House - *Blue Bonnets, Mark Arrington or Michael O’Donoghue (32s) - Haymaker’s Jig;  32s: Jimmy Blair and his Scottish Dance Band - Lord Rosslyn’s Fancy, Dave Swarbrick - *Sheagh of Rye/Friar’s Breeches, The Goddard Sisters - *Hummingbird, Against the Grain;  30s: Open House - Devil’s Jig/The Trip to Bantry/… set, Natalie Macmaster - Jig Party;  29s: Blazin’ Fiddles - Braehead Cottage;  28s: Altan - The Blue Idol;  27s: Rapalje - *John Joe Gammon’s/Tripping Upstairs/… .

Form:  3 (or four)-couple longways.

    * * *
1-8:  Thread the Needle:  Join hands along the lines.  Bottom couple also hold their partner’s hand - to form a horseshoe-shaped set.

The top two men (1st and 2nd men) raise their joined hands to make an arch; top lady leads everyone through the arch - curving left down the back of the men’s line, round the set and back to place.  Both the top two men need to unwind their arch by turning under it together.

9-16:  Repeat 1-8 with the top two ladies making the arch and the men curving right…  when everyone has passed through, both the top two ladies unwind under their arch together.

17-24:  All circle left (men just continue their movement).  All circle right.

25-32:  First couple, slip down the middle (four steps, two-handed) and back, then, followed by the others, cast to the bottom of the set, and make an arch for the others to lead up the set to their advanced places.

When confident, for bars 1-8, men can walk round clockwise once - so ladies encounter and duck through the men’s arch twice (so, two lines are going through the arch simultaneously).  The last two men (1st and 2nd) need to ‘unwind’ their arch twice.

Three Around Three

Music:  polka.  35s: Brian Roe - Sean Ryan’s;  34s: Mary Duff (dulcimer) - Jenny Lind/Three Around Three, Craig Duncan - Grandfather/Clarinet Polka set;  32s: Art Stamper - Barndance Polka; 31s: Eliza Carthy & KoC - Trip to Fowey/Amery/Queen;  30s: John Carty - Lakes of Sligo;  29s: Reelroad - *Sean Ryan’s Polka, Slainte - Britches Full of Stitches/Munster/Bill Sullivan’s;  28s: Jackie Daly & Creagh - Bill Sullivan’s/Britches of Stitches.

Form:  three longways couples.

    * * *
Top lady pulls the line of ladies (skipping) upwards and around the back of the men’s line.  (8)

Top man pulls his line around the ladies’ line.  (8)

Top couple cast to middle place, & swing.  (8)

Old tops right-hand star with couple above them (old 2nd).  (No left-hand star back.)  (4)

Old tops dive under an arch made by the 3rd couple.  (4)

The new top lady needs to be ready to re-start.

Virginia Reel

This is an adapted version (for Americans) of the English dance, Sir Roger de Coverley.


40-bar (5 x 16 beats) reel:  43s: Kenny Thomson - High Society;  42s: Colin Dewar - Virginia Reel Medley.

32-bar:  34s: The Rankin Family - *Mairi’s Wedding (vocal content) (Michael’s from 2m09, but “in your own time”);  32s: Melodian Band - V. R. Medley (>9mins long), Geslison & Groberg or Black Rose - Virginia Reel (lively, 2 second intro., then 8 x 31s).

64-bar:  63s: WttD II - 12 Virginia Reel.

Form:  Longways 4 or 5 couples.

    * * *
A1: 1-4  2nd corner couple only (top lady and bottom man) advance 3 steps and all ‘clap-clap’, repeated by 1st corner couple, i.e. 2nd in, ‘clap-clap’, 1st in, ‘clap-clap’.

A1: 5-8  2nd corner couple take 3 steps to reverse out, all ‘clap-clap’, repeated by 1st corner i.e. 2nd out, ‘clap-clap’, 1st out, ‘clap-clap’.

Alternative for A1:
1-4 (involving all couples i.e. no ‘passive’ couples) all advance 3 steps, all ‘clap-clap’ and retire 3 steps, ‘clap-clap’.
5-8 Repeat.

A2: 9-12  All advance, single turn partner with hooked right-elbow.  If the music is Black Rose, all can kick-up heels!

A2: 13-16  All hook left-elbow to turn back.

B1: 17-20  All turn partner Cw. with both hands.  (4 bars)

B1: 21-24  All do-si-do (passing by the right shoulder).  (4 bars)

B2: 25-32  Head couple join hands and chassé (8 side-slips) down set… and back.

B3: 33-40  Head couple cast-off to the bottom where they make an arch, others follow, through the arch and return up the set (having progressed a place).

Alternatives for A1-B2:

    * * *
A1:  Head lady and foot man hook by right-elbow and turn while remainder 1, 2, 3, ‘clap-clap’ (8 steps) …  followed by the 1st corner turning…  and the remainder 1, 2, 3, ‘clap-clap’.

A2:  Head lady and foot man left-elbow turn…  then 1st corner.

B1:  Head lady and foot man do-si-do passing right shoulders…  then 1st corner.

B2:  Head lady and foot man do-si-do passing left shoulders…  then 1st corner.

Alternative for a 64-bar dance:

From bar 29 (B2) - i.e. a 36-bar addition...  so, okay for 5 couples:
Head couple join hands and chassé (8 side-slips) down the set, the couple then Strip the Willow up the set, cast, & arch at the bottom for the rest of the set to duck under and return to a progressed place.

Waves of Tory

Music:  polka/jig.  48-bar for 5 couples or 64-bar for 7 couples.  (Often AAB AAB [48 bars] - for 5 couples; AAB AABBB [64 bars] - for 7 couples).

48-bar jig (5 couples):  WttD 1 CD1, 11 WoT, 48s: Steeleye Span - Mooncoin, 46s: Jon Boden et al. - *Bridge of Athlone…;  44s: Blowzabella - *Horizonto, Eliza Carthy - Zycanthos Jig/Tommy’s…;  42s: Threepenny Bit - Coffee Zycanthos.

32-bar jig (twice through - for 7 couples): 32s: Michael O’Donoghue - Haymaker’s Jig;  31s: Olive Hurley - Shandon Bells;  Sean McGuire - Larry O’Gaff set (3 x 64).

Form:  Longways set of 5 or 7 couples (need an odd number for the ‘waves’).

Step: Jig or walking step.

    * * *
A1: 1-4  Hold hands in lines, four steps forward and four steps back.

5-8  Couples 1 & 2 and couple 3 & 4 r. h. star, 5 r. h. turn.

A2: 9-12  Lines forward and back.

13-16  Couples 1 & 2 and couples 3 & 4 l. h. star, couple 5 l. h. turn.

B1: 17-24  Top couple two-handed slip-step gallop eight steps down and eight steps back.

B2: 25-32  At the top, they cast out, the remainder follow.  At the bottom of the set, the top couple make an arch for the rest to pass under.

C1 & C2: 33-48 (B music phrase is repeated twice more - or, for 7 couples, phrases A1-B2, could just be repeated en bloc for bars 33-64)
There’s now a new top couple.  Everybody remember their new position, face down - except the original top couple - and hold hands.  The original ‘tops’ start a ‘dip and dive’ i.e. alternately ‘duck under’ and ‘arch over’ approaching couples.  Each other couple either push apart to ‘arch’ or pull together to ‘dive’, moving forwards until they join in (by following the couple in front).  When they reach the ends, couples can either turn about individually…  or (as an embellishment), since their inside arms are already raised (arched), the lady can swap places with the man using a California Twirl (to stay on his right).  They then continue the wave by ‘diving’ under the arch made by the oncoming couple - back to their places.

Alternative Waves of Tory

Music:  5 x 48-bar jig.  'WttD’ CD 1, 11 WoT.

Form:  Longways set of 5 or 7 couples.

    * * *
A1:  Men join hands, ladies join hands.  Lines of men & ladies advance 4 steps toward each other & retire.  (4)

Lines advance & pass through by the right shoulder (8 steps).  (4)

A2:  Advance & retire.  (4)

Advance & pass left shoulder.  (4)

B1:  Swing partner.  (8)

B2:  Top couple cast off: men following the man, ladies follow the lady.  The top couple form a two-handed arch at the bottom of the set and the others, following, pass through and up to the top of the set.  (8)

The original top couple finishes as the bottom couple.

B3:  Holding inside hands, new top man turns his lady under his arm, faces down the set and they ‘duck and dive’ with the set: they pull themselves close to pass under the arch made by the 2nd couple, push apart to go over 3rd, under 4th, etc..  They turn again at the bottom of the set (with a California twirl) to continue the ‘waves’ again - dipping under, then over, until they reach the top of the set again.  They then wait for the others to complete i.e. back to where they started the ‘waves’. (16)

Repeat as required until everyone has been the top couple.

Weaver’s Galopede

Music:  32-bar jig.  32s: Jimmy Blair and his Scottish Dance Band - Lord Rosslyn’s Fancy, Trinculo - *Drummond Castle/Shorty’s Revenge;  31s: Caitlin Warbelow & Friends - *Father Kelly’s/Reconciliation/… /… set, The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra - *Jake's Jig/Going to the Well for Water/… set;  30s: Danú - Brown-Eyed Bridget, Blazin’ Fiddles - *Thursday Night in the Caley;  29s: Altan - The Wedding Jig.

Form:  5-couple longways.

    * * *
A1:  Hold hands in lines.  The bottom couple join hands to make a horseshoe-shaped set.  The top two men make an arch and the women ‘Thread the Needle’.

A2:  Still holding hands, the top two women make an arch and men ‘Thread the Needle’.

B1:  The top couple gallop down… as they pass, the rest cross by the right hand; top couple gallop back up, the rest cross back with left hand.

B2:  Top couple gallop down again and the rest cross by the right hand; all swing, ending-up back on their own side.

The Willow Tree

Author:  Hugh Rippon

Music:  48-bar jig four or eight times through.  55s:  Damien O’Kane & David Kosky - Morgan Rattler;  50s:  ITMA Staff - Humours of Ennistymon/Cliffs of Moher/Ocean;  47s:  Spiers & Jon Boden - Oswestry Wake/Morgan Rattler;  44s:  Blowzabella - *Horizonto, Eliza Carthy - *Zycanthos Jig/Tommy's …;  42s:  Threepenny Bit - Coffee Zycanthos.

48-bar reel:  54s: Keith Smith - Clutha, Noel Hill - Duke of Leinster;  50s: Mark Arrington - Sweets of May, Blazin’ Fiddles - *Fiddle Cushion;

Form:  8-couple longways set.  Difficulty: 2

    * * *
A1 (1-8):  Top couple take two hands and slip to the bottom at a gallop; 1st man takes bottom woman with two hands and slips back to the top, leaving 1st woman behind.

A2 (9-16):  1st woman and bottom man slip up the set at a gallop; bottom man returns with his own woman.

B1 and B2 (17-32):  End couples right cupped-elbow turn once and ‘Strip the Willow’ i.e. left cupped-elbow down the opposite line, alternating with right with partner, to the middle (i.e. past 3 couples), then form an arch of four in the middle of the set (the 4th and 5th couples may need to make space between them).

C1 and C2 (33-48):  Sides cast (top six people cast down, bottom six cast up), in through the side arches - out through the end-arches, back to place; swing if there’s time.

The Wizard’s Walk

By Ruth Ungar

Music:  32-bar.  Own tune: Wizard's Walk by Jay Ungar.  Folk Godalkanje - W. W. after 32s & 1m05 (unstructured after 1m38), Snowflake? (also Craig Duncan);  Celtic Spring - W. W.. {after 1m10 & 1m41}.

Form:  duple, '1's improper contra or Sicilian circle - i.e. a large circle comprising alternate couples facing each other.  The ‘1’s are those facing Cw., ‘2’s are facing Acw..

View at:

    * * *
A1:  In circles of four, starting on l. f. circle left half-way (4 steps/beats); balance (step forward on the left, small ‘stomp’ on the right while pulling together into the ring - raising hands to chest height), two beats out. (4 beats).

A1:  Repeat the circle left and balance, to get back to place.

A2:  In circles of four - starting with neighbour - grand chain (r. hand first - men go Cw.) 4 places, i.e. chain right round (4 'hands'), then smoothly gypsy Cw. (passing right shoulders) 1½ times round your neighbour.

B1:  In circles of four, balance (lean back, pull inwards) and swing partner (in a ballroom hold) - the ‘2’s will probably be closer to the centre of the circle.  Finish facing a new couple (so progressing) with whom you'll be dancing for the next circuit i.e. ‘1’s face Cw. and ‘2’s face Acw.  If no new couple, swap designation, turn back and sit-out a turn.

B2:  Wizard’s Walk (a bit like a longways ‘reel of three’ - but where, throughout the ‘Walk’, participants don’t generally change the direction in which they’re facing): everyone walks forward, ‘1’s now separate (twirling outwards - if there’s enough space) - and go down outside the ‘2’s (that they’ve just met – and who’ll be moving forward, in and up towards them), meet (with an inward twirl) and continue down to split the next ‘2’s (who’ll be moving out and up) - ‘1’s now separate (with a twirl again - if desired) and back up outside those ‘2’s (who’ll also be backing), meet and back up through the middle of the ‘2’s (whom they met at the beginning of the ‘Walk’) with whom they now form a new, four-person circle to restart the dance.

Wring out the Dishrag

Music:  32-bar polka.  38s: Lissa Schneckenburger - Jamie Allen;  35s: Brian Roe - Sean Ryan’s Polka;  34s: Craig Duncan - Grandfather/Clarinet Polka.

Formation:  Sicilian circle.  Ideally, for 10 couples or more.

Difficulty: 3

    * * *
A1:  In fours, circle left eight steps…, then circle right.  8 bars

A2:  Still holding hands, ‘1’s (couples facing clockwise) make an arch and ‘2’s pass under it, turn away from each other, raise (and twist) their still joined hands over their own heads to end (‘1’s lower their arch in front of themselves) with all facing-in - making a ‘clover leaf’.  Then the ‘2’s, facing clockwise, turn towards each other and make an arch, ‘1’s pass under it and turn away from their partner to unwind, i.e. ‘wring out the dishrag’.  8 bars

B1:  Right hand star, left hand star.  8

B2:  Take four steps forward, four steps back and pass on (to the left - if a normal Sicilian Circle) or polka-off to find a new couple (‘scatter’ version).  8

Zig Zag

Music:  32-bar jig or reel.

Jig:  34s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - Old Apples in Winter, Déanta - The Lansdowne Lass set;  33s: Patrick Street - *The Shores of Lough Gowna/Contentment is… set;  32s: Arty McGlynn - The Humors of Kilclogher;  31s: The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra - *Jake's Jig/Going to the Well for Water/… set, Candleford Ceilidh Band - Devon Jig set, Bothy Band - Strayaway Child;  30s: Monster Ceilidh Band - *AJ’s Jig/MacArthur Road;  28s: Banter - *Jump at the Sun.

Reel:  42s (slow enough for a ‘swagger’ step): Johnny Cash - Casey Jones, The Cajun All-Stars - Cousin Lilly;  41s: Bourbon Street Stompers - Oh Susanna, John Carty - The Warbling Robin, Liz Carroll & John Doyle - Lost in the Loop;  37s: The Irish Experience - Julia Delaney/Dinny O’Brien’s/… ;  36s: The Balfa Brothers - Indian On A Stomp, Liz Carroll & John Doyle - Ricky’s White Face, Gillian Boucher @ ‘The Old Triangle’;  35s: Caladh Nua - *By Heck, The Elderberries - *Torn Jacket/Boy in the Boat/Toss … set;  34s: Graeme MacKay - The De’il Amang The Tailors set (suitable for a sprightly ‘walking’ step), Tom Doherty - The Three Sisters Reel, Ally the Fiddle - Catharsis, La Famille Arsenault - *La Reel Mon Oncle Albert/Whiskey Before Breakfast, Howie MacDonald & Ashley MacIsaac - Old Time Wedding Reel Medley;  33s: Tidal Wave - **Reel a Bruce/Terrebonne/du Nord set, Liz Carroll & John, Doyle - The Chandelier, *Fremont Center (32s), Caitlin Warbelow & Friends - *Father Kelly’s/Reconciliation/… /… set, Adam Agee & Jon Sousa - John Brennan’s/… /… set (starts with a 40s rpt.), Brittany Haas & Friends - Bill Malley’s/*The E-B-E Reel;  32s: The Four Star Trio - Dinny O’Brien’s/The First House in Connacht, Séamus Egan - Mason’s Apron (a double reel - for which a ‘walking’ step is suitable), Banjo & Fiddles - *Irish Set, Howie MacDonald & MacIsaac - *Mason’s Apron Medley;  31s: Caitlin Warbelow & Friends - March/*Sporting Paddy/Wing Commander Donald MacKenzie’s/Road to Errogie set.

Form:  Sicilian Circle - alternate couples facing each other.  For ten couples or more.

    * * *
A1:  Men cross the set by pulling ‘l. h. through’ with the opposite man  (2 bars, 4 beats); men continue in the same direction, pulling ‘r. h. through’ with the man approaching from the adjacent set.  All the men have now changed sets.  (4 bars in total i.e. 8 beats, c. 4s.)

All l. h. star in new sets.  (4 bars)

A2:  Ladies follow their men - but they use their r. h. to cross with the opposite lady, followed by l. h. pull-through to the next set.  (4 bars)

All r. h. star in new sets.  (4 bars)

B1:  Ladies chain across.  (4 bars)

…and back again.  (4 bars)

B2:  Allemande left your ‘opposite’ (who’s also your ‘neighbour’).  Dance a two-couple R-L Grand Chain (starting with your partner, pass four hands).  When back to place, swing your partner.  (8 bars)

Proponents of Contra-dance cite its advantages as:

Also, dances are walked - so there’s no need to ‘rant’, ‘skip’, ‘step-hop’ etc..

Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that Contra isn’t amenable to displays of frivolous exuberance eg. transitions between swinging and circling, starring etc. can all be embellished by creative spinning or twirling (e.g. man raises l. arm and the lady, facing him, twirls Acw. under it…  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, 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 more demanding to remember.

Accompaniment is usually contemporary reels.

Aqueous (Contra)

by Don Flaherty

Form:  Becket i.e. a longways line of couples (lady on the man’s right) facing another, similar line.  Suspended, wood-board flooring enhances stomping. 

Watch, from 4m40, at:

    * * *
A1:  Lines forward, (stomp) & back (stomp).
In minor sets (two couples), Chain ladies across the set.

A2:  R. h. balance (lean/sway towards) partner, tap/stomp, back, tap/stomp.
Right - Left:  cross by r. h. with partner, l. h. along the line (ladies go left, men right).
Face and r. h. balance partner (lean, tap, back tap).
Right across - Left along the line.

B1:  Balance (meet, clapping palms-to-palms) the next person (who’ll be your new ‘opposite’), hold hand[s] & lean back, tap.  (But, if reached an end, sit-out; if already sitting-out, the man crosses to the opposite line and the couple re-join.)
Swing that person.  Finishing in a longways line - with lady on man's right.

B2:  Minor sets circle left.  (Ladies half-circle.)
Swing partner.

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 neighbour.  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 ‘sit 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.
Watch at:  Music:  Hey Little Girl, Sweet Nell

    * * *
A1:  In fours, circle left.  Men go back to place where they swing their ‘opposite’ (whom only ½-circled).

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 by the left hand circle, Ccw..  Halfway round (so, crossed-over), men drop back, the ladies, still holding l. hands, continue circling to hold their ‘opposite’s right hand and make a wavy line (but facing in alternate directions) of four across.

B1:  ‘Balance’ (lean/sway right and double dip/bop), then balance to the left - then ladies balance to each other, release their l. h., couple Allemande right (couples turn 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 is preparing to rejoin).  (4 bars)

"Balance to your opposite", then balance left.  Men ¾ Allemande left (Ccw.) to return for "right hand to (original) partner".  (4 bars)

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

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

Chuck the Budgie

Author:  Rick Mohr

Form:  Duple minor, ‘1’s improper (change places with partner).

Preparation:  Take hands four from the top.

Watch at:
Music:  Flying Tent

    * * *
A1:  The two men meet across the set and Allemande left a half-turn.
They go back to "Swing your neighbour" (whom they’ve just met).

A2:  (Still with neighbour) 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’.
The two ladies Allemande right 1¼ turns to meet their neighbour (man) with a raised l. hand - to form a wavy line (so, without releasing r. hand).

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

Couples that have reached an end, swap their designation (change places with their partner and turn-back) and sit-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 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..
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:  Neighbours 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 to neighbour.  (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 neighbour (two-handed).  (4)

On reaching an end, swap designation, turn-back - as a couple - and ‘sit-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 turn half-Cw.. (2)  Four steps back. (2) ‘Outsides’ curl inward - dragging the line into a circle of four.  (The ‘outside’ man returns to his lady’s left.) (2)

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

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

B2:  Circle of four Cw. (man completes one, full circuit).
Swing partner.

Simplicity Swing

Author:  Becky Hill

Form:  Duple, ‘1’s improper.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.

Watch at:

    * * *
A1:  Balance (meet two-handed and lean back) neighbour.  (1 bar)
Swing neighbour (& she twirls?).  (7 bars)

A2:  Circle left (ladies only half-circle to their man’s home position).  (3)
Swing partner.  (5)

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

B2:  Hold left hands across with neighbours to Star once.  (4)
Turn around to do-si-do your new neighbours.  (4)

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


Form:  Lines, duple.

Preparation:  Take hands in fours from the top.  2’s improper.  (Symmetrical.  Couples effectively progress rear-ward - back along the major set.  If, instead, ‘1’s are improper, couples progress forward - along the major set.)

Watch at:
Music:  Benton's Hallucinations

    * * *
A1:  Lines (‘1’ man adjacent to ‘2’ lady) go forward three, tap and back.  (4 bars)

Ladies Allemande right (full-turn) the opposite lady to cross-over and return to partner.  (4)

A2:  Men Allemande left a half-turn with the opposite man.  (4)

Swing partner.  (4)

B1:  In fours, holding hands, man on left, circle left ¾.  (4)

Couples, still holding inside hands, jink to the left past the opposite couple, pass thru (men in the middle) the advancing couple, Allemande right a half-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 ‘sit out’ until the next ‘jink’), go back to the previous couple (your new neighbours).  (8)

Swing with that couple.  (4)

Chattahoochee Bop

Form:  A longways line.

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 in the middle.

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 - in front of the ‘opposite’.  (2)

Back in wavy lines, balance to the right, then balance left.  (2)

Roll (Ccw.) back - crossing in front of ‘opposite’.  (2)

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

B1:  Lines forward, meet 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 (with a 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 ‘sit-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’).

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

Watch at:
Music: 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 (4), ladies cross/pull-thru by the right (1), Allemande left partner ¾ into crossways waves - with ladies in the middle…  (3)

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

B2:  With neighbour, pass thru to form a Wave (ladies in the middle) (2), balance right, left (2), pull forward to the next neighbours (if at an end, as a couple, turn-back and sit out a go), Allemande left a full-turn to form crossways waves with men in the middle…  (4)


Heartbeat Contra

Author:  Don Flaherty

Form:  ‘1’s Improper

Music:  a Highlanders Farewell jam

Watch at:

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

A2: Ring Balance (2),  …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 circle) (2),
California Twirl partner (to face new, oncoming neighbours) (2).

Twirling Examples
The couple approach each other with:

Suggested Contra Tracks
36s: We Banjo 3 - Good Time, Old Time;
35s: Perpetual e-Motion - Vladi on the Trans-Siberian;
34s: George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Merriweather/Sally Ann Johnson set, Great Bear Trio - *Benton’s Hallucinations, 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, Great Bear Trio - Contra Dance, 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 Boy’s/Beth Cohen’s set, Red-Haired Boy/Cluck Old Hen/…, George Penk, Clyde Curley & Susan Songer - Mad River/…/Hey Little Girl set, Kaiser Family - Hey Little Girl/Hangman’s Reel, Tom Adler & Co. (incl. Rob Pine) - Sweet Nell, Great Bear Trio - Lake City/The Monarch (30s), Hotpoint Stringband - 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, Aubrey Haynie - *Foolin’ Around, Vitamin String Quartet or Taylor Davis - *Thriller, Alexandr Misko or Organic Strings - Billie Jean;
31s: Perpetual e-Motion - *Eleanor Rigby;
30s: Blazin’ Fiddles - Pat The Budgie.

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 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

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. 38 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.  (3 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.  2 bars

“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.  3 bars

Into the middle (“one-two"-‘outsides’ clap free hands) and back.  3 bars

Across the set, everybody forward, ‘Right and Left thru'’, but 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, 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, 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;
26s:  Corrina Rose Logston - Soppin’ the Gravy, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs - Lonesome Road Blues, Hobart Smith - John Brown’s Dream.

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)

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 (or just having completed 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 infront of her.  He places his left hand behind his back so that his partner can hold it with her right.  So they’re 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 infront of him.  Repeat ad infinitum.