Circle, Square and Crossways Dances

Last updated:  July, 2022

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 the square dance), lady on man’s right - all facing the centre.

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

A2:   Allemande left with neighbour, do-si-do partner once-and-a-half…  forward to the next person - holding out right hand.  5 + 10 + 1 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.) around the circle.

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

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, (reel) Alan McCartney & Paul Bradley - The Silver Spear/Gilbert Clancy’s/Road to Ballymac 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.

Form:  Four couples in a square.

A1:   Head couples (‘1’s and ‘3’s) go forward & 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 your corner;  give right hand to your partner and start a R-L Grand Chain (men go Acw. round the circle, ladies go Cw., by pulling past alternate people using alternate hands).

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

Repeat – but with sides leading.

The New Mrs Arrowsmith

Author:  Gordon Potts

Music:  Hornpipe (‘Step-hop’ to slower hornpipes) or Polka.  49s: Clannad - Fairies' Hornpipe/Off to California; 45s: Patrick Street - Down by the Old Fairy Fort/The Whistler… ;  35s: Corrina Rose Logston - Honeycat Hornpipe;  16 bars in 21s: Nightingale - *Newmarket Polka/Trip to Dingle;  34s: Craig Duncan - Grandfather/Clarinet Polka set;  33s: Ghurt-Yo-ghurt - Sean Ryan’s/Irish Polka set.

Form:  Four couples in a square.

A1:   Head couples take a 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 back to place.

B1:   The four ladies ‘right hand star’.  Men cast out (Swirl Acw.), circulate round the outside to the next man’s place.  When, after completing ¾ circle - c. five steps - the ladies encounter their partner, they ‘peel-off’ to meet him by the left hand and he courtesy turns (or Cw. twirls) her Acw. around him (c. three steps).  (4 bars)
Repeat the last paragraph.

B2:   Repeat the ‘star’ & courtesy turn, then either:
repeat it one last time (by which time, the couple should have returned to place),
or, to ‘progress’, ladies continue to star - round to the next man.

Reel of Ballymore

Leslie Haworth

Music:  32-bar jig.  Welcome to the Dance, ‘WttD’, CD 2, 01 The Ranchers - Reel of Barrymore (John of Paris, Lanigan’s Ball);  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.

Form:  Big circle mixer.

Difficulty: 2

A1:   All take four steps into the middle… 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 lady 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 left diagonal is your left-person (and who was your previous partner), the person on the other side is your right-person.
You’re now going to Allemande these three people.  Give right hand to pass your new partner, turn the right-person halfway with the left hand.  Pass partner by the right hand, turn the left-person halfway by the left hand to return to partner again.

B2:   Long swing with partner alternatively ‘Balance & Kick’ twice and then swing.

Belfast Duck

Music:  16-bar hornpipe;  23s:  WttD, CD 1, 20 Woodley Yeomen - Belfast Duck (Puddleglum’s Miser, Walking Up Town);  24s:  Banter-Bellowhead - Kafoozalum;

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

Form:  a large circle of couples - men form an inner circle facing out…  or longways: duple, proper.  Step-hop (for vigorous) or slow walk (gentle).

Prep.:  From the top, hold hands in fours.  There’s a tendency for the whole set to move down the room.

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

B:    Taking inside hands, lead down the room (or clockwise, Cw.) with two, slow walking steps (easiest to start on the outside foot - "outside-inside"),
take both hands and chassé ("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 pass under it - so progressing.  On reaching an end, swap designation and ‘wait-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

Watch at:

Music:  32-bar march.  30s: ‘Welcome to the Dance’ (‘WttD’) CD 2, 20 Greensleeves County Dance Band - Blaydon Races/Tramp, Tramp, Tramp/Home Boys Home (.wma), Woodley Yeomen - 13 B. R. (mp3);  36s: Nova - *…/Little Sky; Cheviot Ranters - Blaydon Races/Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny/Whenever Ye Can Yer Sure Tae Find a Geordie;  33s: 2nd South Carolina String Band - *Cripple Creek/Old Joe Clark/… .

Form:  circle or concentric circles.

A1:   Join hands, go into the middle - four steps - and back,  4 bars
repeat.  4 bars

A2:   Double-handed or ballroom hold: double chassé in (side, close; side, close), double chassé out,  4 bars
two-turn, crossed-hands swing.  4 bars

B1:   Promenade (skater’s handhold - hands in front) Acw. eight steps.  During the last few steps, men move-on to the lady in front.  8 bars

B2:   ‘Balance & Kicktwice,  2 + 2 bars
Cross-hand swing,  4 bars
finish with the new lady on the right…  ready to restart.

Borrowdale Exchange

Watch at:

Music:  32-bar reel.  ;  36s: Sláinte - Scully’s Reel, Deanta - Scarta Glen Road set;  34s: Liz Carroll - Ronan Boys, Boden et al - 13 B. E. (mp3 is lo-res);  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:   All circle left eight steps…  and back.

A2:   All advance into the middle four steps…  and back,
do-si-do partner.

B1:   Hold right-hands across, with person opposite and nobody elseCircle left eight steps…  and back.  Finish by raising hands into an arch.
Undo the star:  keep holding hands - the lady whose hand is lowest goes under the arches (of the other two couples) first, then the next lady.

B2:   Promenade (or polka) around the room for four bars…  then form new, 3-couple sets.  ‘Lost & Found’ couples to the centre and raise an arm.

The Carousel

Author:   Bill Wolding

Music:  reel.  36s: Country Fiddle Band - Miller’s Reel;  35s: Dominique Dupuis - *Reels des Naufragés, The Elderberries - Torn Jacket/Boy …/Toss …;  34s: Wild Asparagus - The Big Reel/Rare, Fahey’s/Woman …/Sligo …;  32s: Natalie MacMaster - Three Reels, The Lost and Nameless Orchestra - Dizzy Molly/Julia Delaney/… McNeil, Hotpoint Stringband - Irish Reel/… Laxdale;  31s: Mean Lids - Waterbound;  30s: The Green Lads - *Road to Errogie.

Form:  Sicilian Circle (couple facing couple).

A1:   Do-si-do person opposite,
do-si-do partner.

A2:   Holding hands in circles of four, Balance & Kick…  twice,
circle left eight steps.

B1:   Balance & Kick… twice,
circle right.

B2:   With arm around one’s partner’s waist (or linked-elbows), Balance & Kick once,
men link left elbows to form a line and swing the line Ccw. ½-around,
men release elbows, couples individually continue rotating a further ½-turn to face the next couple.

or B2: Circle left eight steps, ‘crash thru’ (going to the left of one’s ‘opposite’) on to the next couple.

Chain Double Quadrille

Music:  48-bar jig.  50s: ITMA Staff - Humours of Ennistymon/…Moher/… Ocean;  48s: Steeleye Span - The Mooncoin Jig;  47s: Erutan - Banish Misfortune;  45s: Kevin Burke - *The Humours of Ennistymon/Old as the Hills, Junor Davy and Friends - Strike the Gay Harp/The Hag’s Purse, The Elderberries - Banish Misfortune/Swallowtail/…;  44s: Eliza Carthy - Zycanthos Jig/Tommy’s Foot/… 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’ in the ‘Ladies’ Chain' differs (¼ or ¾) between couples - affecting timing.

The middle four people r. h. star, then return to left arm turn their partners 1½ 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 all finish back in their original place.  8 beats + 8 beats

Balance & Kick to partner, repeat…  and swing.  8 beats + 8 beats

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

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

Holding hands down the line, forward and back.  8 beats
Forward and cross through (couples part and each pass thru’ to the left of the facing person) to the next set.  8 beats

La Champenoise/Chapelloise

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

Watch at:

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

Form:  A circle comprising couples - men on the inside - facing Acw., so that each couple is a ‘spoke’ in a wheel.  For more than six couples.

A:    Promenade (‘Varsouvienne’-style - where the man places his right arm over his partner’s shoulders), forward (start on r.f., half-second paces), two, three, four, half-turn Cw. to back-step, two, three, close/touch.  (4 bars)

{"Hommes à gauche/interieur.  Dans le sens antihoraire: marche, marche, marche, tourn, recule, recule, recule, touch/pause."}

Variation: the man faces Cw. round the circle - holding the lady’s extended l. hand with his right hand, and extending his left arm to hold her right hand, he then walks backwards (starting on l.f.) for three steps.  They then both half-turn Acw. - so they’ll need to extend their r. arms instead - and he walks forward.

Promenade three steps forward (start on l.f.), half-turn Acw., three back - returning back to place - close.  (4 bars)

{"Dans le sens horaire: marche, marche… etc.."}

Variation continues:  the man’s first few steps are backwards, the lady under-arm twirls her last few steps back to place.

B:    Everyone faces Acw. around the circle - holding adjacent hands only.  Couples pull together with either a little leap & ‘tap’ or a Pas de Basque, then spring apart - again with a P. de B..  The man then feeds his partner across (she rotates Acw.) in front of him to his left-hand side, as he slides right (across to the outside) - so they swap places.  (4)

Couples pull together, spring apart…  then make an arch with their ‘inside’ arms for the lady to duck Cw. under, offering her free, left hand to the following man.  He collects it with his left hand as he slides back to the ‘inside’ position and she completes her Cw. rotation allowing him to place his r. arm over her shoulders.  (4)

{Les couples s’approchent, s’écartent, s’échange de place.  "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."}

Circassian Circle

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

Music:  32-bar jig.  30s: Pa’s Fiddle Band - The Irish Washerwoman, Evergreen - Irish Washerwoman/Swallowtail Jig/The Blackthorn Stick, (Cheviot Ranters - The Three Sea Captains/Lannigan’s Ball/Ellingham Hall).

Form:  Circassian Circle.  Couples, lady on the right, face the centre.

A1:   Forward four steps & back, repeat.

A2:   Ladies three steps in, clap, and back; men three steps in and kick.  Return to the next lady round (Acw.).

B1:   Swing.

B2:   Promenade (Varsouviennes-style - man’s r. arm over lady’s shoulder - ‘Gay Gordons’-style) this lady Acw..  Finally, twirl the lady ¾ Cw. to face in.

Circle/Oslo Waltz (mixer)

Watch at:

Music:  WttD, CD 2, 13, Greensleeves County Dance Band - I Belong to Glasgow/ … /Two Lovely Black Eyes/ … ;  180 bpm: Foster & Allen - Oslo Waltz;  135 bpm: Nova - Golden Gate Waltz;  120 bpm: London Barndance Co. - Donna’s Waltz;  117 bpm: Bryan Sutton - Margaret’s Waltz.

Form:  Circassian circle.  Take hands round the circle.

A:    Balance in, balance out; the man, stepping back slightly, feeds neighbour across into partner’s place to reform the circle.
Repeat three, further times.

B:    Hold both hands with the fourth person (partner).  Sway in, sway out, sway in and turn away from partner (man Acw., lady Cw.) to finish facing out.  Take hands and repeat outwards - sway out, sway in, sway out and turn.
Take ballroom hold: two chassé steps in and two out.  Waltz around the circle, then reform the circle to restart.

Cornish Six Hand Reel

Watch at:

Music:  32/64-bar reel.

Form:  Three couples in a line across the room, all facing up.

A1:   Hold hands in lines of six and walk eight steps up,
two pairs of Balance & Kicks (jump, right foot to the left etc.),

A2:   Turn around (Cw.) to hold hands in line again for seven steps down,
two more pairs of Balance & Kicks.

B :   Turning to face partner, skip/walk a reel of six people (start by passing your partner by the right shoulder, then the person heading towards you with your left, the next person with your right etc.).

C1:   Raised right hand turn and back with the left.

C2:   Two hand turn,

D :   Everybody join hands with their partner in a promenade hold and face along the set (to the caller’s right).  The couple at the ‘top’ (caller’s right-hand end) cast left and head down the set, where they arch…  everyone following passes through,
swing when back to place.

Cotton-Eye Joe  (Circle mixer)

Watch at:

Sounds impressive on suspended timber flooring.

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

Form:  Not a ‘line dance’.  Two, adjacent, concentric circles - all the men, in the inner circle, face Acw., their partners face Cw. in the outer circle.

Prep.:  Brace/link right palms (vertically, at chest height, palm-to-palm) with one's partner.

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

With the left foot, stomp, stomp, chassé left - swapping hands.  (2 bars)

Repeat.  (4 bars)

For the last 8 bars, either:

B:     Do-si-do one’s partner, swirly slide to the left to do-si-do the next person (your new partner) once.  (8 bars)

or:  Right elbow-turn one’s previous partner once Cw.,
left elbow-turn one’s current partner ½ Ccw.,
Right elbow-turn the next person [your next partner] once around).

or:  Allemande right one’s partner,  (4 bars)
advance eight steps to partner the next-but-one person.  (4 bars)

Facing around the circle, brace right palms to restart.

Cumberland Square Eight

Watch at:

Music:  64-bar reel.  35s: Boden et al. - C. S. E.;  33s: Jim Macleod Band - My Love She's But a Lassie Yet/Rae Horrick’s Reel/…;  32s: WttD CD 2, 17 Greensleeves Country Band - My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet, The Cheviot Ranters - My Love She’s But a Lassie Yet/Caddam Woods/Rose Tree.

Form:  Square set.

Prep.:  Ensure men have similar height/physique.

A1:   Heads (couples '1’ and '3’) galop 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:  ladies raise and join both hands into arches - men join two hands across (over the ladies), and lower arms behind the ladies’ backs and duck under the ladies’ arms.  All four 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.

Danish Double Quadrille

Music:  64-bar fast reel or polka.  33s: ‘WttD’, CD 2, Greensleeves Country Dance Band - 03 D. D. Q. (Jolly Coppersmith), Cheviot Ranters - Danish Double Quadrille.

Form:  Double Sicilian - two, side-by-side couples face two couples.

Difficulty: 2

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

A2:   Circle right for sixteen 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.  (4 + 4 bars)

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

A3:   In fours:  Right and left thru'… (8 steps),  twice.  (4 + 4 bars)

A4:   In fours:  circle left eight steps and then right.

B3 & B4:   Each couple dance (polka-step? pas-de-bas?) around the opposite couple two or three times, then go half-way round again to progress and form a new line ready to restart.  (16 bars)

The Dashing White Sergeant

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

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 could replace one of the men in a two-man ‘threesome’.  The ousted man could then make an additional ‘threesome’ with two other surplus ladies.)

1-8:   Join hands in a circle of six and circle round to the left for eight 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:  One line (say ‘2’s) raise their hands in an arch, both lines dance forward, ‘1’s duck underneath - passing to the left of their opposites.

Dance-on to meet and repeat with the next, advancing threesome.

If the room's not wide enough for a 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 back to the set, miss the circling (1–8), then carry-on as normal.

Dorset Four Hand Reel

In the 21st century, tends to be performed more for ‘displays’ than socially.

Music:  2 x 64 + 8 bars, AABB + 8 final swing; rant, WttD II - 06 Dorset Four Hand Reel;  33s per 32 bars (sprightly!): Blowzabella - D. F. H. R. set.

Form:  cross-ways 2-couple set, ladies back-to-back in the middle facing out towards their partner  i.e. M-L l-m.

A1:   Hey (reel of four), all start by passing right shoulders with partner.  Finish after 1¾ circuits (10 places) with men in the middle (facing each other).  l-m M-L

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

B1:   Hey again.  Finish with ladies back in the middle.  M-L l-m

B2:   Ladies ‘set’ to each other - twice to each side.
Ladies turn to their partner and ‘set’ to him.

Final 8 bars: swing partner.

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 the previous ‘outers’.

Eightsome Reel

Music:  Lively reel, 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.
52s (for 48 bars): Jim McCloud Band - Eightsome Reel;  50s: Gordon Pattullo Band - Eightsome Reel.

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 eight steps (4 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:  Couples Swing round (men-backing, 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, i.e. keep going in the same direction giving left hand, right, left… until you get back to place.  If you get back early, swing until the end of the phrase.

Main Figure - performed eight times

1-8:  1st lady goes into the centre of the set and ‘set’s i.e. pas de bas (3 steps), while the other seven circle round to the left…  and back.

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

17-24:  1st lady dances a reel of three with partner and opposite man, starting with left shoulder to partner.  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 - start the 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.

Final Chorus

Repeat the 40 bars at the start of the dance.

Goathland Square Eight

Music:  32-bar rant.  35s: WttD, CD 1, 03 - Orange and Blue - 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:   Holding hands, circle left, (4 bars)
Circle right. (4 bars)

A2:   ‘1’s and ‘3’s cross, ‘3’s arching, ‘1’s dipping, (2 bars)
‘2’s and ‘4’s cross, ‘4’s arching, ‘2’s dipping, (2 bars)
‘1’s and ‘3’s return, ‘1’s arch, (2 bars)
‘2’s and ‘4’s return, ‘2’s arch. (2 bars)

B1:   Grand chain (start with right hand to partner), (4 bars)
halfway round - swing partner. (4 bars)

B2:   Continue grand chain (passing partner, but offering one’s left hand to the next dancer), (4 bars)
meet partner and swing. (final 4 bars)

Repeat from start…

At the end of WttD 1 - 03 G. S. E., there's an extra A1 for a final swing and an A2 for a promenade.

The Heartbreaker

Author: Peter Coe

Watch us doing it at: - video by SHOCC organiser, Ian Nichols.

Music:  32-bar jig/reel or Charleston.
Reel:  35s: Natalie MacMaster - Stoney Lake Reels, Monster C. B. - Messis.
Jig:  32s: Craig Duncan - *Drummond Castle/Lads of Dunse/The Stool of Repentance;  31s: Trio - *Snug in the Blanket/Drummond Castle/Stool of Repentance.
Charleston (Goodman/Steamchicken-style).  108 beats per minute (bpm) The Viscounts - <9>Five foot Two… ; 120 bpm: Don Reno - Five Foot Two … , The Belgrade Dixieland Orchestra - Yes Sir, That's My Baby.  For a finalé: 126 bpm: Michael Holliday - *Swanee (from [0m38] 1m40 up to 2m43).

Form:  Four-couple square.

A1:   All holding hands, circle left for eight steps (ranting - if proficient),  (4 bars)
Circle right for eight 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, leave the set - each through their adjacent arch - round the outside to meet at the bottom, where they cross over, join hands, duck under that arch and cross the set back to place (turn with a California Twirl).  (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 underarm twirls Cw. - ‘Swat the Flea’) - to guide her back to…  (4)
…continue the Four-Ladies’ Chain, back to her partner (and a ‘Swat the Flea’ again - if inclined).  The man courtesy-turns her around him - gliding into…  (4)

B2:   …everyone do-si-do their corner, then do-si-do their partner.  (8)

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

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

Hullichan’s (Hooligans) Jig

Music:  6/8 or 9/8 jig – but 64 bars in total.  33s: Dave Swarbrick - Hullichan’s Jig/!Chorus Jig (both are very short, Chorus is too fast);  62s: Gordon Pattullo’s Band - Hullighan’s Jig;  30s: The Jingbang Ceilidh Band - Hullichan’s/The Curlew/Skyeman’s/Troy’s …;  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:  Each set should have men of similar height and physique - as swinging can get rather enthusiastic - so needs caution.  Practise a Pas-de-Basque step and ensure that all dancers are proficient at the turn/swing hold described below*.

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

9-16:   Link right elbows and turn partner for 16 beats, 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 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 elbows and swing new partner for 16 beats, but finish with ladies 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 elbows and swing each other for 16 beats, but finish facing their original partners. -  m-l L-M

Repeat - as desired.

* The secure ‘back swing’ or ‘turning’ hold:  facing in opposite directions, partners link right elbows, both put their left hand behind their back (palm facing outwards – as is natural).  With their right hand, they grip their partner’s left hand  i.e. the one behind their partner’s back.

Lucky Seven

Watch at:

Music:  32-bar jig/reel, ‘WttD’ CD 2 Greensleeves Country Dance Band - 11 Lucky Seven (The Happy Cavalier/Three Scamping Rogues);  34s reel: Sharon Shannon - *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: Kristin Scott Benson - The Woodchoppers Reel, Abrams Brothers - Nashville Skyline Rag, Arty McGlynn - Walter Sammon’s Grandmother/Concertina Reel/Brendan … ;  32s: Cheviot Ranters - Davy Knick-Knack/Toland Dance/Aiken Drum;  31s reel: Rún - *Road to Lisdoonvarna, Ceilidh Minogue - King’s Reel/… Laoish/Janine’s … /… set, The Demon Barbers - *Kiss Me Quick My Mammy’s … .

Form:  circle mixer.  Avoid having a six-couple set.

Difficulty:  1

Start in promenade hold (lady on the right, man’s arm over her shoulder) facing Acw. round the circle.

A1:   Promenade (for 14 steps - then undo the hold by raising both hands over the lady’s head and lady turns Cw. - releasing hands).  8 bars

A2:   All holding hands in a circle, three steps in, kick, four steps out,  4 bars
Do-si-do partner.  4 bars

B1:   Grand chain:  all the men face anticlockwise (Acw.) round the circle, all the ladies face 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:   Cross-hands swing the seventh person - your new partner.  (One person crosses their arms and the other takes their hands).  Swing clockwise for 16 steps.  8 bars

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

Margaret’s Waltz

composed by: Pat Shuldham-Shaw

Watch at:

Music:  Own tune.

Form:  Sicilian Circle – Couple facing couple.

Note:  Use folk or "one-step waltz" throughout: one travelling step - leading with the right foot - followed by two steps virtually on-the-spot.  (Concentrate on the first step [and turn shoulders] and let the other two just happen.)

A1:   Holding inside hands with partner adjacent, forward (two triple-steps) & back, right hand turn with Contrary.  8 bars

A2:   Left hand turn with partner, ladies chain across.  8 bars

B1:   With Contrary adjacent, chassé-step followed by a triple step forward and to the right, then to the left, so that couples pass and then finish back-to-back; all turn to the right and right hand star back to original place.  8 bars

B2:   Do-si-do Contrary, waltz-on with partner - passing to the right - to the next couple round.   8 bars

The Mouth of the Valleys

as written (and called) by Gordon Potts

Music:  32-bar, reel.  38s (“Plenty of time for some creative twirling.”): Celtic Fiddle Festival - *Loch Leven Castle/… /Goat Island … / … set, Lissa Schneckenburger - The Old Maid of Galway, Angelina Carberry - Pluckin’ Mad;  37s: Liz Carroll - both *Ricky’s White Face and Smokies in Arbroath;  36s: Gillian Boucher - Harem Scarem/Humours of Lissadell;  34s: Máiréad Nesbitt - *The Butterfly Reel, The Brock McGuire Band - *The Moving Cloud, Caladh Nua - *By Heck, Nathan Gourley - *Heights of Muingbhatha, Katie Grennan - Reels - Traditional;  33s: Solas - *Sproggies, The Gothard Sisters - Celebration Reel, Tune Makers or Shaskeen Céilí Band - *Bucks of Oranmore, Brendan Block - *Flight of the Penguins/Fleur de Mandragore (4s pause at 1m52), Monster Ceilidh Band - *Reasoning;  32s: Kevin Griffin - *Green Mountain/… Westport/… Oranmore, Wake Up Robin - *Rainy Night.

Form:  Five/six couple Circassian circle - everyone facing their partner.

A1:   Men dance/walk a figure-of-eight:  Cw. around their partner then cross-over to go Acw. around their neighbour (the lady behind).  (8 bars)

A2:   Ladies dance/walk a figure-of-eight:  Cw. around their partner then Acw. around their neighbour (the man behind).  (8)

B1:   Men half-turn their partner Cw. by either a ‘short’ right arm, i.e. a forearm grip, or a ‘cupped’ elbow - but no thumbs, half-turn their neighbour by the left arm, and half-turn their partner again by the r. arm.  (8)

B2:   Offering their left hand back to their neighbour (their new partner), men curl ½ Acw., placing their r. arm over their new partner’s shoulders - so everyone faces Acw. around the circle.
New couples promenade (‘Varsouvienne’-style) around the circle - roughly back to place - to face one’s (new) partner in a re-formed circle.  (8)

Panshanger Sicilian Circle

by Barry Goodman

Music:  32-bar polka or jig.  32s jig: Tiger Moth - Oats and Beans and Barley Grow, Alban Fuam - The Wishing Well/Apples in Winter/… set;  21s for 16 bars polka: Nightingale - Newmarket Polka/Trip to Dingle;  38s for 32 bars: Lissa Schneckenburger - Jamie Allen;  35s polka: Cheviot Ranters - Call of the Pipes/Barren Rocks of Aden/… ;  32s: Art Stamper - Barndance Polka, Ronan Hardiman - *Irish Polka;  31s polka: Sláinte - Britches full of Stitches/Munster Bank/Bill Sullivan’s set.

Form:  Sicilian Circle.

In circles of four, holding hands.  Cw.-facing couples are ‘1’s.

A1:   Circle left eight quick-ish steps,
Still holding hands, circle right.

A2:   Do-si-do partner,
Do-si-do opposite.

B1:   Ladies’ chain,
‘1’s arch and ‘2’s duck under.

B2:   ‘2’s arch and ‘1’s back under,
‘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 (some sing-along vocals).

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, men facing out.

A:     With both arms out-stretched to the side, hold hands with partner.

‘Heel-toe’:  ‘Heel’ into the circle (or, if space is limited, Acw. around the circle), ‘toe’ - heel adjacent to ball of outer foot…  repeat;  4 beats, 2 bars

Slide four times (eight steps) to man’s left  i.e. into the middle of the circle (or Acw. round the circle),  2 bars

With outside foot, ‘heel-toe’ twice towards the outside (or Cw.),  2 bars

Slide four steps - back to place.  2 bars

B:    Clap right hands with partner three times (fast-ish), clap left hands with partner three times,  2 bars

Clap both partner’s hands three times, clap own thighs/knees three times.  2 bars

polka around with the same partner.  4 bars

or progress:
Right elbow turn once.  2 bars
Continue-on, passing one’s partner (men go Acw.) to the next person round.  2 bars

A variation:  Change Places crossing to the left of partner while also half-turning Acw. (so pass back-to-back - using about five steps), then march on-the-spot - hands on hips.  4 bars.

La Russe Quadrille

Watch at:

Music:  64-bar polka.
64-bar: 34s: Boden - 01 La Russe (FSCD 02, 2005)
32-bar: 35s: Cheviot Ranters - Call of the Pipes/Barren Rocks of Aden/… set;  34s: Tiger Moth - Larousse;  32s: Cheviot Ranters - Original/Good Humour/Come Let Us Dance and Sing.

Form:  4-couple square.

A1:   All pass their partner by the left shoulder i.e. men pass outside the ladies, to meet the next person of the opposite gender - who should be coming towards them, balance (‘set’ to the right, then left)  (4 bars)…  & swing.  (4 bars)

A2:   Return back to place with a Cw. twirl - passing to the left of partner.  (2 bars)
Face partner, Balance & Kick  (2 bars)…  & swing.  (4 bars)

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:   Head couples cross (with a rant step) - ‘1’s, dip, ‘3’s arc.  (At the far side, couples could ‘California Twirl’ to change place and direction.)  (If everyone's nifty, ‘2’s and ‘4’s could follow immediately.)

A4:   Repeat A3 i.e. the ‘dip and arch’ to cross back (‘1’s arching).

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

B4:   Promenade (ranting, 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, ‘3’s, and then ‘4’s.  Finally both heads (‘1’s & ‘3’s) dance B1, B2 and A3 at the same time (‘1’s cross first again)… ,  then both ‘side’ couples do B1, B2 and A3 together.


by Ron Cox

Music:  40-bar (or 2 x 20-bar) reel.  Colin Dewar - Mairie's Wedding

Form:  Sicilian circle, double progression

A1:   Circle right, circle left,  8 bars

A2:   Star r, star l.  8

A2:   Balance & swing partner.  8

B1:   1st corner do-si-do, 2nd corner do-si-do.  8

B2:   lines forward and back,  4
‘1’s arch, ‘2’s dive under.  Continuing round, ‘2’s arch, ‘1’s dive under.  4

Suicide Square

Watch at: (a relatively relaxed execution.)

Music:  32-bar double-jig (for the galop).  33s: Jim Macleod - Rory O'More/The Lynmore Jig/… ;  32s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - *Maureen’s Fancy/The Ceili Jig/The Swinging Jig, Dave Swarbrick - The Swallow’s Tail/Rakes Of Kildare/Blackthorn Stick, Altan - The Gap of Dreams/Nias …/… , Olive Hurley - Shandon Bells/Nova Scotia/Cherish The Lady;  31s: The Climax Ceilidh Band - *Spike !with a 19s 'swing' at 3m00, The Scottish Fiddle Orch. - Jakes Jig/Well for Water, John Whelan - Humours Of Glendart/Leitrim Fancy/Paddy In London; 30s: FullSet - The Lost & Found, John Whelan - Francis O'Neill’s/…/…;  29s (so slow it by c. 10%): Whapweasel - *Badunga.

Form:  A big squared circle.

A1:   Everyone in ballroom hold - the head ends of the room galop eight steps across the room and back.  (8 bars)

A2:   Sides do the same.  (8)

B1:   Two-handed Balance & Kick twice,  (4)
Swing your partner.  (4)

B2:   Men form an inner circle facing out, women form an outer circle facing in, everybody circle to their left.  (6)
Face a new partner and take ballroom hold.  (2)  ‘Lost’ raise their hand.

Sybil’s Roundabout

Watch at: and:

Music:  32-bar jig.  35s: Sláinte - Celtic Jig/Leitrim Fancy; 32s: Kevin Burke & Cal Scott - *The Green Fields of Woodford/Seanamhac … (or 114 bpm Charleston: Randy Spendlove/Piccadilly - Happy Feet).

Form:  Couples in a large circle - men on their partner’s left.  All hold hands, facing in.  Progressive.  Can also, with minor modification, be performed as a Contra.

A1:   Walk four steps in to the center of the circle, and retire (four steps back-out),
walk four steps in again, then the lady retires, the man takes two steps forward and half-turns to face her.

A2:   Do-Si-Do partner,  (4 bars)
Chassé left twice (or, for enthusiastic participants, four galop steps i.e. a ‘Side-close’ per beat - for four beats),  (2)
Chassé right twice or four galops; (2)  end with your partner diagonally to your left.  Take left hands with your partner and right hands with the person diagonally to your right (to form a wavy line).

B1:   Balance (four beats: pull/step forward, tap/kick…  lean/step back, tap),  (2 bars)
Allemande left your partner to change places with them,  (2 bars)
Balance the new line,  (2)
Allemande right your new partner to change places.  (2)

B2:   Allemande left your third partner ¾-turn to return to your second partner,
swing (ballroom hold, buzz step) your second partner.
Fall-back into a circle to repeat.

The Wizard’s Walk

By Ruth Ungar

Watch at:

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..

Form:  Sicilian circle - i.e. a large circle comprising couple-facing-couple… or longways lines of couples (1’s improper).

Preparation:  Couples facing Cw. are ‘1’s, ‘2’s face Acw. … or, if in a line, hands four from the top, ‘1’s are improper.

A1:   In circles of four holding hands, circle left half-way  (4 steps/beats),
balance (raise hands to chest height, step forward into the circle, small ‘stomp’ on the other foot while pulling together.  Back-step out, tap).  (4 beats).
Repeat the circle left to get back to place…  and balance.

A2:   In circles of four - starting with neighbour - grand chain (r. hand first - men go Cw.) four places, i.e. chain right round, then smoothly gypsy Cw. (passing right shoulders) 1¼ times round your neighbour - progressing-on to a new neighbour.

B1:   In circles of four, holding hands, balance (pull & step inwards, tap, step-back, tap) and swing partner (in a ballroom hold).  Finish with ‘1’s facing Cw. round the circle and ‘2’s facing Acw. - men on their partner’s left.  If reached an end, swap designation, turn back and wait-out a turn.

B2:   Wizard’s Walk (a bit like a ‘reel of three’ - but where, throughout the ‘Walk’, participants keep facing in one direction):  everyone walks forward, ‘1’s separate outside the ‘2’s (twirling outwards - if there’s enough space), who'll be moving forward, together and up towards them, meet (with an optional inward twirl) and continue down to split the next ‘2’s (who'll be moving apart and up).  ‘1’s separate (with a twirl again - if desired) and back up outside those ‘2’s (who’ll also be backing), meet and back-up between the ‘2’s (whom they met at ‘B1’), with whom they re-form a two-couple circle, to restart the dance.

Wring Out the Dishrag/Dishcloth / Dive for the Oyster

Watch at:  with a slightly ‘busier’ B1 than below.

Music:  32-bar polka.  16 bars in 21s: Nightingale - Newmarket Polka/Trip to Dingle;  35s: Brian Roe - Sean Ryan’s Polka;  34s: Craig Duncan - Grandfather/Clarinet Polka  {Grandparents Polka };  32s: Art Stamper - Barndance Polka.

Formation:  ‘Scatter’ version: two-couple (improper) sets - for as many as will…  or, for ten couples or more, a Sicilian circle.

Difficulty:  3

A1:   In fours (two-couples) holding hands, circle to the left eight steps…  (4 bars)
Swap to a star left (grip right wrists at waist height).  (4)

A2:   Star right eight steps  (4)
Circle right eight steps.  (4)

B1:   Still holding hands, ‘2’s (couples facing anti-clockwise) make an arch and ‘1’s pass under it, turn away from each other, raise (and twist) their still joined hands over their own heads.  Both couples, facing into the minor set, lower their crossed-hands in front of themselves - making a ‘four-leaf clover’.  Admire!  (4)
The ‘1’s, now facing Acw., turn towards each other - without releasing hands - and raise an arch, ‘2’s pass under it and turn away from each other to unwind i.e. ‘Wring out the dishrag’.  (4)

B2:   For the Sicilian Circle form:  take four steps forward, four steps back,  (4)  ‘2’s arch for ‘1’s to pass under and move-on Cw.;  (4)

or, for ‘scatter’ version:  polka-off to find a new couple (need to agree new ‘1’ & ‘2’ designation).

Zig Zag

Music:  32-bar jig or reel.

Jig:  34s: Celtic Fiddle Festival - Old Apples in Winter/Knocknagow Jig;  33s: Patrick Street - *The Shores of Lough Gowna/Contentment is… set;  32s: Kevin Burke & Cal Scott - *The Green Fields of Woodford/Seanamhac … , 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, The Fretless - *Mary’s Jigs;  30s (‘slow’ it by 10%): The Gothard Sisters - *Midsummer Jigs, Brendan Block - *Kates/The Mill Roof.

Reel:  42s (slow enough for a ‘swagger’/‘strut’ step): Johnny Cash - Casey Jones;  39s: Liz Carroll - Old Maid of Galway, Sam Bartlett - Rumblestrip;  37s: The String Sisters - *The Crow’s Visit;  36s: The Fretless - *Macleods Farewell/Palmers;  35s: We Banjo 3 - Road to Eirogee/President Garfield, The Elderberries - *Torn Jacket/Boy in the Boat/Toss … set;  34s: Natalie MacMaster - *Lively Steps, La Famille Arsenault - *La Reel Mon Oncle Albert/Whiskey Before Breakfast;  33s: Tidal Wave - **Reel a Bruce/De Terrebonne/Du Nord set, Banjo & Fiddles - *Irish Set, Alasdair Fraser & Paul Machlis - *Tommy’s Tarbukas, The Retrospectacles - *Farewell to Tchernobyl/Tommy’s Tarbukas, Caitlin Warbelow & Friends - *Father Kelly’s/Reconciliation/… /MacArthur Road set, Becky Tracy - *Folan’s/Corner …/Red-haired Lass set, Brittany Haas & Friends - Bill Malley’s/*The E-B-E Reel;  32s: The Faux Paws - Rainy Night, Alasdair Fraser & Haas - Calliope House/MacArthur Road/Frank’s Reel -> Natalie MacMaster - Three Reels, Randal Bays - Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie, Séamus Egan - Mason’s Apron (a double reel).

Form:  Sicilian Circle - couple-facing-couple.  For ten couples or more.

A1:   Men cross their set by pulling ‘l. h. through’ with the opposite man (4 beats, 2 bars);  men continue round, pulling ‘r. h. through’ with the man approaching from the adjacent set.  (2 bars)  All the men have now zig-zagged to their adjacent set.
All l. h. star.  (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’, dance a two-couple, R-L Grand Chain (starting with your partner, pass four hands) back to place.  (6 bars)
When back to place, swing your partner.