Dances in Square Sets
I understand that the use of the square set as a country dance formation dates from the 19th century when quadrilles were fashionable. A square set consists of four couples with the woman on the right of the man. The set makes a square shape with one couple on each side. The couples may be numbered, the couple with their backs to the band are number one, twos are to their right and so on around the set. Couples one and three are sometimes referred to as head couples while two and four are side couples.
Source=Adapted by me from a dance on an insert in the memorably named and long gone "Dr Bowsers Brown Bowel Oil Band"
Music=48 bar Jig or Reel.
- A1 First couple make an arch and dance anticlockwise over the other couples.
- A2 First couple dance anticlockwise under arches made by all the other couples.
- B1 Head couples do a right and left hand star
- B2 Side couples do the same
- C1 and C2 Grand chain all the way around the set, swing partners
Strip the Willow Square
Music=48 bar Jigs/slip jigs
I often call this as a 32 bar dance and miss off the last two parts.
- A1 Head couples gallop across the set and back
- A2 Side couples do the same
- B1 and B2 Head men strip the willow around the set. (Head men right arm turn each other 3/4 way around the set, left arm turn woman; repeat 3 times until they swing their partner)
- C1 All circle right and left
- C2 Balance and swing partner.
Source=??? I've known this dance some time, I think I first danced it in the early 1980's
Music=32 bar Hornpipes
A2 is harder to explain than actually do! Use a good dotted hornpipe to emphasise the step-hop rhythm
- A1 1st Couple dance across the set, between the 3rd couple and separate, weaving in and out of the side couples until they get back home.
- A2 Millwheel (men do a right hand star, as they pass the opposite woman they put their left arm around the woman's waist and continue the star all the ways around. Drop off the woman and do a left hand star, pick up your partner and continue the star until each couple is in the original place.
- B1 Head couples cross over (give hands with opposite), Sides do the same. Repeat to get back home.
- B2 Grand chain
Old Hat Square
Source=???Danced this to music by Old Hat Dance Band (I think). I didn't consciously learn it so I have probably got some of it wrong - still an ace dance though!
Music=32 bar Polkas/reels
The A1 section is really quick, each part takes just 2 bars of music.
- A1 Head couples ballroom hold; heel and toe and 2 steps to cross over the set. Sides do the same. Repeat to place.
- A2 and B1 Men do a Right hand star 3/4 way around and turn woman with leaft arm. Repeat 3 times to get back to the original partner.
- B2 Everyone polkas around the set (flat, low polka step)
Easy Twelve Reel
Each side of the square consists of a man with a partner on each side
Source=Variation of the well known Twelve Reel.
Music= 32 bar jig/reel/polka/hornpipe
Optional extra bit: C1 all circle left. C2 baskets of 3
- A1 Head trios go forward to meet and back; women go forward and change sides (giving hands).
- A2 Sides repeat A1
- B1 Head men dance around the inside of the set with RH woman); repeat with LH women
- B2 Side men repeat B1
Source= I associate this with the Albion Band, possibly Ashley Hutchings calling?
- A1 Ballroom hold. All step in and out; turn into the next place around (anticlockwise). Repeat
- A2 Continue A1 until all dancers are back in their own place
- B1 Women star half way around. Set/balance to opposite man and swing.
- B2 Men do as B1 (will end up in opposite place but with his partner)
- A3 Heads step in and out twice, ploka across to their original place.
- A4 Sides do the same.
- B3 Grand Chain and swing partners.