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Retired contra dances

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Dances or versions of dances of mine I not longer use. They're alright, but I've written better. I'd recommend visiting my other two pages instead. Consider this an archival page, so you don't need the wayback machine.

Circle mixers

Variants of existing dances


Triple minors

Circle mixers

Petronella Mixer
Chris Page variant of a traditional dance
Circle Mixer
A1 Partner right-hand balance [1]
   Spin to the right as in Petronella [2]
   Partner right-hand balance
   Spin to the right as in Petronella
A2 Partner right-hand balance
   Spin to the right as in Petronella
   Partner right-hand balance
   Spin to the right as in Petronella
B1 Partner balance
   Partner swing
B2 Promenade counterclockwise (14) [3]
   Ladies turn back, give right hand to next (2)
[1] Purists may want to exchange the spins and balances, in which case it's better to make the B1 Do-si-do and swing partner, to prevent a super-long swing.
[2] As in the original dance "Petronella," where only two people were in the center. It's equivalent to an allemande left 1/4, but without hands, and you individually rotate clockwise as you do so.
For an identical movement, see the A1 of "Country Doctor's Reel" by Merilee Karr in the book "Give and Take."
[3] Or, if you like, lead around counterclockwise. That just means instead of being in promenade position, the gent's right hand is in the lady's left hand. The other hands are free.

The traditional dance "Petronella" is already almost a circle mixer. The only thing that doesn't fit is the right and left through. (And the cast.) Replacing it with a balance and swing also cures the Issue modern dancers have.

This is another mixer that I was surprised no-one had already written.

Deprecated because it's too repetitive for its own good, without teaching anything useful beyond the swing. A cute theoretical exercise, though.

Variants of existing dances

Contemporary California Reel
Chris Page variant of a traditional dance
Becket [1]
A1 With partner, shift left (4)
   Balance, facing neighbor N2 across (4) [2]
   With partner, shift right (4)
   Circle right 1/2 with neighbor N1 (4)
A2 With partner, shift right (4)
   Balance, facing neighbor N2 across (4)
   With partner, shift left (4)
   Circle left 1/2 with neighbor N1 (4)
B1 Left diagonal ladies chain (to N2)
   Ladies chain to shadow
B2 Partner balance
   Partner swing
[1] At the beginning of the dance, your shadow is in your line, on the other side of your partner.
[2] A step-swing balance might be better here. (Step on right foot, swing left foot over right foot; return left foot to place and step on left foot, swing right foot over left foot and back.) My idea is you're holding your partner's hand, but not your neighbor's.
Alternatively, use a forward and back balance. (Two steps forward towards your neighbor, two steps back. A mini forward-and-back.)

An updating of an old dance, "California Reel." How old? I found it in an online manuscript from the 1860's.

Deprecated because it doesn't really fit the modern dance tradition, with the balances across. I kind of like the concept, though.

Expanding the Ever-Expanding Circle
Chris Page variant of a Leonard Ellis dance
Becket, counterclockwise
Double progression
Needs special music (48-bar tune)
A1 Partner two-hand turn clockwise
   Partner two-hand turn counter-clockwise
A2 Circle right in groups of four (with N1)
   Circle left
B1 Entire set form a giant oval and circle/oval to the left [1]
   Entire set circle/oval to the right [2]
B2 Right diagonal right and left through
   Ladies allemande right 1 & 1/2 [3]
C1 Neighbor N3 balance
   Neighbor N3 swing
C2 Gents allemande left 1 & 1/2
   Partner swing
[1] As in the A2 of "CDS Reel" by Ted Sannella.
[2] End across from original neighbors.
[3] Ladies may need to look on their slight left diagonal for that new lady, but there should be a new couple across from them at this point.

A variant of "The Ever Expanding Circle" by Leonard Ellis. The original dance was a very neat concept, yet for once the piece count [4] seemed low, especially given the challenge in needing to know which side you should be on, and your progressed neighbor's identity. It was a good excuse to write a 48-bar sequence, as the only thing rarer than 48-bar dances are 48-bar dances with decent piece counts. Still, the musical limitations make my variant less generally useful than the original.

Deprecated because while it looks elegant on paper, circling for 22 seconds is a bit much.

[4] For definition of "piece count," check the books "Zesty Contras" and "Give-and-Take." Stop making excuses and buy them already! :)

Jersey Roundabout
Chris Page variant of a Sue Rosen dance
A1 Down the hall in a line of four (ones in center)
   Turn alone, return
A2 Circle left 1/2
   Ladies roll away neighbor (on side)
   Circle left 1/2
   Ladies roll away partner (across set)
B1 Neighbor swing
B2 Right and left through
   Ones swing, face down

An attempt to extract out the "right-hand-high-left-hand-low" bit from Sue Rosen's "Garden State of Mind." It's not as easy as it looks, and each try did more damage to the dance than it fixed. This variant, however, was worth keeping as the circle/roll-away figure has the ladies doing the rolling away rather than the gents.

The B2 was stolen from the revised version of Dan Pearl's "Brimmer and May Reel."

Deprecated because there's better circle-roll-circle-roll dances out there, without a 16-beat neighbor swing and a klunky B2. My current favorite is "Clipper" by Don Flaherty.

Swinging Jenny
Chris Page variant of a probably Ralph Page dance [1]
Double progression
A1 Ones swing, face down (16) [2]
A2 Neighbor swing (8)
   Ones swing, face down (8)
B1 With next neighbors, down the hall in a line of four
   Turn alone, return [3]
B2 Right and left through
   Right and left through
[1] Or possibly Sammy Spring. Certainty is lost in the mists of folk process.
[2] An alternate here would be long lines, ones swing.
[3] A hand cast gives this more of a chestnutty feeling, but a bend the line can also work.

"Swing Your Jenny" is an old enough dance that it's been folk-processed into a toolkit of various dance options, rather than just one particular form. It can be proper or improper. If improper, the B2 can be a ladies chain over and back. And the timing on the A's can be fudged.

My modification is making it double progression, giving a higher turnover between the roles of ones and twos. Since the cool part of the ride is reserved for the ones, this not only gives everyone a fighting chance for activity in lengthy lines, but also hastens your rest period. I've also done a "Haymaker's Jig" tweak by mutating the B1 into a down the hall in a line of four.

Deprecated because there's other more equal, better swing-to-swing-to-swing transitions out there.

Trip to Lambertville Variant
Chris Page variant of a Steve Zakon-Anderson dance
A1 Ladies walk forward to long wave in center
   Balance long wave
   Ladies back out while gents walk forward to long wave
   Balance long wave
A2 Gents allemande left 3/4 to wave of four
   Balance wave of four
   Neighbor swing
B1 Circle left 3/4
   Partner swing
B2 Long lines forward and back
   Ladies chain

As the title indicates, a variant of Steve Zakon-Anderson's dance, but more generally a dance of the "Snake River Reel" lineage. While I love "Trip to Lambertville", coming out of the swing immediately to a right-and-left through is tough for new dancers. Which is a shame, since the distinctive A1 is very nice for beginners. So I've simplified it slightly, while keeping the essentials. On the plus side, in this variant gents only once allemande left in the center. On the minus, the dance has been infected with a circle left 3/4.

Since putting this dance on the web, I've run across the above as a known variant of "Trip to Lambertville" -- the only difference is the A2 wave balance is omitted. So it's even more unoriginal than I originally guessed.

Deprecated because it's unoriginal.

Vicky's Reel
Chris Page variant of a Martyn Harvey dance
A1 Ones sashay down [1]
   Ones sashay up, facing (new) neighbor [2]
A2 Neighbor sashay down [3]
   Neighbor sashay back
B1 Neighbor do-si-do
   Neighbor swing
B2 Long lines forward and back
   Ones swing
[1] The sashays are done holding two hands with the other person.
[2] Ones turn individually to face up, then keep turning till they face their neighbor. Technically it's a cloverleaf turn in place.
The hard part of this dance is to make sure the ones finish their sashay progressed, facing new neighbors each time through the dance.
[3] Either or both of these sashays could just be lead downs, depending on your assessment of the dancers' knees and ankles.

A clean-up of the B2 (and the B1 to compensate) of "Good Queen Vic" by Martyn Harvey.

Deprecated because contra dancers aren't fans of constant sashays. And if they're not controlled, they can be dangerous with running into the other person.

Yarn Dance
Chris Page variant of many other dances
Improper (wave of four) [1]
A1 Balance wave of four 
   Slide right [2]
   Balance wave of four
   Slide left
A2 Neighbor balance
   Neighbor swing
B1 Give and take to gent's side [3]
   Partner swing
B2 Shift left
   Circle left 3/4 with N2
   Neighbor do-si-do 1 & 1/4 to wave of four
[1] Right hand to neighbor, ladies in the center joining left hands, ones facing down.
[2] As in the dance "Rory o' More," everyone sidesteps to their right, passing nose to nose with their neighbor. They can spin clockwise if they choose. (Counterclockwise when they later slide left.) Now the gents are in the center of the wave of four, with left hands to neighbor.
[3] Often with a give-and take, gents want to adjust by pulling back slightly on the right diagonal to end up directly across from the original couple. In this case, no adjustment is necessary, and it's better if couples are somewhat to the left of their original neighbors at the end of the swing.

This dance's name is an acronym: Yet-Another-Rory-Neighbor Dance. There's a large cluster of very similar dances with the pattern:

A1 Wave of four neighbor Rory o' More figure.
A2 Balance and swing neighbor
B1 Connecting figure to partner swing on sides
B2 Set up next wave of four

Somewhere a progression is also slipped in, most typically at the bottom of the B2.

Dances that resemble this include "Beck and Call" by David Smukler, "Black Bird in the Night" by Don Flaherty, "Earl & Squirrel" by Chris Weiler, "The Good Life" by Bob Isaacs, "Rock the Cradle Joe" by Ridge Kennedy, "Saturday Night Line" by Joseph Pimentel, "Theory of Mind" by David Smukler, "Two More" by Tony Saletan, and "You Can Get There From Here" by Linda Leslie. And there's yet others I've seen in videos.

Yet none of them had a B2 that made me completely happy. In the simplest ones, the B2 seemed either a beat short or long. That's what motivated me to try this particular combination of figures, which otherwise wound up being very similar to Joseph Pimentel's version. Using the give-and-take saves one beat from the progress and circle left because couples are already offset. And putting the do-si-do after the progression (which several others dances do) leaves dancers better able to catch up to the A1 balance.

Update, 1/2012: And it turns out that "YARN Dance" isn't original. It's almost identical to the folk-processed version of "Cheat Lake Twirl" by Perry Shafran. The only difference is that "Cheat Lake Twirl" adds a balance before the give-and-take.

Deprecated because it's already be done, probably before I wrote this one.


Another for the Money
by Chris Page
A1 Long lines forward and back
   Right and left through [1]
A2 Balance ring [2]
   Petronella turn
   Partner swing
B1 Gents allemande left 1 & 1/2
   Neighbor swing, face up
B2 Up the hall in a line of four 
   Centers (twos) turn as a couple, ends turn alone
   Down the hall in a line of four
   Face across
[1] Same-sex right and left through, with new neighbors.
[2] A simpler version would have circle left 3/4 instead of the petronella turn. The trade-off would be a weaker transition into the partner swing for the twos.

Written for Frannie Marr, who was going to be calling "Money Musk" in Anaheim, CA. She was interested in a teaching dance with a same sex right and left through that didn't require learning a half figure eight, and was all-active with plenty of swings. Since I didn't know of any, I wrote this instead.

Needs room at the top of the set for the up the hall. May drift down.

Deprecated because while it does the job nicely, it's got all the elegance of a water buffalo caught in an oil slick. Stick with "Path to the Past" instead.

Common Courtesies
by Chris Page
A1 (new) Ladies allemande right 1 & 1/4  [1]
   Partner swing
A2 Long lines forward and back
   Ladies chain
B1 Ladies right shoulder round 1
   Neighbor swing
B2 Neighbor promenade
   Right and left through
[1] It helps if gents take a sidestep or two to their left, to keep the minor sets squared up.

This is a dance without a purpose. Its original goal was to include all three courtesy turns with your neighbor as a teaching exercise. However, there are no 16-beat figures, and the progression is subtle, making it tricky if you have a significant number of beginners. (And if you don't, you probably don't need the drill.) For this purpose I now prefer "Contra Primer" by Melanie Axel-Lute, in her book "One Good Tern."

Which leaves "Common Courtesies" out in the cold. It's still an interesting dance for the ladies, but it's not one I use often.

Deprecated because of interference issues, and there's other dances that do this better.

Roll Reversal
by Chris Page
A1 Neighbor right shoulder round
   Neighbor swing
A2 Circle left 3/4
   Shift left with partner to next neighbors [1]
   Circle left 1
B1 Partner swing
B2 Gents chain [2]
   Ladies roll away gents after courtesy turn [3]
   1/2 hey (Ll,Pr,Gl)
   Face same neighbor (N2)
[1] Note the ladies lead this shift left.
[2] Gents pull by left, give right to neighbor. Ladies reach behind the gent's back with left hand, and scoop up the gents in a clockwise courtesy turn, gents going forward and ladies going backwards.
[3] There's a quick hand change between the courtesy turn and roll-away. Ladies need to change from the right-to-right and left-to-left handhold of the courtesy turn into a handhold of her left hand and his right hand, still standing side-by-side. This should lead naturally into the ladies rolling away the gents. This is similar to the hand change gents do with the ladies chain and roll-away transition in other dances.

This dance started with the name, a pun bad enough that I had to come up with a dance to match. What makes this dance hard is the change in gender roles of gents leading and ladies following. In my mind, it's a good thing, but it can push this dance into the difficult level.

Deprecated because there's now plenty of other dances that do this, and this dance is punishingly clockwise.

Sneaker Reel
by Chris Page
Double progression
A1 Left diagonal right and left through [1] 
   Circle left 1 with N3
A2 Partner allemande right 1/2
   Ladies cross set while gents loop right (box circulate)
   Neighbor N3 swing
B1 Hey (Gl,Pr,Ll,N3r,Gl,Pr,Ll,N3r)
B2 Continue hey (gents pass left while ladies loop)
   Partner swing
[1] For better results, replace the courtesy turn with a California Twirl. Finish facing N3.

So named because it's possible to sneak up behind the person you're swinging. (Ladies with their neighbors, gents with their partners.)

Deprecated because it's double progression. I've since written a single progression version: "Sneaker Reel 2."

Trip to San Diego
by Chris Page
A1 Ones lead down the center
   Ones turn as a couple
   Ones return
   Ones cast around twos [1]
A2 Ones cross set, pass by right shoulders
   Neighbor swing
B1 Neighbor right shoulder round 1 [2]
   Promenade single file in group of four clockwise 1
B2 Ones balance
   Ones swing, face down
[1] You may want to emphasize that the cast is around new neighbors, not the neighbors of the previous time. This is a same-sex cast.
[2] The inverse of a shoulder-round meltdown transition. As folk process dances it, the swing finishes facing across, and then face your neighbor for a slight tug into the right shoulder round. As originally intended, the swing slows down to a safe speed, and then you slowly disengage from your neighbor into a more distant shoulder-round. Either way, I put the transition in a clear musical break between the A and the B. Also, at the end of the shoulder-round it doesn't matter who's on the right, and who's on the left.

I include this dance with trepidation, because it's intentionally not a happy dance, and hence in some ways goes against the basic philosophy of contra dance.

I was moving away from my original dance community in Philadelphia, and wanted to express my feelings about leaving as best as I fumblingly could. Saying goodbye hurts, and this dance was meant to act this out with your neighbors. The kernel of the idea came from the swing-shoulder round transition, followed by the rule that you couldn't touch your neighbors after the swing. The rest of the dance just supports those odd requirements.

Use at your own risk, though its uniqueness may warrant the risk. Or inspire other, better dances by you.

Deprecated for reasons stated above. It's not a happy dance.

Wind-up Your Neighbor, 2007 double progression version
by Chris Page
Double progression
A1 Left diagonal right and left through [1]
   Circle left 1
A2 Draw pousette neighbor N3 clockwise 3/4 [2]
   Two-hand turn neighbor N3 1 & 1/2 [3]
B1 1/2 hey (Gl,Pr,Ll)
   Neighbor N3 swing
B2 Ladies allemande right 1 & 1/2
   Partner swing
[1] For better results, replace the courtesy turn with a California Twirl. Finish facing N3.
[2] Draw pousette is a figure from English Country Dancing, so if you don't understand the rest of this, go ask an ECD regular to demonstrate.
A draw pousette is a pousette where you rotate as a couple while you are moving.
As used in this dance, your body is in the same place as it would be for a circle left 3/4. You face your neighbor the entire time, so the lady backs up as the gent goes forward. To be overly technical, the imaginary line connecting you and your neighbor is perpendicular to the line connecting the center of your hands-four to the midpoint between you and your neighbor.
A demo is advised for this move, as it's worth at least 132 words. It's really a lot simpler than it sounds.
[3] Technically it doesn't matter how many times around it goes. Just use the momentum to launch someone into the center of the set, passing left shoulders in the center.

This started from an interest in the pousette to two-hand turn transition, and kept building from there. It has a different ECD-like feel.

Other variants include "Wind-up Your Partner," where most of the action is done with your partner; and "The Full Wind-up," where all the action is done with your partner.

Deprecated because I've rewritten this as single progression, so you don't skip neighbors. Go see the revised version.

Triple Minors

TLC Tempest, 2009 version
by Chris Page
Triple Minor -- Modified Tempest/Triad formation [1] [2]
Double progression [3]
A1 Partner balance
   Partner swing
A2 Down the hall in a line of six, turn as couples
     (centers go a bit further before turning, to hook up
       with a new group of six.) [4]
   Up the hall. Sides face across. Ones (centers) face right [5]
B1 Three ladies chain: [6]
   Lady 1 and Lady 2 chain (4)
   Lady 2 and Lady 3 chain (4)
   Lady 3 and Lady 1 chain (4)
   Lady 1 and Lady 2 chain (4)
B2 Three ladies chain continues:
   Lady 2 and Lady 3 chain (4)
   Lady 3 and Lady 1 chain (4 or 8)
   Partner left shoulder round (8 or 4) [7]
[1] Take a standard triple minor set-up: hands six, ones progress down, twos and threes progress up. Have the ones cross over to become improper. Twos cross over, and circle one quarter with the threes so they're Becket-like. Twos and threes then step away from each other, and ones lead down about two steps till they're between the other couples, as if ready to form a line of six facing down the hall, ones in the middle and twos on one end, threes on the other.
This dance could be thought of as Tempest formation with only one couple #1 between each pair of twos. (As in "Garbology" by Erik Hoffman, from "The Contrarian.") Or it could be thought of as a double progression triple minor where twos and threes are becket, and ones are improper between the twos/threes. This is similar to "Alamo Triad" and "Twenty-First of May Contra" by Bob Marr; and "Bastille Day Reel #1 and #2" by Al Olson. (All those dances are in "Give-and-Take.")
[2] End effects at the top: Every third time through the dance, two couples get spit out at the top. The both wait out improper, one below the other. One will get in the next time, the other will have to wait another time. Entry is in the A2, but a late start isn't a problem, since the side couples will come back up for them while they're racing down the set to catch up.
End effects at the bottom: Couples just wait out on the sides, Becket-like, for a full hands-six to come to them. Since this is double progression, there shouldn't be any couples at the bottom accidentally trapped there forever.
[3] Note the twos and threes never trade roles as they work their way up the set. The dance is pretty symmetric between the roles of the twos and threes, but the end of the A2 could be tweaked to make it alternating. [5]
[4] The progression happens here. Ones leave their sixsome, and walk forward a bit to join a new group of six. There is no progression at the end of the B2.
[5] It actually doesn't matter whether the ones face the side couple on the left or on the right. However, the notation for this dance transcription assumes couple 1 faces couple 2. To make it perfectly fair [3] and a bit more complex, the facing direction of the ones could alternate; or done to random dancer choice.
[6] The three ladies chain figure is a sequence of six two-couple ladies chains. The middle gent only does half-courtesy turns, alternating the direction of the ladies chain. (He acts as a kind of revolving door.) It all ends where it starts. A standard full ladies chain (over and back) is to a hey for four as a full three ladies chain is to a hey for six.
[7] The left-shoulder round should theoretically take eight beats. Except that couples one and three will probably finish their courtesy turn of the last ladies chain. So for them the shoulder-round will only be four beats long.

The three-ladies chain figure is a traditional western square dance figure from the first half of the 20th century. (Now watchable on Youtube.) In that context, the number one couple would lead out to the right, and interact with both side couples simultaneously.

For a triple minor, this dance is rather forgiving. It has a piece count of four or five, a very forgiving progression, and a long partner swing. And it's all-active, except for waiting out once or twice at the top/bottom.

For the teaching, you never need give the numbers of the side couples. Just call them "side couples."

Deprecated because I cleaned up the progression. Go see the revised version.