Below is a selection of dances that I have written. Feel free to use them and let me know how it went if you do!

Chiltern Circle

Tune: 32 bar jig, reel or polka Set: 4 or 5 couples in small circles

A1: circle left and right
A2: into the middle and out (twice)
B1: couple number 1 arch over the set (second time through cpl number 2 etc)
B2: balance and swing partner

NOTES:This dance doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but makes a fun and simple ice-breaker! It is named after a ceilidh series I used to help to run in my home town of Dunstable.


Tune: 32 bar reel   Set:3 couple longwaysA1: No.1 couple gallop down for 4 then jump on the spot for 4, they then gallop back to the top and cast to the middle place (between the 2s and 3s).
A2: No.1 couple each start a reel of three with the couple on their left (i.e. the man with the no.2 couple and the lady with the no.3 couple).*
B1: No.1 couple end between the couple they just reeled with and join hands to form lines across. Bounce and kick x4 then forward and back (4 steps each).
B2: No.1 couple swing away from the band. All others swing partner when 1s have passed. This reforms the original set, but with a new top couple!

* This could be replaced with a figure of eight weave if the audience are not confident with reels of three (i.e. the working couple weave around the other couples, who stand still).
NOTES: The dance is named after the Biology Lecture Theatre where it was written, not the sandwich!

The 110 Year Jig

Tune: 32 bar jigs Set:lines of 3 facing lines of 3 in a longways setA1: Bounce kick x2 and walk 4 steps past opposites, then circle left halfway with the next line along. (NOTE: at the ends circle left in 3s to face back in)
A2: Repeat back to place
B1: Middle of each line does right hand star with the two ‘ends’ on their right, then swaps to left hand star with ‘ends’ on left
B2: Hold hands in lines of 3 and heel-toe x2 with right foot, then gallop right 4 steps, repeat left but pass the line you were facing (slot into the next space down) to progress

NOTES: This dance was written as a birthday present for three of my Boggart friends whose joint-birthday ceilidh I called for. The set formation was designed so that they could all dance together!

The Zig-zag Waltz

Tune: 32 bar waltz Set:4 couples in a Beckett longways set, starting with the women on the middle and the men on the endsA1: Ladies do half a right hand star in the middle (stepping in and out as they go round), then left hand turn their diagonally opposite man
A2: Repeat to home
B1: All set and turn single to R diagonal, then join right hands with this person and step in, step out and swap places (if no right diagonal then stand still for the second bit!)
B2: Repeat to left

NOTE: Everyone should magically end up next to their partners, but in a different place in the set and with the men in the middle! If I ever get around to it I might upload some diagrams, as it makes more sense when you draw it. This dance went through many different permutations before I finally found a version that was danceable, and I am indebted to Gordon Potts for contributing the idea that finally made it work!

The Zombie Gallop

Set: Square (Head couples are heros, sides are zombies) Tune:JigA1: “Run them down!” Zombies do a right and left through the middle (Right hand to opposite first), while heroes heel toe x 2 and gallop through the middle. Repeat
A2: “Lets split up” Zombies basket in middle while Heroes right and left through around outside (right to partner first)
B1: “Overconfidence” Heroes RH star 3/4 in middle whilst zombies bounce and kick (x3) then 1/2 LH turn with zombies on side to swap. Zombies RH star 3/4 in middle whilst heroes bounce and kick (x4) and end up in Hero positions.
B2: “Maybe we’re safe…” do-si-do then swing partner

The Quantock Squontra

Set: A line of square sets Tune:32 bar Reel
A1: All go into the middle and back, balance partner holding R hands and pass by the R, then pull by L with the next
A2: Balance and swing the next (original opposite)
B1: Sides (original heads) cross over (optional: heads balance) and then all swat the flea (L hand). Men make a RH star and go round half alone
B2: Men stay in star and pick up partner to star promenade three places. Original heads butterfly whirl to face new couple, original sides butterfly whirl whilst moving to the left of their original place. All swing if time.

This is definitely one of the more advanced dances on this page! The format is a hybrid between an American contra dance and a square dance, hence the name “squontra”, with the square ‘heads’ moving on like a standard contra dance line and the ‘sides’ acting like a beckett longways set. The invention of “squontra” dancing came about due to the skillful misunderstanding of some of my dance notes by Grace Jackson, whilst this particular specimen was created at the Halsway Manor Contra Dance Week in collaboration with Seth Tepfer.

p.s. if you’re interested in calling for contras check out the handouts page on Seth’s website!

The Bibbity Bobbity Boo One

Set: Beckett longways
Tune: 32 bar jigs
A1: (slide left to progress) circle left and right with couple opposite.
A2: Do-si-do your opposite, half a right and left through (starting right hand to your opposite)
B1: Balance the ring and petronella x2
B2: Balance and swing your partner
After the swing walk sideways to the left as a couple to meet a new couple for the circle left.