... What's a Hey?

There are many variations but a 'Hey' is a weaving in and out movement when you are dancing in a line of people.

A Straight Hey for Three

The idea behind a 'straight hey' is:

  • You are dancing with your line of men (or your line of women)...
  • You are dancing up and down your set...
  • You don't want to hit anybody :-)
  • You have to get back to where you started...
  • Everybody moves, it is not one person dancing round the others...

Assume you are in a line of three, the mantra is...

  • You pass the people coming towards you with alternate shoulders...
  • You are drawing a 'figure eight' on the floor.
  • When you are at the top of the set you do a broad turn the right and pass the person coming towards you right shoulders...
  • When you are at the bottom of the set you do a broad turn the left and pass the person coming towards you left shoulders...

In detail...

To describe this in detail, you start by:

  • If you are at the top of the set (say, you are dancing as a man and are in the first man's position, the 'Red Arrow' in the image), face down
  • Otherwise face up...

If you are in the middle of the set, you have to remember to face up... the people at the bottom of the set will face up anyway as there is nowhere else reasonable to face :-)

You then dance a 'figure eight' in your line with each person doing something slightly different:

...The top

...the middle

  • The middle person, the green arrow, heads up to the top of the set and does broad turn right to face down again and sees the bottom coming towards him/her. They pass right shoulders...

...the bottom

  • The bottom person, the blue arrow, pauses a little until he sees the top heading towards him, passes him/her left shoulders and the middle right shoulders. At the top of the set he/she similarly does a broad turn to the right.

This continues, with everybody weaving 'right shoulders/left shoulders' and doing broad turns at the ends; a turn to the right at the top of the set and a turn to the left at the bottom. See this in the animation

If learning/practicing the move try it 'with hands', this both gives clear signals to the person heading towards you and helps you to remember which side you are going

As a figure in a dance

In dances like the Staffordshire Knot the two sides are dancing parallel to each other. There will be the 'line of men' dancing a hey and the 'line of women'. It is quite reassuring to look across the set and see you partner dancing the same track in his/her set

There are other dances where both sides of the set dance a hey but as if there is a mirror down the centre of the set.

More information

The Hey (or Haye) goes back a long way: