Where you are in lines of six, dance up to the band and high kick, turn, dance away and high kick, reel in and out of your line of six...

The annotated Cornish Six Hand Reel

Three couples in a line across the room, all facing up to the band...

There'll be lines forming up behind you, and there might be another line next to you. The people at the bottom of the room will find they've got the most room to dance...

The Dance

You need a partner, find your way onto the dancefloor and join a line facing the band.

The Music

The music can be 32 or 64 bar reels. The dance takes 64 bars...

A1: 8 steps up towards the band....

  • Hold hands in your lines of six and dance up towards the band
  • Four High Kicks, or three High Kicks, a change feet and a turn to face down

A2: ... And 8 steps away

  • Hold hands in line again and dance down the room, away from the band
  • Three more High Kicks and a turn to face your partner

B: Reel of Six...

Face your partner, you'll be doing a reel for six people.

You start passing your partner with your right shoulder, the person heading towards you with your left, the next person with your right and so on...

Remember who's in your set. When you get to the end, you'll need to cast right to face back the way you came and you'll have someone heading towards you whom you pass right shoulders with...

You will meet your partner "half way", just keep going. Cast again at the other end of the set and carry on until you get back to your original positions and meet your partner again.

C1: Right hand turn and Left hand turn...

Do what you feel the music tells you; if it is stately, be stately. If there's some Rock and Roll, do some Rock and Roll.

With your partner, in the space available...

  • Right hand turn and back with the left.

C2: ... Two hand turn. Back to Back

  • Two hand turn and pulling past each other to do a Back to Back

Everybody join hands with their partner and face right as couples...

D: Right Hand End couple, lead a double cast to the Left Hand End and arch...

Listen to the caller. They will say which end should lead the double cast and where the arches should be. Different callers can call different things.
In this description the couple at the right hand leads and makes the arch at the left hand end.

You'll be doing a "double cast", which means you keep hold of your partner and make a turn to the left... If you are at the right hand end, you have to lead...

  • The couple at the right hand end cast left and head towards the left hand end of the set with everybody following.
  • Form an arch at the Left Hand end.
  • Everyone following, pass through underneath.

When you are making the arch, arrange it along the line so people can duck through it while heading away from the band. Remember that people going through have to dance back to their new places in the line.

When you get back to place you'll have time for a swing, and get back into line ready to dance back up to the band

Variations: More than one way of doing it...

You'll find callers who call different sequences of moves in the C2 part; the Back to Back before the Two Hand turn. Do what you prefer...

More information: Origins...

See also...

Cornish Six Hand Reel references in the English Country Dance Database and descriptions: