The annotated Joe Taylor's

One of the eCeilidh favourites, a step hop with the opportunity for loads of movement.

The Dance ...

It's a square set, that means four couples. One with their backs to the band, one facing it, looking at each other. There are two couples looking across the room, looking at each other.

When you are in a square set, the caller will give the couples different names.

You'll hear "First Couple" for the one with their backs to the band, "Second Couple" for the couple on their right, "Third Couple" for the couple facing the band and "Fourth Couple" for the one facing the second.

You'll also hear "Head Couples" when there's a move for the First and Third couple together and "Side Couples" when the caller is talking to the Second and Fourth couple.

It is the same setup as The New Mrs Arrowsmith but Joe Taylor's is "more traditional" in the sense that the couples get numbers and each couple has their go at "doing the dance". The couple with their backs to the band are "first couple", they are the ones that get to try out the dance first, the other couples need to watch what's happening as they get to do it the second, third and fourth time through.

The music is a hornpipe, it will tempt you to step hop or dance a one, two, three hop through the dance.

As always, the moves are described for 'Men' and 'Women' but these are just labels. Don't expect the men to necessarily be men or the women to be women.

A1: Dance Through and Weave Back

  • The First couple dances across the set, heading towards the gap between the third couple. The third couple makes sure there is a gap.
  • They cross with their partner as they go through the gap, so the "man" continues going right and the "woman" goes to the left. Weave back to place....

Breaking that "weaving back to place" down into bits...

The man is aiming to get back to place, He is going clockwise, behind the third lady, sneaking in front of the next person and dancing behind the last before crossing with his partner again to get back to place.

At the same time, the lady is doing the same thing, having gone through the gap and heading anticlockwise, behind the third man, sneaking in front of next person and behind the last and heads back to place.

There is time; it is quite slow; this is a hornpipe. You just need to get back to where you started so that the men can put their right arms out for a right hand star (without stopping)...

A2: Millwheel

A millwheel starts off like a right hand star. The men have to be awake; that's all the men...

  • Men put their right arms in and start a right hand star, halfway round they reach out with their left arm and pick up their opposite woman by putting an arm round the waist. They keep going and finish the star.
  • The men leave the woman they collected, put their left hands in and start a left hand star, they'll meet their partner halfway round, reach out and pick her up with an arm round the waist and bring her back to place.

Again, there is time; it is quite slow; this is a hornpipe. It is quite possible to step-hop into the right hand star, step-hop out to pick up the opposite woman and step-hop back into the star again.

B1: Grand Chain

The Grand Chain is a "Dance round the circle giving right and left hands to the people coming the other way". You will meet your partner half way round; you'll meet them again when you are back where you started.

The edict is "Don't Turn Round"

If you started going clockwise, continue going clockwise. If you started going anticlockwise, continue going anticlockwise.

Even when hopelessly lost and uncertain, Don't Turn Round.

  • Face your partner, give them your right hand...
  • Pull past and you'll see the next person heading towards you, give them your left hand and gently pull past...
  • If all has gone well, you'll be on the opposite side of the set and you'll see your partner heading towards you, give them your right hand and pull past...
  • You'll see the next person heading towards you, give them your left hand and pull past...
  • You should be heading back to place and see your partner heading towards you, get ready for a swing...

Take time! You have time to look at your partner and give them your right hand at the beginning of the move. You will be in your original positions. At the end of the move, you will be back again to these positions. If you get lost, that's where to get back to.

There are dances where you have time for a swing with your partner when you meet them half way round in the Grand Chain, it very much depends on the dance, the music and the caller. The caller will say whether to or not, that's their job.

Everyone in their set meets their partner at the same time, means everyone swings at the same time.

When finishing the swing, continue going the same way round the set as you were. The edict still applies...

Don't worry. You'll normally meet people of the opposite sex coming towards you, if that doesn't happen, keep going. You normally give your right hand to the person you are passing, then left to the next, then right, then left. If that doesn't happen, no problem, keep going...

B2: Head Couples Cross, Side Couples Cross

This move where the head couples and side couple both do a Right and Left Though, the head couples going first and the sides waiting a moment to let them get across.

  • Head couples dance across the set - pulling gently past with their right hands, give their partner their left hands and swap places.
  • Side couples do the same, dance across the set, pulling past with their right hands and swapping places with their partner.
  • Head couples dance back, pulling past with their left and swapping places to get back to where they started.
  • Side couples do the same, dance back and swap places.

This has been described as what motorcycle display teams do... Think that the timing is a "step, hop, step, hop' to get across and a "step, hop, step, hop" to change places with your partner. You are actually moving all the time, in a way that the description above does not convey.

Start again

Start again with the Second Couple doing the Dance Through and Weave Back, means that they finish their Right and Left Through, swap back to their places and head immediately off back across the set aiming for a gap between the Fourth Couple. Third time through, the Third Couple starts; the Fourth Time, the Fourth.


You may find yourself in a set when the "men" think it's nice to twirl the "women" in the Grand Chain. Each woman. Every time. This seldom works. It seldom works as the woman is twirled left one time, right the next, left the next and right the next. It's tricky to do this and keep up with the music and indeed end the twirl facing the right way.

The "men" doing the twirling should try being twirled once or twice.

Kinder, Gentler version...

There is however a "choreographed version" possible. "Choreographed" meaning it's probably not something that you can do in the dance with people you don't know or haven't planned out that you want to try it before you start.

In this version you "twirl" every other person coming towards you and when you are not twirling you are being twirled.

It starts with the "women" twirling the "men" in the head couples. At the same time, the "men" twirl the "women" in the side couples. You have the same pattern of moving round the circle, never changing direction, so you carry on. If you've been twirled, you twirl the next person, if you've just twirled someone, you let the next person twirl you. This is nice for three reasons:

  • You'll find you only have to twirl one direction.
  • The "being twirled" happens half as often, you can see where you are going and it is not so much of a disorientating rush.
  • Both the "men" and the "women" have the opportunity to twirl and be twirled...

See also...