A quadrille living on in the eCeilidh Repertoire; head and side couples crossing back and forth in fast and furious arches. If it's a quadrille, does that mean it's complicated? The answer is, it would not be popular as an eCeilidh dance if it was too tricky. It's quite possible to get it wrong, put it right and it not matter. It was first published around 1847, the arching over and back appearing around 1948.
It's a square set of four couples. One will have their backs to the band, they are the "first couple"; there'll be one standing to their right, looking across the set, they are the "second couple"; one standing opposite, facing the "first couple" and the last one facing the "second couple". Giving them labels counting anticlockwise round the set; they are the "first, "second", "third" and "fourth" couple.
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's long; 64 bars with the 32 bar tune repeated. You'll see phrases marked 'A1', 'A2', 'B1', 'B2', 'A3', 'A4', 'B3' and 'B4' instead of 'A1', 'A2', 'B1' and 'B2'
Face your partner, but it's not them you are going to be dancing with first. Take a step past them, passing left shoulders, and there'll be someone heading towards you. Kick balance⬀ and swing them.
Head back to your original position, you'll now be dancing with your partner, Kick balance and swing⬀ with them. Means everybody is swinging...
The "First Couple" keep on swinging. The music will be fast, you've got the opportunity to fly...
Note that it won't be the first couple doing it every time through the dance, the music will be played 4 or 6 times and it will be different couples taking their turn at doing the "long swing".
Stop swinging, it's quite OK to feel a little dizzy and wobbly, it means you've been doing it properly.
Step towards the second couple, don't fall over, bow; towards the third couple, bow; toward the fourth couple, bow.
This is where the dance shines; fast and furious arches⬀, done with a snap to the music
The first time through the dance, the "Head Couples" start... First time through the "head couples" start and "first couples" arch first, the second time, the "side couples" start and the "second couples" arch, the third time the "head couples" start again and the "third couple" arches and so on...
Swap places with your partner and head back the other way in one move? The question is the momentum; how to be in the right place and going the right direction at the end of the cross over, after you have arched over the couple or ducked under them. See the note about the arches further down in the description. Each couple has danced across holding hands, they lift their arm to make an arch. The man steps round into his partner's place (he's turning clockwise, half way round to face the other way). The lady turns anticlockwise under the arch and steps into her partner's place. This is called a California Twirl.
Cross back again...
Keep going! All cross over again, cross back again...
Circle Left for 16 steps (that is, keep on circling left, don't be tempted to circle left and back).
The second time through the dance, the second couple do the long swing. The time after that, the third couple, etc. It can be that the caller tells both the "first" and "third" couples to swing and then the "second" and "fourth".
Colin Hume has more notes put together as part of his 'Connections' workshop
The dance appeared in the first book of the Community Dances Manual in 1949, but in a slightly simplified form with no mention of arches.
There's some extra subtlety possible with the arching across and back. Consider this is a bit of extra polish, nice if you can do it as it gives a bit is extra fun and swing to the dance, but not anything to worry about. If you are used to turning slightly towards, slightly away, towards and away from your partner when promenading (or arching or ducking) the question is whether you start the move with turning towards each other or turning away. The trick is to work out what you want to be doing at the end of the move, and in general that is to be turning towards each other.
It might feel strange but the implication is to start turning away, but then turning towards each other (which is helpful for the couple ducking underneath the arch and indeed for the couple stretching to give the ducking couple room). It's then a turn away as you get over to the other side with a final 'turn towards' which is the lead in to the California Twirl
La Russe has its own tune