The annotated Salty Dog Rag

Salty Dog Rag came over from the States and became a popular, if challenging, couple dance in the eCeilidh repertoire in the 1980's. If you had a slinky schottische played, you danced a Salty Dog....

The Dance...

It's a couple dance, there'll be two of you, side by side, facing anticlockwise round the room. In the side by side, you have "right hand holding right hand" and "left hand holding left hand". Skaters do this when skating as couples - at least in the pictures...

The music is a schottische and the rhythm is shown emphasised woven into the descriptions of the moves. The dance is right footed, meaning the moves start on the right; you'll be doing a Right Left Right Hop, Left Right Left Hop. Right Hop, Left Hop, Right Hop, Left Hop and so on to the rhythm...

A1:Travelling...

Facing round the room, in that skaters hold ...

  • Do a schottische step diagonally out to the right, one-and-a-two-and...
  • ... a schottische step diagonally out to the left, one-and-a-two-and...
  • ... four schottische step-hops, one-and-two-and-three-and-four, still moving forward

and the same again

B1:Chorus...

There are variations here, or maybe better described that the Folk Process has got involved and people have found their own ways of fitting a move to the music. Following the original notation...

Face your partner, hold left hands: Face your partner? The man has the easy job, he keeps on facing the way he'd been dancing. The woman faces him. There is going to be a move "out sideways" and orientating yourself this way, particularly in a small room or with many people, reduces the chance of collisions.

  • Dance a schottische step sideways out to your own right, one-and-a-two-hop, not letting go of your left hands...
    ... This means you are stretching your arms, no problem.
  • On the second schottische step, pull on those left hands, you want to get back to place...
    ... And you do it with a spin. Rather than a simple schottische step back, each person crosses back with a snappy 360 degree anticlockwise spin, one-and-a-two-hop, with a clap on the final hop. This means you drop hands after the initial "tug", also you make sure you do that spin in front of your partner and catch your partner's right hand at the end...
  • Dance the four step hops as a right hand turn round each other...

Face each other again and repeat... The move can be seen as a snippet here.

A2:In Place...

Back in skater's hold, facing round the room, but not moving, for a showy bit...

  • A Heel/Toe with the right foot, one-and-a..., Heel/Toe with the left ...two-and...
    ... making sure that you have your weight on the balls of both feet at the end of the move
  • Lift up on your toes a bit and open your heels to the back, one-and-a... If this makes you look slightly knock-kneed, you are doing it right...
    ... back down on your heels then a Heel/Toe with your right foot - with a flourish of kicking your right heel back up past your left shin, ...two-AND.... You should feel this "hitch" lifting your whole body.
  • ... four schottische step-hops, one-and-two-and-three-and-four...

and the same again

B2: Chorus..

Turn to face each other and repeat the chorus ...

... and then start again with the travelling.

More information: Origins...

The Library of Dance describes the evolution of the dance in the States, from the Skaters Schottische, via The Ostende, the Castle Schottische to the Salty Dog Rag.

The Folk Process...

The Salty Dog Rag appeared in the UK around 1984 (Albion Band/Albionettes) and arrived in the eCeilidh repertoire as the dance to dance to to the Ran Tan Band's Big Cheese.

Somewhere along the line, a simplified version of the chorus developed with right hands instead of left and without the spin. Turn to face each other...

  • Pull past with your right hand and cast left (anticlockwise, one-and-a-two-and... with a clap on the hop). Turn back towards your partner, head back with a one-and-a-two-and..., and...
  • ... Join right hands and circle to get back to place with four schottische step-hops, one-and-two-and-three-and-four.... Waving your left hands in the air in a sort-of-twenties style.

Move slightly away from each other and do the same again, pulling past with your right...

Tunes...

The Salty Dog Rag tune in ABC notation

See also...