The annotated Sloe Schottische

A longways dance to slinky schottisches

The caller will say Longways and, when enough people have formed up, most likely a Hands Four from the Top, then after a little delay as people work out where they are, First Couples Improper. Improper means that despite the men initially lining up on one side and the ladies on the other, there'll be a change and the first couple should swap places with each other. Yes, it's jargon... If you've danced the Holmfirth Reel, you'll have met this

The rhythm:A Schottische

The music will be a schottische and have that distinct rhythm; if you've done any French schottisches or the Ideal you'll recognise it. Your feet will be able to do a one-and-a-two-hop, one-and-a-two-hop followed by a hop, hop, hop, hop. This is a longways and not a couple dance though.

The Dance ...

The music has an A part and a B part and there are three moves in the dance.

A1: Dance Up, Ones turn the Twos with a twirl...

Second couples move up between the first couples, making a line of four facing the band.

  • Dance up towards the band with a schottische step; that one-and-a-two-hop right and a one-and-a-two-hop left. This gives a hint of a diagonal movement right and left as you dance up
  • The ones raise arms and twos turn underneath; it's a twirl, or rather half of one. You are both turning halfway to face away from the band with a move into each others place. The twos do the half a twirl in time with the hops of the schottische.
  • You might find that, if the music gives you time, you can fit in one and a half twirls

You are changing places and facing back the way you came, this is a California Twirl except that the first lady is lifting her arm for the second man to turn underneath (because the dance is improper) and the first man is lifting his arm for the second lady.

It's a bit unusual for the lady as she doesn't normally have to twirl a man, and also a bit unusual for the man as he has to twirl with the left hand (and it's always worth remembering that people can be dancing different roles)

... Dance Down, Twirl again

You are now all in a line facing away from the band and...

  • Schottische step down (with that hint of a diagonal movement right and left)
  • The ones raise their arms again for the twos to turn, with a twirl, underneath

End up facing across the set, with the ones making sure that the twos are facing the right way, ready to head off into...

A2: Second Couple Figure of Eight

This means that the first couple don't move, it's the second couple (who have just finished their twirling) who heads up between them, crossing over the set with the man allowing the lady to get through the gap first.

The figure of eight bit is that ...

  • The second lady heads up diagonally between the first couple, over to the other side of the set and turns left behind the first lady; the second man, with a faint pause to allow his partner to get through the gap, also heads through it and turns right beind the first man. It's a bit like a motorcycle display team...

The music will give you something to hop to halfway through, make the most of it for a spin.

  • Twos head back to their original side but don't go fully back to place, ending up above the first couple. You are not going to get there too early as you can use the hops for another spin.

End up facing across....

B: Four Changes

Four Changes of a circular hey is when you dance along the sides of a square, starting by giving your right hand to your partner Heys are normally danced without giving hands, you pass each other right shoulder, left shoulder etc. However Four Changes are often danced giving hands as it helps to show who to dance with. As the Sloe Schottische is improper you'll find that the men are dancing clockwise round the square and the ladies anticlockwise.

... And there's the whole B music for this so it can be done at half speed. What this means is:

  • Face your partner and give right hands, pull slightly so you step towards each other, step apart, pull again to change places.

You've done one side of a square and there are four sides to be done... The first side was across the set the next is 'up and down'. You are still dancing in the same group of 4 people so if you are ones you have to remember that the twos are above you (closer to the band) and you turn up to look for them. The twos should be turning to face you and both of you should have your left hands ready...

  • Give left hands along the line, pull together, step apart, change places...

You've done the second side of a square and you are facing your partner again.

  • Give right hands, pull together, step apart etc...

The last move is up and down the set again, with the ones turning away from the band and the twos facing it...

  • Give left hands, pull together etc, etc...

At the end of this the second couple continues moving towards the band into the next line. The ones are facing down conveniently able to see the twos coming and grab their hands ready for the Dance Up...

Don't Panic If you are at the end of the set...

If you've got to the end of the set and are ready to join a new line of four - and nobody is there?

Don't panic, it's one of those things that happen in longways dances.

There will be one time through the dance where you'll be watching and then someone will head towards you... and you continue, but with a bit of magic; if you had been a first couple dancing down the set, you will start dancing as a second couple and as the dance is improper you have to change sides with your partner.

Vice versa, the couple who had reached the top of the set, having danced as a second couple all the way up, change sides, watch and start dancing as a 'first couple' and dance down the set.

More information: Origins...

The dance is based on the Pin Drop Schottische posted by Gareth Kiddier to the eCeilidh Mailing list in November 2012. This was written for the 48-bar Will Atkinson's Schottische.

The Sloe Schottische is a trimmed down and rearranged version for 32-bar tunes,,,

Tunes...

It can be danced to The Sloe but find someone who plays it with swing. (You are most likely to find people playing it as a four-square Polka which is a lot less fun)

Works best with a slinky, slow schottische, something like the Ran Tan Band's The Big Cheese or Chalktown's Groove Tune, or if you wish for something at stately, Jane Austin, speeds Never see the one / Respectful Hornpipe