A crazy dance that includes a Strip the Willow that you dance in a square. Loads of room for movement and confusion.
It's a square set, four couples arranged with one with their back to the band and one facing them (they are the head couples) and couples looking across the room (they are the side couples).
You need to look round the set to see who you'll be dancing with. If you've danced Drops of Brandy or the Orcadian Strip the Willow, you will know the mantra:
It will be a bit different in a square, you'll be dancing with the person directly opposite you and the four people of the opposite sex around the square. The person on the left of the couple is considered "the man", and the person on the right considered "the lady". If these are not your actual genders, be prepared to be confident if someone looks confused when they head towards you. The mantra becomes:
And as everybody will have their turn stripping, everybody should look round and see who they'll be dancing with....
You are dancing opposite another couple, look to see who is dancing the "man's role" opposite. You'll start by giving that person your right arm when you Strip the Willow in the square.
If you've got that sorted, look round the set, starting with the couple on your right. Look to see who is dancing the "woman's role" there. Look opposite, see who is dancing the "woman's role". Look to your left, see who is dancing the "woman's role". Look at your partner. You'll be giving each of these people, in turn, your left arm when you dance round.
You dance turning "right arm", "left arm", "right arm", "left arm" alternately, like with the normal Strip the Willow, but with the pattern that you "right arm turn" your opposite every time and for each "left hand turn" you move one quarter of the way round the set.
It isn't so different, look across the set to "your opposite", you'll be dancing right arms with them. Look round the set for the people dancing the "men's role", you'll be dancing with each of them, starting with the couple to your right, with your left arm. Right arm with your opposite, left with the next... Until you finally get to your partner...
Most likely you'll meet the dance which has 'three parts'; Gallops, the Strip the Willow Square and a circle round and promenade back.
Head couples, take each other in a ballroom hold, watch what the opposite couple is doing and gallop across the set without hitting them. The traditional way of not hitting someone when you gallop across is for the two "men" to aim to pass back to back when you go across and the two "ladies" to go back to back on the way back. If this gets boring, one couple can make an arch and the other go underneath and the reverse on the way back.
Turn and gallop back, or just turn your head and gallop back... Getting out the way of the side couples...
The side couples do the same...
The "head men" get to dance first, that's the "first" and "third man". They need to remember "that mantra":
and the sequence of people they looked at when they were standing in the square. The other two men don't do anything apart from watch what's happening and keep out the way. Given that the people Stripping the Square are probably going to be confused about whom they should be dancing with, the people on the sides, waiting for the dancer to arrive, should make it as obvious as possible that they are the ones he/she should be heading towards
The head men head into the middle of the set and turn with their right arm.
There are many ways of describing this but imagine you are looking across the set at a man at 12 o'clock, you give him your right arm and dance round until you see a lady at about 3 o'clock. Ideally she should be holding out her left arm, you give her your left arm and turn. You may hear the caller say Right Hand Turn Three Quarters. If this is confusing, think that this means Do a right hand turn until you see the person at 3 o'clock Each time you head across the set with your right arm out, think you'll be turning a new person at 3 o'clock with your left arm
The sequence, when written out "in full" for the head men, is:
The first time through the dance, it will be the "head men" stripping the square, the second time it will be the "side men", the third time it will be the "head ladies", the fourth time it will be the "side ladies" There'll probably be a "fifth time" where all four men strip the square at the same time and a "sixth time" where all four women do it...
A gentle move in comparision to the previous chaos, the dance includes it to allow you to catch up. Note, there are 'shorter' versions of the dance that ignore the circle, balance and swing...
Kick balance or shuffle towards each other and apart, depending on energy and music. Swing until the music says it's time for a gallop. Note, if the head couples have just galloped, it's the side couples turn (and vice versa).
Written by Eddie Upton 
Most likely you'll meet the dance which has 'three parts', that takes a 48 bar tune. There is a shorter variation that skips the circle and promenade that fits a 32 bar tune.
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