The annotated Waves of Tory

A five couple dance that includes making arches, having people duck under them, ducking under the arch heading towards you and quick turns when you get to the end of the set so you can duck under the next arch.

This version is the one you are likely to find at English Ceilidhs. It's the version more or less that appears in the Community Dances Manual.

See below for references to where the dance came from.

The Dance

You need a partner and find your way onto the dancefloor and join a set that is forming up. You need five couples in the set, if you don't have five, wave energetically so that people can join you. If you have got your five, stop waving.

Needs a 48 bar tune, played as AABBAB.

A1: Lines forward, back and Right Hand Star....

  • Join hands in lines, dance towards each other and back again
  • Top four people dance a Right Hand Star, the next four dance a Right Hand Star, the bottom couple do a Right Hand turn

It can come as a surprise to the bottom couple that they don't have anyone to do a star with. That's OK, that's how the dance is... Although not always, you might meet the dance with a forward, back, arches and cross over

A2: Forward, back and Left Hand Star....

  • In lines again, dance towards each other and back again
  • Top four people dance a Left Hand Star, the next four dance a Left Hand Star, the bottom couple do a Left Hand turn

B1: Top couple, gallop down and back....

Can be simple, can be fancy.

  • Top couple, gallop, dance or whatever down the set and back up again.

B2: Cast to the bottom, arch and everyone dance through...

At the end of the move the top couple is at the bottom, having made the arch. All the other couples have "moved up" one place.

  • Top couple cast out and head to the bottom of the set with everybody following.
  • They form an arch at bottom. Everyone following pass through underneath.

A3 and B3: Dip and Dive...

The dip and dive can start at the top or bottom of the set. Here, the couple who have just got to the top start the dipping and diving, which according to the Contrafusion discussion is Pete Grasby's variation. The Community Dances Manual has the bottom couple starting

People who have done ballroom, be aware that dipping here means no more than ducking under an arch; it is not a couple dance move, not an embellishment.

Everyone take inside hands with their partner and there's a new couple at the top.

This couple turns to face back down the set. The turn can be a California Turn so that they swap sides while doing it.

Looking down the set, they see all four of the other couples facing them. The plan is to duck under an arch made by the couple they are facing (the second couple), make an arch over the third couple, duck under the fourth couple's arch and make an arch over the last.

When they've got to the bottom of the set they turn to face back up (a California Turn to change sides again) and do the same patterns of dips and dives to get back to the top.

Except ...

... except that everyone should be doing it

That means, if you are the second couple you see the top couple turning and ducking to go under your arch, don't stand still. Make the arch, step apart to give them space. Dance forward, do a California Turn yourself and duck to go under the arch made by the third couple. It's the same pattern of under, over, under and over.

The third couple sees the top couple ducking under the second and heading towards them, raising their arms to make an arch. Duck under it...

The fourth and fifth couples follow what's happening and join in when the top couple gets to them.

... and so it goes on. Each couple dips and dives up to the top of the set, turns and come back down, turns again and continue until they get back to where they started. It's tempting to get carried away and forget to stop. Remember where you started and swing when you get back there...

Having 5 couples means that everybody ducks when they are at the end of the set; whether they are at the top or bottom...


When you get back to place, swing if there's time... The top couple started first, so they'll get back to place first and will have the longest swing.

Then get back into two lines ready to go forward and back

Variations: More than one way of doing it...

There seem to be loads of ways of dancing this dance, Irish sources have even numbers of couples. In England, you are probably going to meet the five couple version similar to that given in the EFDSS's Community Dances Manual

Arches and Cross Over?

There's a good chance that you'll meet a variation where, instead of the Right Hand and Left Hand stars, you make arches and cross over instead. And you repeat the forward, back, arches and cross over to get back to your original side.

This makes it the same move as The Bridge of Athlone and avoids the awkwardness of having to remember if you should do a Right Hand Star, Left Hand Star, Right Hand Turn or Left Hand Turn.

A dip and a dive?

If the mental images for dips and dives both involve swimming under water, then the description is rightly confusing. You can however think of the dip as being under water and coming up to the surface for breath and the dive being that graceful leap out over the surface as you jump in...

Make the most of the dip and dive, it's fun. A good trick to remember is that as:

  • The working couple starts by ducking, stepping together, everyone else starts by stepping apart.

For that to work everybody needs to start standing close together, almost shoulder to shoulder, ready for the first step out. Everybody steps apart together and the working couple ducks though, everybody steps together and the working couple makes the arch...

Keep it crisp, the music will be clear. Dance even if you are waiting for the working couple to get down to you; apart, together, apart, together. Keep the rhythm. The working couple will see where and when the gaps appear for them.

Community Dances Version

Listen to the caller, they'll make it clear whether they want the top or bottom couple to start the dip and dive.

The Community Dances Manual has the working couple, at the bottom of the set, start the dip and dive.

This means the working couple face up, everyone else faces down. The last couple to come through the arch need to remember to turn, face down, join hands and get ready to arch.

The bottom couple starts by ducking under that arch, over the next couple, under the next, over the last and at the top they do the California Turn and head back down again. The pattern is as above, the only difference is that the bottom couple start instead of the top couple.

More information: Origins...

Appeared in the Dances of Donegal collected by Grace Orpen, 1931 (on the Irish Traditional Music Archive site) as:

  • Longways for any equal number of couples

The Community Dances Manual (Book 1, 1949) gives a five couple dance and describes it as:

  • An American version of a dance of Irish origin

The Contrafusion site has a copy of the English Dance and Song discussion from 1955.

See also...