The Regular Reels

There are a number of widely danced "staples" which appear on dance cards the length and breadth of the country. At PGT, we teach and dance all of these - though we throw in the occasional rare reel to keep us all on our toes!

Dashing White Sergeant

“The one in threes”

 

Always danced at the beginning of the evening, in groups of threes (M-F-M or F-M-F). You will be opposite another three at all times, with the entire group forming two intertwined circles moving clockwise and anti-clockwise respectively - making it a great way of saying hello to any pals present. You can join at any time.

 

8 Join hands and circle to the left

8 Circle to the right

4 Middle person, set to the right person.

4 Turn (crossed wrists)

4 Middle person, set to the left person

4 Turn (crossed wrists)

16 Figure of eight

4 Step forward, stamp

4 Step back, Clap

8 One three forms an arch, the other goes underneath. Greet next three and continue.

 

Eightsome Reel

“The one in a circle”

 

One of the oldest dances on our card and danced in a square set, this reel is a combination of the old quadrilles and Highland dances. One of the crown jewels of reeling - quite literally, as it was allegedly Queen Victoria's favourite! - it is nevertheless a very simple dance to learn. For the more adventurous, this can be danced as a doubles, sixteensome, thirtytwosome, sixtyfoursome and even a 128-some!

 

8 - Join hands and circle left

8 - Circle right

8 - Ladies put right hands in, gentlemen put right hands around their waist. Move round clockwise (Teapot right)

8 - Gentlemen swing round and put their left arm in. Move round anti-clockwise (Teapot left)

8 - All set to partner twice

8 - Turn partner

16 - Take partner with the right hand and pull across. Put left hand out and take hand of the next person and repeat until you return to where you started (Grand Chain).

 

16 - Lady number 1 goes in the middle. All others circle round and back.

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 1

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 3 (opposite)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

16 - Figure of Eight

16 - Lady number 1 goes in the middle. All others circle round and back.

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 4 (holding hand of partner)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 2 (opposite)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

16 - Figure of Eight

***Repeat for all ladies in order, then all gentlemen in order. The setting order is always partner and opposite, person holding hand with partner and opposite***

 

8 - Join hands and circle left

8 - Circle right

8 - Ladies put right hands in, gentlemen put right hands around their waist. Move round clockwise (Teapot right)

8 - Gentlemen swing round and put their left arm in. Move round anti-clockwise (Teapot left)

8 - All set to partner twice

8 - Turn partner

16 - Take partner with the right hand and pull across. Put left hand out and take hand of the next person and repeat until you return to where you started (Grand Chain).

 

Foursome Reel

“The one with helicopters”

 

This dance is unique in several ways, but it may well be the only time you ever dance in ‘strathspey’ time. It is always done after the eightsome, with the same partners. This is precisely half the speed of normal ‘reel’ time and allows for more refined, precise movement. The dance includes a ‘helicopter’ - not for the faint hearted!

 

Many find it helpful to remember the pneumonic OPO H PLOMP (Opposite, partners, opposite, Helicopters, Partners, Ladies, Opposites, Men, Partners.

 

Strathspey time

 

32 Ladies leading, reel of four. Ladies cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to OPPOSITES

32 Reel of four. Ladies and gentlemen cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to PARTNERS

32 Reel of four. Ladies and gentlemen cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to OPPOSITES

 

Reel time

 

16 Helicopter. Men face each other, ladies put their arms on top of shoulders.

 

16 Face PARTNERS. Set.

16 Tulloch turn. Swap after 8

16 LADIES in middle. Tulloch turn.

16 Face OPPOSITES. Set.

16 MEN in middle. Set and turn with interlocking elbows

16 Face PARTNERS. Set.

16 Tulloch turn. Swap after 8

 

Hamilton House

“Flirt, divert”

 

There is a fun story about a rather promiscuous Duchess of Hamilton who would flirt with one man before moving on to a third, ignoring the Duke throughout. Some say the dance is based on this, though others say it refers to the unique remainder of the Earldom of Selkirk, or indeed even the famous Emma, Lady Hamilton (more commonly known as Nelson's mistress!). Whatever its origins, the dance is often referred to as ‘flirt divert’ and is very flirty indeed.

 

4 Lady 1 sets to Man 2

4 Lady 1 is turned by Man 3 and goes behind to stand between Couple 2.

4 Man 1 sets to Lady 2

4 Man 1 turns Lady 3 and goes between Couple 3

8 Lady 1 & Couple 2 and Man 1 & Couple 3 join hands and set twice

8 Couple 1 turn in the middle, Man 1 placing Lady 1 on the Mens’ side. He will go between ladies

8 Man 2, Lady 1, Man 3 and Lady 2, Man 1, Lady 3 join hands down the set and set twice

8 Couple 1 turn in the middle, Man 1 placing Lady one back on the Ladies side

16 Circle round and back

 

Duke of Perth

“The one with all the corners”

 

A real purist’s favourite! This is a wonderful, fast dance that works perfectly when one gets the timing just right.

 

8 Couple 1 turn

4 Couple 1 cast down 1 place

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 turn first corners Right elbow

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 turn second corners Right elbow

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 set to first corners

4 Couple 1 turn first corners

4 Couple 1 set to second corners

4 Couple 1 turn second corners

16 Figure of eight on opposite side

 

NB the reel continues with the dancing couple starting on the opposite side and turning 1 ½ times to get back to their own side

 

Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh

“Bollards and teapots”

 

Written as a wedding dance for HRH The Princess Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. There is an apocryphal story that the Duke, while an excellent dancer, hates setting - so this dance contains none at all!

There is a ‘weaving’ figure of eight in this dance - it is identical to a figure of eight but without the other dancers moving. It is also called ‘bollards’.

4 All advance, stamp feet

4 All retreat, clap

8 Everyone turn partner

16 Weaving figure of eight

8 Lady 1 with Couple 2, Man 1 with Couple 3, Right hand teapot

8 Lady 1 with Couple 3, Man 1 with Couple 2, Left hand teapot

4 Couple 1 RH swing first corners

4 Couple 1 LH swing middle

4 Couple 1 RH swing second corner

4 Couple 1 turn and place Lady 1 on Ladies side

16 Circle round and back

 

Mairi’s Wedding

“The one with the crossing clover leaf”

⌘ 

 

A beautiful dance, written in the 1959 to give expression to an old Gaelic song. Beautiful when done well but requires everyone to be on point! The dance is quite complicated; the shape that the dancing couple follows is a clover leaf or, for the technologically minded, the Apple command key. The dancing couple will always be crossing someone of the opposite sex.

8 Couple 1 turn

4 Cast down one place

4 Turn Left Arm

4 Face first corners and cross right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

4 Cross second corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

4 Cross third corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

4 Cross fourth corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

16 Figure of Eight, Lady 1 on top, Man 1 on bottom

16 Circle round and back

 

Inverness Country Dance

“The running one

 

Truly one of the finest dances on the card. Numbered Aberdonian (1,2,1,2) it is all about long sets and you get a tremendous amount of dancing in. It’s a sight to behold to see a hundred people running down a dance floor! Everyone is involved all the time so it isn’t a dance for wallflowers!

 

To keep the flow of the dance going, after the final turn, keep hold of your partner's right hand and go straight into the next teapot.

 

8 Couple 1 and 2 Teapot Right

8 Couple 1 and 2 Teapot Left

8 Couples 1 and 2 join hands (right to right) and dance down the room

8 Couple 1 form arches, Couple 2 go underneath and continue to dance up the room

4 Couple 1 set to first corner

4 Turn

4 Couple 1 set to second corner

4 Turn

8 Couple 1 go to middle of the set, Lady facing down, Man facing up. Set twice

8 Turn straight into next teapot

 

Kandahar Reel

“Chinooks and Black Hawks”

 

The newest dance on our programme. Written by Andy and Rob Colquhoun while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the Black Watch regiment. PGT were lucky enough to have Andy come and teach us the dance in May 2018 and we are one of the few places where you can learn this wonderful dance.

 

The dance replicates the assembling of a team, entering a chinook, a casualty evacuation in a black hawk and a return to base in a chinook. This very special dance is largely danced at 1 ½ speed to replicate the 150% our soldiers, sailors and airmen are asked to give for their country. In a small way, it is a memorial to the long years the British Army spent in Afghanistan.

 

More details about the dance can be found in this excellent Scotsman article.

 

4 Set

4 Turn 1 ½ Times Crossed

8 Lady 1 set to Man 2; Man 1 set to Lady 2; both turn Crossed Wrist. Couples 3 and 4 face up the set.

16 Couples 1 and 2 chain- Couple 1 to end up below Couple 4. Couple 2 to end up between Couple 3 and 4.

8 Right hand teapots 1 ½ times Couple 3 & 2 and Couple 4 & 1

8 Left Hand Teapot 1 ½ times Couple 3 & 1

8 Right Hand Teapot Couple 2 & 1 and Couple 3 & 4

4 All Set

4 Couples 1 and 4 cast off one place. Couples 2 and 3 turn 1 ½ times, casting up.

 

The dancing couple will join hands and run down the set when they have finished dancing

 

Postie’s Jig

“The one with the posts”

 

This dance is fairly modern, and based on an Andy Stewart song, Lassie Come And Dance With Me.

 

The dance can only be danced as four couple sets and both couples 1 and 4 start. Remember that in the arches, Gentlemen go over Ladies and your arms go UP as you go UP the set, DOWN when going DOWN the set.

 

The chain can throw many people off - it is simple if you always turn inwards. Right hand will always be with opposite sex, left hand with the same sex.

 

4 Couples 1 and 4 set

4 Couples 1 and 4 cast down

8 Couples 1 and 4 cast diagonally and down (around opposite sex)

4 Men form arches, ladies go underneath

4 Swing closest corner

4 Couples form arches, Couple going UP the set put arms UP

4 Swing closest corner

4 Men form arches, ladies go underneath

4 Swing closest corner

4 Couples form arches, Couple going UP the set put arms UP

4 Swing closest corner

4 Chain Right Hand with partner

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

8 Turn partner. 1s will now be in position 3, 4s in position 2

 

Machine Without Horses

“The one with the chain”

 

A dance that isn’t danced as often as it ought to be. It is quite simple but, because it isn’t on the dance card at every ball, has been neglected over time.

 

The key to this, like Postie’s Jig, is the chain. As long as you can nail that, the dance is fine! Remember: it is simple if you always turn in. Right hand will always be with opposite sex, left hand with the same sex. Also like Postie’s Jig, the dance must be danced in 4s.

 

4 Set

4 Cast down one place

8 Right hand teapot with Couple 3

4 Set

4 Cast up

8 Left Hand teapot with Couple 2

4 Couples 1 and 2 join hands and dance down the middle of the set.

4 Cross Couple 3 and dance up the outside of the set

8 Couple 1 touch hands in middle and cast down one place (Order 2,1,3,4)

4 Chain Right Hand with partner

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

4 Chain Right Hand with other Lady

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

 

Reel of the 51st Division

“The last one”

 

Written in a Prisoner of War camp during the Second World War by Lt Jimmy Atkinson. The 51st (Highland) Division were among the last remnants of the BEF in France, before being captured in St Valery in June 1940. While interned near Salzburg, Lt Atkinson wrote a dance to keep him and his brother officers occupied. When the instructions were sent home, the Germans believed them to be code and spent the rest of the war trying to decipher them - but another version made it home to Britain and became an instant hit. 

The bouncing in the middle represents the two arms of a Saltire cross, while the circle represents the oak wreath around it on the cap badge of the division. The dance has become a firm favourite ever since it was popularised by HM Queen Elizabeth.

 

The dance is almost always danced at the end of the night, in long ‘Aberdonian’ sets (numbered 1,2,1,2). It is a favourite of many reelers, with most elaborating their setting at the top with drops, turns, games of pat-a-cake and a thousand other possibilities!


Some more information can be found here.

4 Set

4 Cast down one place

4 Present Lady 1 to Man 2

4 Set to first corners

4 Turn first corner RH only

4 Catch LH in the middle, bounce and turn to face second corners

4 Set to second corners

4 Turn second corner RH only

4 Catch LH in the middle, bounce and turn to place Lady 1 in her line

16 Circle round and back

There are a number of widely danced "staples" which appear on dance cards the length and breadth of the country. At PGT, we teach and dance all of these - though we throw in the occasional rare reel to keep us all on our toes!

Dashing White Sergeant

“The one in threes”

 

Always danced at the beginning of the evening, in groups of threes (M-F-M or F-M-F). You will be opposite another three at all times, with the entire group forming two intertwined circles moving clockwise and anti-clockwise respectively - making it a great way of saying hello to any pals present. You can join at any time.

 

8 Join hands and circle to the left

8 Circle to the right

4 Middle person, set to the right person.

4 Turn (crossed wrists)

4 Middle person, set to the left person

4 Turn (crossed wrists)

16 Figure of eight

4 Step forward, stamp

4 Step back, Clap

8 One three forms an arch, the other goes underneath. Greet next three and continue.

 

Eightsome Reel

“The one in a circle”

 

One of the oldest dances on our card and danced in a square set, this reel is a combination of the old quadrilles and Highland dances. One of the crown jewels of reeling - quite literally, as it was allegedly Queen Victoria's favourite! - it is nevertheless a very simple dance to learn. For the more adventurous, this can be danced as a doubles, sixteensome, thirtytwosome, sixtyfoursome and even a 128-some!

 

8 - Join hands and circle left

8 - Circle right

8 - Ladies put right hands in, gentlemen put right hands around their waist. Move round clockwise (Teapot right)

8 - Gentlemen swing round and put their left arm in. Move round anti-clockwise (Teapot left)

8 - All set to partner twice

8 - Turn partner

16 - Take partner with the right hand and pull across. Put left hand out and take hand of the next person and repeat until you return to where you started (Grand Chain).

 

16 - Lady number 1 goes in the middle. All others circle round and back.

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 1

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 3 (opposite)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

16 - Figure of Eight

16 - Lady number 1 goes in the middle. All others circle round and back.

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 4 (holding hand of partner)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 2 (opposite)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

16 - Figure of Eight

***Repeat for all ladies in order, then all gentlemen in order. The setting order is always partner and opposite, person holding hand with partner and opposite***

 

8 - Join hands and circle left

8 - Circle right

8 - Ladies put right hands in, gentlemen put right hands around their waist. Move round clockwise (Teapot right)

8 - Gentlemen swing round and put their left arm in. Move round anti-clockwise (Teapot left)

8 - All set to partner twice

8 - Turn partner

16 - Take partner with the right hand and pull across. Put left hand out and take hand of the next person and repeat until you return to where you started (Grand Chain).

 

Foursome Reel

“The one with helicopters”

 

This dance is unique in several ways, but it may well be the only time you ever dance in ‘strathspey’ time. It is always done after the eightsome, with the same partners. This is precisely half the speed of normal ‘reel’ time and allows for more refined, precise movement. The dance includes a ‘helicopter’ - not for the faint hearted!

 

Many find it helpful to remember the pneumonic OPO H PLOMP (Opposite, partners, opposite, Helicopters, Partners, Ladies, Opposites, Men, Partners.

 

Strathspey time

 

32 Ladies leading, reel of four. Ladies cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to OPPOSITES

32 Reel of four. Ladies and gentlemen cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to PARTNERS

32 Reel of four. Ladies and gentlemen cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to OPPOSITES

 

Reel time

 

16 Helicopter. Men face each other, ladies put their arms on top of shoulders.

 

16 Face PARTNERS. Set.

16 Tulloch turn. Swap after 8

16 LADIES in middle. Tulloch turn.

16 Face OPPOSITES. Set.

16 MEN in middle. Set and turn with interlocking elbows

16 Face PARTNERS. Set.

16 Tulloch turn. Swap after 8

 

Hamilton House

“Flirt, divert”

 

There is a fun story about a rather promiscuous Duchess of Hamilton who would flirt with one man before moving on to a third, ignoring the Duke throughout. Some say the dance is based on this, though others say it refers to the unique remainder of the Earldom of Selkirk, or indeed even the famous Emma, Lady Hamilton (more commonly known as Nelson's mistress!). Whatever its origins, the dance is often referred to as ‘flirt divert’ and is very flirty indeed.

 

4 Lady 1 sets to Man 2

4 Lady 1 is turned by Man 3 and goes behind to stand between Couple 2.

4 Man 1 sets to Lady 2

4 Man 1 turns Lady 3 and goes between Couple 3

8 Lady 1 & Couple 2 and Man 1 & Couple 3 join hands and set twice

8 Couple 1 turn in the middle, Man 1 placing Lady 1 on the Mens’ side. He will go between ladies

8 Man 2, Lady 1, Man 3 and Lady 2, Man 1, Lady 3 join hands down the set and set twice

8 Couple 1 turn in the middle, Man 1 placing Lady one back on the Ladies side

16 Circle round and back

 

Duke of Perth

“The one with all the corners”

 

A real purist’s favourite! This is a wonderful, fast dance that works perfectly when one gets the timing just right.

 

8 Couple 1 turn

4 Couple 1 cast down 1 place

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 turn first corners Right elbow

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 turn second corners Right elbow

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 set to first corners

4 Couple 1 turn first corners

4 Couple 1 set to second corners

4 Couple 1 turn second corners

16 Figure of eight on opposite side

 

NB the reel continues with the dancing couple starting on the opposite side and turning 1 ½ times to get back to their own side

 

Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh

“Bollards and teapots”

 

Written as a wedding dance for HRH The Princess Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. There is an apocryphal story that the Duke, while an excellent dancer, hates setting - so this dance contains none at all!

There is a ‘weaving’ figure of eight in this dance - it is identical to a figure of eight but without the other dancers moving. It is also called ‘bollards’.

4 All advance, stamp feet

4 All retreat, clap

8 Everyone turn partner

16 Weaving figure of eight

8 Lady 1 with Couple 2, Man 1 with Couple 3, Right hand teapot

8 Lady 1 with Couple 3, Man 1 with Couple 2, Left hand teapot

4 Couple 1 RH swing first corners

4 Couple 1 LH swing middle

4 Couple 1 RH swing second corner

4 Couple 1 turn and place Lady 1 on Ladies side

16 Circle round and back

 

Mairi’s Wedding

“The one with the crossing clover leaf”

⌘ 

 

A beautiful dance, written in the 1959 to give expression to an old Gaelic song. Beautiful when done well but requires everyone to be on point! The dance is quite complicated; the shape that the dancing couple follows is a clover leaf or, for the technologically minded, the Apple command key. The dancing couple will always be crossing someone of the opposite sex.

8 Couple 1 turn

4 Cast down one place

4 Turn Left Arm

4 Face first corners and cross right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

4 Cross second corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

4 Cross third corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

4 Cross fourth corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

16 Figure of Eight, Lady 1 on top, Man 1 on bottom

16 Circle round and back

 

Inverness Country Dance

“The running one

 

Truly one of the finest dances on the card. Numbered Aberdonian (1,2,1,2) it is all about long sets and you get a tremendous amount of dancing in. It’s a sight to behold to see a hundred people running down a dance floor! Everyone is involved all the time so it isn’t a dance for wallflowers!

 

To keep the flow of the dance going, after the final turn, keep hold of your partner's right hand and go straight into the next teapot.

 

8 Couple 1 and 2 Teapot Right

8 Couple 1 and 2 Teapot Left

8 Couples 1 and 2 join hands (right to right) and dance down the room

8 Couple 1 form arches, Couple 2 go underneath and continue to dance up the room

4 Couple 1 set to first corner

4 Turn

4 Couple 1 set to second corner

4 Turn

8 Couple 1 go to middle of the set, Lady facing down, Man facing up. Set twice

8 Turn straight into next teapot

 

Kandahar Reel

“Chinooks and Black Hawks”

 

The newest dance on our programme. Written by Andy and Rob Colquhoun while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the Black Watch regiment. PGT were lucky enough to have Andy come and teach us the dance in May 2018 and we are one of the few places where you can learn this wonderful dance.

 

The dance replicates the assembling of a team, entering a chinook, a casualty evacuation in a black hawk and a return to base in a chinook. This very special dance is largely danced at 1 ½ speed to replicate the 150% our soldiers, sailors and airmen are asked to give for their country. In a small way, it is a memorial to the long years the British Army spent in Afghanistan.

 

More details about the dance can be found in this excellent Scotsman article.

 

4 Set

4 Turn 1 ½ Times Crossed

8 Lady 1 set to Man 2; Man 1 set to Lady 2; both turn Crossed Wrist. Couples 3 and 4 face up the set.

16 Couples 1 and 2 chain- Couple 1 to end up below Couple 4. Couple 2 to end up between Couple 3 and 4.

8 Right hand teapots 1 ½ times Couple 3 & 2 and Couple 4 & 1

8 Left Hand Teapot 1 ½ times Couple 3 & 1

8 Right Hand Teapot Couple 2 & 1 and Couple 3 & 4

4 All Set

4 Couples 1 and 4 cast off one place. Couples 2 and 3 turn 1 ½ times, casting up.

 

The dancing couple will join hands and run down the set when they have finished dancing

 

Postie’s Jig

“The one with the posts”

 

This dance is fairly modern, and based on an Andy Stewart song, Lassie Come And Dance With Me.

 

The dance can only be danced as four couple sets and both couples 1 and 4 start. Remember that in the arches, Gentlemen go over Ladies and your arms go UP as you go UP the set, DOWN when going DOWN the set.

 

The chain can throw many people off - it is simple if you always turn inwards. Right hand will always be with opposite sex, left hand with the same sex.

 

4 Couples 1 and 4 set

4 Couples 1 and 4 cast down

8 Couples 1 and 4 cast diagonally and down (around opposite sex)

4 Men form arches, ladies go underneath

4 Swing closest corner

4 Couples form arches, Couple going UP the set put arms UP

4 Swing closest corner

4 Men form arches, ladies go underneath

4 Swing closest corner

4 Couples form arches, Couple going UP the set put arms UP

4 Swing closest corner

4 Chain Right Hand with partner

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

8 Turn partner. 1s will now be in position 3, 4s in position 2

 

Machine Without Horses

“The one with the chain”

 

A dance that isn’t danced as often as it ought to be. It is quite simple but, because it isn’t on the dance card at every ball, has been neglected over time.

 

The key to this, like Postie’s Jig, is the chain. As long as you can nail that, the dance is fine! Remember: it is simple if you always turn in. Right hand will always be with opposite sex, left hand with the same sex. Also like Postie’s Jig, the dance must be danced in 4s.

 

4 Set

4 Cast down one place

8 Right hand teapot with Couple 3

4 Set

4 Cast up

8 Left Hand teapot with Couple 2

4 Couples 1 and 2 join hands and dance down the middle of the set.

4 Cross Couple 3 and dance up the outside of the set

8 Couple 1 touch hands in middle and cast down one place (Order 2,1,3,4)

4 Chain Right Hand with partner

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

4 Chain Right Hand with other Lady

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

 

Reel of the 51st Division

“The last one”

 

Written in a Prisoner of War camp during the Second World War by Lt Jimmy Atkinson. The 51st (Highland) Division were among the last remnants of the BEF in France, before being captured in St Valery in June 1940. While interned near Salzburg, Lt Atkinson wrote a dance to keep him and his brother officers occupied. When the instructions were sent home, the Germans believed them to be code and spent the rest of the war trying to decipher them - but another version made it home to Britain and became an instant hit. 

The bouncing in the middle represents the two arms of a Saltire cross, while the circle represents the oak wreath around it on the cap badge of the division. The dance has become a firm favourite ever since it was popularised by HM Queen Elizabeth.

 

The dance is almost always danced at the end of the night, in long ‘Aberdonian’ sets (numbered 1,2,1,2). It is a favourite of many reelers, with most elaborating their setting at the top with drops, turns, games of pat-a-cake and a thousand other possibilities!


Some more information can be found here.

4 Set

4 Cast down one place

4 Present Lady 1 to Man 2

4 Set to first corners

4 Turn first corner RH only

4 Catch LH in the middle, bounce and turn to face second corners

4 Set to second corners

4 Turn second corner RH only

4 Catch LH in the middle, bounce and turn to place Lady 1 in her line

16 Circle round and back

There are a number of widely danced "staples" which appear on dance cards the length and breadth of the country. At PGT, we teach and dance all of these - though we throw in the occasional rare reel to keep us all on our toes!

Dashing White Sergeant

“The one in threes”

 

Always danced at the beginning of the evening, in groups of threes (M-F-M or F-M-F). You will be opposite another three at all times, with the entire group forming two intertwined circles moving clockwise and anti-clockwise respectively - making it a great way of saying hello to any pals present. You can join at any time.

 

8 Join hands and circle to the left

8 Circle to the right

4 Middle person, set to the right person.

4 Turn (crossed wrists)

4 Middle person, set to the left person

4 Turn (crossed wrists)

16 Figure of eight

4 Step forward, stamp

4 Step back, Clap

8 One three forms an arch, the other goes underneath. Greet next three and continue.

 

Eightsome Reel

“The one in a circle”

 

One of the oldest dances on our card and danced in a square set, this reel is a combination of the old quadrilles and Highland dances. One of the crown jewels of reeling - quite literally, as it was allegedly Queen Victoria's favourite! - it is nevertheless a very simple dance to learn. For the more adventurous, this can be danced as a doubles, sixteensome, thirtytwosome, sixtyfoursome and even a 128-some!

 

8 - Join hands and circle left

8 - Circle right

8 - Ladies put right hands in, gentlemen put right hands around their waist. Move round clockwise (Teapot right)

8 - Gentlemen swing round and put their left arm in. Move round anti-clockwise (Teapot left)

8 - All set to partner twice

8 - Turn partner

16 - Take partner with the right hand and pull across. Put left hand out and take hand of the next person and repeat until you return to where you started (Grand Chain).

 

16 - Lady number 1 goes in the middle. All others circle round and back.

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 1

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 3 (opposite)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

16 - Figure of Eight

16 - Lady number 1 goes in the middle. All others circle round and back.

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 4 (holding hand of partner)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

4 - Lady 1 sets to Gentleman 2 (opposite)

4 - Turn (Crossed Wrists)

16 - Figure of Eight

***Repeat for all ladies in order, then all gentlemen in order. The setting order is always partner and opposite, person holding hand with partner and opposite***

 

8 - Join hands and circle left

8 - Circle right

8 - Ladies put right hands in, gentlemen put right hands around their waist. Move round clockwise (Teapot right)

8 - Gentlemen swing round and put their left arm in. Move round anti-clockwise (Teapot left)

8 - All set to partner twice

8 - Turn partner

16 - Take partner with the right hand and pull across. Put left hand out and take hand of the next person and repeat until you return to where you started (Grand Chain).

 

 

 

Foursome Reel

“The one with helicopters”

 

This dance is unique in several ways, but it may well be the only time you ever dance in ‘strathspey’ time. It is always done after the eightsome, with the same partners. This is precisely half the speed of normal ‘reel’ time and allows for more refined, precise movement. The dance includes a ‘helicopter’ - not for the faint hearted!

 

Many find it helpful to remember the pneumonic OPO H PLOMP (Opposite, partners, opposite, Helicopters, Partners, Ladies, Opposites, Men, Partners.

 

Strathspey time

 

32 Ladies leading, reel of four. Ladies cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to OPPOSITES

32 Reel of four. Ladies and gentlemen cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to PARTNERS

32 Reel of four. Ladies and gentlemen cross each other right shoulders.

32 Ladies and Gentlemen set to OPPOSITES

 

Reel time

 

16 Helicopter. Men face each other, ladies put their arms on top of shoulders.

 

16 Face PARTNERS. Set.

16 Tulloch turn. Swap after 8

16 LADIES in middle. Tulloch turn.

16 Face OPPOSITES. Set.

16 MEN in middle. Set and turn with interlocking elbows

16 Face PARTNERS. Set.

16 Tulloch turn. Swap after 8

 

Hamilton House

“Flirt, divert”

 

There is a fun story about a rather promiscuous Duchess of Hamilton who would flirt with one man before moving on to a third, ignoring the Duke throughout. Some say the dance is based on this, though others say it refers to the unique remainder of the Earldom of Selkirk, or indeed even the famous Emma, Lady Hamilton (more commonly known as Nelson's mistress!). Whatever its origins, the dance is often referred to as ‘flirt divert’ and is very flirty indeed.

 

4 Lady 1 sets to Man 2

4 Lady 1 is turned by Man 3 and goes behind to stand between Couple 2.

4 Man 1 sets to Lady 2

4 Man 1 turns Lady 3 and goes between Couple 3

8 Lady 1 & Couple 2 and Man 1 & Couple 3 join hands and set twice

8 Couple 1 turn in the middle, Man 1 placing Lady 1 on the Mens’ side. He will go between ladies

8 Man 2, Lady 1, Man 3 and Lady 2, Man 1, Lady 3 join hands down the set and set twice

8 Couple 1 turn in the middle, Man 1 placing Lady one back on the Ladies side

16 Circle round and back

 

Duke of Perth

“The one with all the corners”

 

A real purist’s favourite! This is a wonderful, fast dance that works perfectly when one gets the timing just right.

 

8 Couple 1 turn

4 Couple 1 cast down 1 place

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 turn first corners Right elbow

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 turn second corners Right elbow

4 Couple 1 turn Left elbow in middle

4 Couple 1 set to first corners

4 Couple 1 turn first corners

4 Couple 1 set to second corners

4 Couple 1 turn second corners

16 Figure of eight on opposite side

 

NB the reel continues with the dancing couple starting on the opposite side and turning 1 ½ times to get back to their own side

 

Duke & Duchess of Edinburgh

“Bollards and teapots”

 

Written as a wedding dance for HRH The Princess Elizabeth and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947. There is an apocryphal story that the Duke, while an excellent dancer, hates setting - so this dance contains none at all!

There is a ‘weaving’ figure of eight in this dance - it is identical to a figure of eight but without the other dancers moving. It is also called ‘bollards’.

4 All advance, stamp feet

4 All retreat, clap

8 Everyone turn partner

16 Weaving figure of eight

8 Lady 1 with Couple 2, Man 1 with Couple 3, Right hand teapot

8 Lady 1 with Couple 3, Man 1 with Couple 2, Left hand teapot

4 Couple 1 RH swing first corners

4 Couple 1 LH swing middle

4 Couple 1 RH swing second corner

4 Couple 1 turn and place Lady 1 on Ladies side

16 Circle round and back

 

Mairi’s Wedding

“The one with the crossing clover leaf”

⌘ - an arial view of the clover leaf

 

A beautiful dance, written in the 1959 to give expression to an old Gaelic song. Beautiful when done well but requires everyone to be on point! The dance is quite complicated; the shape that the dancing couple follows is a clover leaf or, for the technologically minded, the Apple command key. The dancing couple will always be crossing someone of the opposite sex.

8 Couple 1 turn

4 Cast down one place

4 Turn Left Arm

8 Face first corners and cross right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

8 Cross second corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

8 Cross third corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

8 Cross fourth corners Right shoulder; corners cross diagonally

16 Figure of Eight, Lady 1 on top, Man 1 on bottom

16 Circle round and back

 

Inverness Country Dance

“The running one

 

Truly one of the finest dances on the card. Numbered Aberdonian (1,2,1,2) it is all about long sets and you get a tremendous amount of dancing in. It’s a sight to behold to see a hundred people running down a dance floor! Everyone is involved all the time so it isn’t a dance for wallflowers!

 

To keep the flow of the dance going, after the final turn, keep hold of your partner's right hand and go straight into the next teapot.

 

8 Couple 1 and 2 Teapot Right

8 Couple 1 and 2 Teapot Left

8 Couples 1 and 2 join hands (right to right) and dance down the room

8 Couple 1 form arches, Couple 2 go underneath and continue to dance up the room

4 Couple 1 set to first corner

4 Turn

4 Couple 1 set to second corner

4 Turn

8 Couple 1 go to middle of the set, Lady facing down, Man facing up. Set twice

8 Turn straight into next teapot

 

Kandahar Reel

“Chinooks and Black Hawks”

 

The newest dance on our programme. Written by Andy and Rob Colquhoun while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with the Black Watch regiment. PGT were lucky enough to have Andy come and teach us the dance in May 2018 and we are one of the few places where you can learn this wonderful dance.

 

The dance replicates the assembling of a team, entering a chinook, a casualty evacuation in a black hawk and a return to base in a chinook. This very special dance is largely danced at 1 ½ speed to replicate the 150% our soldiers, sailors and airmen are asked to give for their country. In a small way, it is a memorial to the long years the British Army spent in Afghanistan.

 

More details about the dance can be found in this excellent Scotsman article.

 

4 Set

4 Turn 1 ½ Times Crossed

8 Lady 1 set to Man 2; Man 1 set to Lady 2; both turn Crossed Wrist. Couples 3 and 4 face up the set.

16 Couples 1 and 2 chain- Couple 1 to end up below Couple 4. Couple 2 to end up between Couple 3 and 4.

8 Right hand teapots 1 ½ times Couple 3 & 2 and Couple 4 & 1

8 Left Hand Teapot 1 ½ times Couple 3 & 1

8 Right Hand Teapot Couple 2 & 1 and Couple 3 & 4

4 All Set

4 Couples 1 and 4 cast off one place. Couples 2 and 3 turn 1 ½ times, casting up.

 

The dancing couple will join hands and run down the set when they have finished dancing

 

Postie’s Jig

“The one with the posts”

 

This dance is fairly modern, and based on an Andy Stewart song, Lassie Come And Dance With Me.

 

The dance can only be danced as four couple sets and both couples 1 and 4 start. Remember that in the arches, Gentlemen go over Ladies and your arms go UP as you go UP the set, DOWN when going DOWN the set.

 

The chain can throw many people off - it is simple if you always turn inwards. Right hand will always be with opposite sex, left hand with the same sex.

 

4 Couples 1 and 4 set

4 Couples 1 and 4 cast down

8 Couples 1 and 4 cast diagonally and down (around opposite sex)

4 Men form arches, ladies go underneath

4 Swing closest corner

4 Couples form arches, Couple going UP the set put arms UP

4 Swing closest corner

4 Men form arches, ladies go underneath

4 Swing closest corner

4 Couples form arches, Couple going UP the set put arms UP

4 Swing closest corner

4 Chain Right Hand with partner

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

8 Turn partner. 1s will now be in position 3, 4s in position 2

 

Machine Without Horses

“The one with the chain”

 

A dance that isn’t danced as often as it ought to be. It is quite simple but, because it isn’t on the dance card at every ball, has been neglected over time.

 

The key to this, like Postie’s Jig, is the chain. As long as you can nail that, the dance is fine! Remember: it is simple if you always turn in. Right hand will always be with opposite sex, left hand with the same sex. Also like Postie’s Jig, the dance must be danced in 4s.

 

4 Set

4 Cast down one place

8 Right hand teapot with Couple 3

4 Set

4 Cast up

8 Left Hand teapot with Couple 2

4 Couples 1 and 2 join hands and dance down the middle of the set.

4 Cross Couple 3 and dance up the outside of the set

8 Couple 1 touch hands in middle and cast down one place (Order 2,1,3,4)

4 Chain Right Hand with partner

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

4 Chain Right Hand with other Lady

4 Chain Left Hand with other man

 

Reel of the 51st Division

“The last one”

 

Written in a Prisoner of War camp during the Second World War by Lt Jimmy Atkinson. The 51st (Highland) Division were among the last remnants of the BEF in France, before being captured in St Valery in June 1940. While interned near Salzburg, Lt Atkinson wrote a dance to keep him and his brother officers occupied. When the instructions were sent home, the Germans believed them to be code and spent the rest of the war trying to decipher them - but another version made it home to Britain and became an instant hit. 

The bouncing in the middle represents the two arms of a Saltire cross, while the circle represents the oak wreath around it on the cap badge of the division. The dance has become a firm favourite ever since it was popularised by HM Queen Elizabeth.

 

The dance is almost always danced at the end of the night, in long ‘Aberdonian’ sets (numbered 1,2,1,2). It is a favourite of many reelers, with most elaborating their setting at the top with drops, turns, games of pat-a-cake and a thousand other possibiliti


Some more information can be found here.

4 Set

4 Cast down one place

4 Present Lady 1 to Man 2

4 Set to first corners

4 Turn first corner RH only

4 Catch LH in the middle, bounce and turn to face second corners

4 Set to second corners

4 Turn second corner RH only

4 Catch LH in the middle, bounce and turn to place Lady 1 in her line

16 Circle round and back