Country Dance

‘Calling’ Notes

Last updated: December 2021


This site, comprising a web-based copy of my country dance (English, Celtic - but not ‘Scottish’, Gaelic, American) ‘calling’ aide-memoir, is intended as a reference resource for those occasions when I don't have a hard copy to-hand - but I do have access to the web (usually via a ‘tablet’).

Dances are categorised by formation e.g. longways, circle etc., then by their title - roughly alphabetically. Dance descriptions originate from a number of different sources (hence their inconsistent presentation) - often they’re documented after actually doing the dance. Usually their precise interpretation can 'flex’ - to accommodate local conditions.

For most dances, some appropriate recorded tunes are suggested (titles are shown in italicised text), categorised by type and tempo - expressed as duration for 'once through' - usually 32 bars. ('Welcome to the Dance’, WttD, is a compilation Compact Disc, CD, set, by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, EFDSS.)

Col -

Dance terminology/conventions

Your ‘set’ is the particular sub-group of people with whom you’re dancing – usually multiples of two couples. Formations can be: longways (‘proper’, ‘improper’ or Becket), crossways, circular or square. Square dance sets comprise four couples.

‘Partner’ is the person - usually of the opposite gender - with whom you commenced dancing the current figure. When a couple are side-by-side, the male is on his partner’s left. Also explain: ‘opposites’, ‘neighbour’, and ‘corner’.


Country dance music categories are: jig (“didily-dee” - supports a bouncy, skipping step), reel (encourages a smooth walk), hornpipe (step-hop)… occasionally polka (step-step, step, hop/pause), and double-reel (rant step).

Normally, tunes repeat after 32-bars (usually equating to 64 beats - or steps) - comprising four, 8-bar phrases, designated A1, A2, B1 and B2, i.e. four groups of 16 beats (usually) = 64 beats in total before repeating. Slip jigs are unusual, their bars comprise three beats and encourage three running steps to the bar ("didily-didily-didily" - 9/8 time).

Dance tempos are roughly 120 beats per minute (bpm) (except for hornpipes and slip-jigs) i.e. two beats - or steps - per second, so a single revolution (‘once through’) of a 32-bar dance could last about 32 seconds.

A selection of appropriate, recorded accompaniment is offered, but for an event, the flexibility and atmosphere provided by live music is unsurpassable.

If it proves impossible to update this Google-hosted site for any reason, a reliable mirror site with the latest content is: . That site may also provide a nicer experience for visitors using small displays.