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What sort of dances and music can we expect?

We have a large and varied repertoire of dances ranging in origin through English, Scottish, Irish and American- we also occasionally go Welsh, Israeli, Balkan or Scandinavian. They may be very easy (the Circassian Circle, for example, is not unlike the hokey kokey) or quite challenging (such as the Strip the Willow or Eightsome Reel. If you already know a bit about this kind of dancing, feel free to request anything you like- though if it's a bit obscure, be sure to give us sufficient notice.
With some dances, such as the Gay Gordons, you have one partner who you stay with all the way through. One of the moves involves walking forwards with your partner, turning on the spot and then walking backwards- but in the same direction! This is obviously open to misinterpretation and some interesting collisions are almost inevitable!

With the Lucky Seven you start with a partner, but at the end of each sequence you walk around a circle, passing six different partners until you meet the seventh, with whom you dance the next sequence. Lucky for some! In dances such as Saturday Night there's a clapping sequence with your partner which may involve placing your arms around them and clapping behind their back- a good way to get to know someone quite intimately! The Cumberland Square Eight, in which four couples make up a group or "set", includes a figure called The Basket- a sort of scrum of four people spinning rather rapidly. This can turn into the notorious Flying Basket- in which the girls' feet rise off the ground and spin round like helicopter blades, maiming shins and kneecaps with gay abandon. And yes, we do have public liability insurance!

Some dances are very short and simple; the Circassian Circle, which usually closes the dancing, consists of little more than a big circle and something resembling the hokey-cokey. Considerably longer and more complicated is the very popular Drops of Brandy or Strip the Willow; here couples face each other down a long line; the head couple has to weave their way down the line, linking arms with and circling each member of the opposite sex in turn, alternately returning to their partner in the middle. This one always sorts the sheep from the goats! (we try to discourage goats from attending our dances)

The Music

For each dance we have a different set of tunes, matched to the rhythm of the steps. These may be reels, jigs, hornpipes, slip jigs, polkas or waltzes depending on the dance. We usually run three or four tunes together. In Quicksilver we are distinctly adventurous in our approach to the music; we tend to improvise and take liberties with the original tune. So a polka might turn into swing jazz, a hornpipe into reggae, or a slip jig into heavy rock! In between dances, when the audience needs a short break, we'll play one or two tunes, which might include Western Swing, bluegrass, Italian, French, klezmer or jazz depending on what seems suitable inappropriate. One of our specialities is "Turkey in the Borscht"- a re-working of Turkey in the Straw which alternates in style between Russian and Down Home American, gradually accelerating to a dizzying climax.

All in all, we like to have fun!

We realise that not everyone shares our eclectic and sometimes anarchic tastes, so if what you're looking for is a straight-down the line Scottish Ceilidh or American hoedown, that's what you'll get, and both the dances and in-between tunes will reflect that. We'll also be sure to dress appropriately, though there have been notable occasions when we were misinformed, and turned up for a scottish ceilidh in cowboy hats and spurs!