The boys wore ordinary boots or shoes, dark knee-length socks, short trousers with braces and white or at least pale coloured shirts. Hats were decorated with paper flowers and long ribbons, and long ribbons hung from the waist all round. The braces had rosettes and ribbons attached. The dancers carried a length of white cloth in each hand.
Various tunes were used. Mostly 'Pop Goes the Weasel', 'Oh Suzannah', and 'Charlie Barber' (a version of 'Yankee Doodle'). The tune 'The Rushcart Lads' was not generally used.
Step Across (and back - making two figures)
Step and Turn
Used to start the dance, and as a repeated unit/motif through the
Performed facing 'up' the first time (and maybe the final time), but otherwise facing partner.
Jump on both feet, left in front of right. Jump onto left foot.
Jump on both feet, right in front of left. Jump onto right foot.
At the same time:
Hands cross, left in front of right. Flick hands apart.
Hands cross, right in front of left. Flick hands apart.
Then turn on the spot upwards and outwards with three walking steps and a stamp. On the first and third step the cloths are brought smartly down from head level to make a smacking sound and are flicked up above the head on the stamp.
This whole is repeated on opposite feet, and with the turn being made inwards and downwards. Dancers on the even number side reverse feet.
(Eight bars of the music in all).
The stepping for the figures is a very fast skip step, with the free leg
behind, and starting on the inside foot in relation to the set or to partner
position. There are two steps per bar of music.
The hands move in an over arm bowling action, left arm with right leg, etc., (when moving forward) and thrown up on the feet together stamp.
Three steps forward starting on the inside foot in relation to the set, then
outside leg is swung forward.
Three steps back to place starting with the outside foot, then free leg is stamped 'feet together'.
Repeated from the beginning. Eight bars in all.
On the three back steps the over arm action is still forward, and is the same arm as leg to maintain in line balance.
Partners change places, passing by the right shoulder, using seven steps and
a stamp, (turning right to face partner before the stamp). A Step and Turn is
performed and then partners cross back again passing by the right shoulder as
Alternatively half a Step and Turn is used, and the second half Step and Turn when partners have returned to place.
First corners cross in each group of four, passing by the right shoulder and
starting on the right foot. Dance beyond the opposite corner place and turn
right into position with seven steps and a stamp.
At the same time the second corners perform the first half of a Step and Turn.
Second corners then cross in the same manner while the first corner pair perform the second half of the Step and Turn.
This can be the complete figure with dancers adopting new positions in the set, or the whole can be repeated back to original places.
Partners cross, passing by the right shoulder, with three steps starting on
the right foot. The left leg is swung forward (as in the Step Up) and all turn
to the left to form a left-hand star. The star travels half way round only.
Partners repeat the process, passing by the left shoulder, starting on the left foot and swinging the right leg forward to turn right into a right-hand star back to place.
No information on hands was given to me for this figure, but the over arm
bowling could accompany the first two steps of each half.
It should be noted that numbers one, four, five and eight will have more problem forming the star than the other dancers, because of their positions before turning.
The bottom couple dances together up the middle of the set and casts out and
down the outside back to their places with continuous steps, starting on the
inside foot in relation to partner. As this couple reaches the top of the set
the next couple (from the bottom) dances up together and casts round, followed
by each pair in turn in the same manner.
While not casting, the dancers perform Step and Turns (making sure they are doing the turns in the same direction - first turn being up). Each pair moving off at four bar intervals.
As above but with the top couple dancing down the inside of the set and casting out and back up the outside, followed at four bar intervals by the other pairs in turn.
This figure is a combination of the Cast Up and Cast Down.
Each pair dances in alternately opposite directions usually, but not necessarily, starting with bottom pair first.
1. The bottom couple dance up and cast out and down.
2. The top couple dance down and cast out and up.
3. The second pair from the bottom dance up and cast out and down.
4. The second pair from the top dance down and cast out and up.
When moving pairs pass the later pair to go must take the outside track so
that they have cast around all the other dancers.
This figure takes twenty-four bars for a set of eight men.