BackModern Western Square Dance




These notes were first used at Eastbourne International Folk Festival in 1990, and expanded when I put them on the website in 2012.  Since then some of the MWSD figures have come into more common use and I don't need to explain them in so much detail now.

I'm not pretending to be a Modern Western Square caller, so don't attack me for the wrong reasons!  I call to folk dancers in England and I know what they're likely to find easy or difficult.  These are my notes; if you like them, please use them and adapt them as you wish.

Lots of dancers in England don't realise that there are major differences in American Squares and Contras — differences between England and America, and also differences within America.  I've written a couple of articles in “English Dance & Song” magazine about the difference in styles between here and there — they do contras with a lot more energy and eye contact; the contras go on much longer; they do a single balance and a long swing; they swap partners every dance, and they expect a partner swing (and frequently a neighbour swing) in virtually every contra.  And many places just do contras; they object to squares for various reasons.

But even within America there are several different types of square.  New England Squares, from the East Coast, are what we're most familiar with.  Southern Squares tend to be played faster, and the movements aren't usually fitted into four-bar phrases of music.  Bill Litchman has been at Sidmouth more than once calling traditional Western Squares, which reminded me very much of running set.  But by far the biggest group of Square dancers (in the USA and all over the world) are those doing Modern Western Square Dancing.  I've heard several people in England say “Proper, American Square Dancers do so-and-so”.  This would not go down well with Tony Parkes, Ted Sannella, Gene Hubert, Dan Pearl, Mike Richardson, Bill Litchman, Roger Whynot, Larry Jennings, Al Olson, Bob Dalsemer and thousands of other tradition-style callers, dancers and dance-writers.  What they're talking about is Western Square Dancers — and that's a whole different world, with attainment levels, classes, graduation, springy petticoats and towels on the belt.

Modern Western Square Dancing is done to recorded music with very little tune or phrasing, and it's not done to fit to the music at all — the music's just there to provide a regular beat.  The caller will walk through a new figure (and there are hundreds of new figures), but he won't walk through a dance: you just have to listen, and it probably won't have the same figure four times through.  New England Squares, as written or called by Tony Parkes, Ted Sannella or Ralph Page, are traditional in style, they fit the music and you get a walkthrough of the figure (though usually not of the break).

Now I tend to be different — that word again — I'm quite happy to pick out what I like from each style.  I sent one of my contras to the Folk Dancing newsgroup on the Internet (I was rather pleased with it) and suggested that it wouldn't find favour with American contra dancers because it didn't contain a partner swing.  Someone replied that it wouldn't find favour because it did contain a Star Through — which is a movement from Western Square.  There was some discussion from various people along the lines of “Would American contra dancers really be so prejudiced that they'd condemn a dance because of that?” — and the general opinion seemed to be “Yes we would”!

So, my American Square workshops tend to be a mixture of the two styles.  Some I walk you through, and they fit the music — others I just hit you with.  My theory is that if you've walked through a new dance and then danced it successfully, you're ready to try another dance, incorporating the same new figure, without a walkthrough.  See if you agree with me!

Figures

This is the list I select from when making up a programme.  All the Basic figures are given later on this page.  Of the others, some are dances by me (either in my Squares with a Difference books Volume 1 or Volume 2 or on my website), others are dances by other people or just sequences of figures I've picked up from somewhere.

Basic 1: English figures

Basic 1A: English figures

Basic 2: Bend the line, Pass through

Basic 3: Square through, Star through, Dive through

Could precede this by:

Alabama Jubilee Squarejust Star through
Count-Downjust Square through

Contras involving Square Through:

Eighteenth of Januaryalso Star through
The Eternal Bond2 hands
Falling in love again2 hands
Just a Thoughtplus several other figures!
Ken's Dream3 hands
Walk the chalk line2 hands
The Apprentice3 hands
Green River4 hands
Heather's Jig2 hands

Basic 3A: Eight chain (without Square through)

Could precede this by:

Sidmouth Square
The Slender Chain

Basic 4: Revision

uses Square through, Dive through, Star through.
uses Dive through, Star through, Bend the line.

Basic 5: Swing through

Could precede this by:

Frances's Fancy
Colin's Back

Basic 6: Wheel around, Flutter wheel

Contras involving Flutter Wheel:

Big Hat Man
General Burton's Reel
Just a Thoughtlots more figures
Scat-a-cook Reel
Star and Promenade
S. W. Contra
You with the stars in your eyes

Sicilian Circles involving Flutter Wheel:

Alan's Sicilian
Behind You!
Dodge City Circle
Good HopeSweep a quarter
Whynot's Circle ContraSweep a quarter

Basic 7: Wheel and Deal from a two-faced line, Double pass through

uses Star through, Dive through.
uses Star through.

Could precede this by:

Going West

Basic 7A: Wheel and Deal from a line

uses Square through, Star through, Double pass through.
uses Swing through, (optional) Flutter wheel, Bend the line.
uses (optional) Flutter wheel, Square through.
uses Star through.

Could precede this by:

The Bletchingley Square
Double Dealing

Basic 7B: Wheel and Deal (both kinds)

but no other Western figures except Square through

Count-DownGood practice at Square through
Double-DealingWheel and Deal from a line
Eight chain Three / Four / Five / Six
Flutter Wheel
I love to hear Dave DudleyQuite a lot of figures
Ladies FirstStar through (but it's complex enough to fool many people).
Square through
Star through
Swing through (phrased)
The Wrong Side of TownSame figures as Triple Zero, but phrased, progressive, and men always on the left — so do this one first.
Triple ZeroWheel and Deal from a line, Double pass through, Star through, Centres in, cast off ¾

Modern Western Square

If you go to a Western Square Dance Class you start at the Basic level.  There are about 50 basics, depending on how you count them — and they include all the square dance movements you would learn at an English club, plus many more.

For instance, the first four on the list I have are Circle, Forward and Back, Do-sa-do and Swing; the last four are Trade by, Touch a Quarter, Circulate and Ferris Wheel.  We'll see how far we get!

Beyond the Basic level there are others: at different times there have been Extended, Mainstream, Plus, Al, A2 and Challenge levels C1-4.  My list may be out of date but the idea of levels remains: you have to keep going to your class or you're lost.

Western Square callers will walk through a new figure in great detail, but they won't walk through a new dance.  They just put on the music and call — and the dancers don't talk to each other, they just do what the caller says!  It's wonderful — in some ways.  As soon as he says “Bow to the partner” there's complete silence.

Let's see how you take to that.  I'll start with figures you all know — but let me make a few points about style.

Allemande left (and right) are always done with a forearm grip, because you get round quicker and keep the set smaller.

A swing is normally walked, and it's usually only once around (or even half-way).  If you try and do a long swing you'll be late for the next figure — and it's not my fault for calling too fast.  Similarly anyone who tries to do fancy stuff like spinning round in a do-si-do or twirling the lady when you don't know what's coming next is asking for trouble.

If you're standing in the square not involved in the action, just hold your partner's hand: that means you'll stay in the correct orientation.

And if I say “Right and left grand” that's American for “Grain chain” (and used by traditional as well as Western callers).  “Weave the ring” is a grand chain without hands.

Basic 1: English figures

Circle left.  Allemande left, right and left grand.  Do-sa-do.  Promenade.

Heads forward and back.  Right & left through.

Sides forward and back.  Side ladies chain across.

Sides again, forward and back.  Right and left through.

Heads forward and back.  Head ladies chain to the right.

All join hands and circle left.  Allemande left new corner, walk past your partner, swing.your original partner.  Promenade.  [That's 7 figures so far.]


All four ladies chain.  Turn them around, chain back.

Heads forward and back.  Lead to the right, circle to a line.

Lines forward and back.  Two ladies chain across.  Ladies do-sa-do.  Ladies cross over and swing the opposite man (partner).

Allemande left corner, give right to partner and box the gnat.  Wrong way grand.  Meet partner, do-sa-do.  Walk past, allemande left corner, promenade partner.


All four ladies chain.  All four ladies chain three-quarters.

Sides forward and back.  Sides lead right and circle to a line.

Lines forward and back.  Cross over, U-turn back (turn alone).

Lines forward and back.  Just the middle four, right & left through.

All circle left.  Allemande left corner, weave the ring.  Swing.  Promenade.


Ladies right-hand star.  Back with a left.

Allemande right your partner, a full turn around.

Allemande left corner, men right-hand star.  Back with a left.

Pick up your partner: star promenade.  Gents swing out, ladies in, turn 1½, ladies right hands in, star promenade.

All four ladies chain.  All four ladies chain three-quarters.

Promenade.  Lady in the lead, go single file.  Men turn round, swing the one behind you.  Promenade.


We've now used about fifteen of the fifty or so basics.

Basic 1A: English figures

Honour partner, corner.  Circle left half-way.  Do-si-do partner.  Allemande left corner.  Grand chain home.

Heads forward and back.  Right and left through.  Pass through, separate, round one to the middle of a line of four.

Forward & back.  Pass through, turn right, go single file.  Face in, circle left.  Men swing the nearest lady (original opposite).  Promenade.


Sides forward and back.  Right and left through.  Pass through, separate, round two to the ends of a line of four.

Lines forward and back.  Pass through, U-turn back.  Everybody right & left through.  Pass through, turn left, single file circle.  Face in, circle left.

Allemande left corner, weave the ring.  Do-si-do, swing, promenade.


Heads forward and back.  Head ladies chain across.

Sides forward and back.  Side ladies chain to the right.

Head ladies chain across.  Side ladies chain to the right.

All circle left half-way.  All four ladies chain.

Allemande left corner, grand chain.  Swing at home.


Heads right-hand star.  Back with a left.

Sides right-hand star.  Allemande left corner, men right-hand star.  Back with a left.  Pick up partner: star promenade.  Ladies cast off and backtrack, men keep going, look for your corner…  do-si-do.  Walk past, swing your partner, promenade.


Ladies right-hand star.  Do-si-do partner.  Men left-hand star.

Pick up your partner: star promenade.  Gents swing out, ladies in, turn 1½, ladies right hands in, star promenade.

Men cast off and back-track, pass your partner once, keep going, look for your corner…  allemande left all the way, find partner, swing.  Promenade.


Heads bow and swing.  Promenade half-way round the outside.  Lead to the right and circle with the sides.  Head men break to side lines.

Lines forward and back.  Right and left through.  All four ladies chain.  Promenade to the man's place.  [All now with opposite.]

Sides bow and swing.  Side ladies chain across.  Sides lead right and circle to a line.

Lines forward and back.  Two ladies chain across.  All circle left.

In to the middle and back.  All four ladies chain three-quarters.


Allemande left, weave the ring.  Do-si-do partner.  Swing corner.  All four ladies chain.  Promenade.  Lady in the lead go single file.  Men turn round, swing the one behind you.  Promenade partner home.
A few points about what we did.  English dancers tend to be bad at finishing figures off.  In Western Square the Right and left through ends with a courtesy turn like a ladies chain, but even if you don't put your arm round her waist, men, you must turn in towards her and make sure that both of you are facing the right way: back to where you came from.

Notice that in Western Square, ladies' chain or all four ladies chain, right and left through and right and left grand are half-way only.

Another area of confusion: “your partner” means the lady on your right or the man on your left at this moment — not necessarily your original partner.  Similarly corner.

Now I want to look at a few figures which are dead simple, but which people insist on making complicated.

Pass Through means that you walk past the person you're facing, by the right shoulder — and that's it.  You don't turn; you're facing the same direction the whole time.

Heads pass thorough.  California Twirl (inside hand, as in La Russe).

Sides the same.

Heads pass through.  U-turn back — just turn on the spot individually to face back the way you came.

Sides the same.

Allemande left your corner.  Yes, she's your corner now, not your partner, because she's on your left.  Swing your partner.  Yes, your new one!  Come back home and square the set.

The next very simple move that people have trouble with is Bend the Line.  Try this: Heads lead to the right and circle to a line.  Lines forward and back.  Now, for Bend the Line you keep hold at the ends, let go in the middle, ends move forwards, middles backwards until you're facing the pair who were in your line.  It's always one quarter, never three — you turn the shortest way to face them.  I know some of the men can't cope with that — they've been trained to go backwards for too many years!

So from here, Bend the Line.  Now Pass Through and Bend the Line.  Again Pass Through and Bend the Line.

Right and Left Through and Bend the Line.  Again, Right and Left Through and Bend the Line.

You should be nearly home.  Square your sets: here we go.  If you get lost, square your set and wait for the allemande left.

Basic 2: Bend the line, Pass through

Honour your partner, and your corner.  Swing your corner.  Circle left.  All four ladies chain.  All four ladies chain three-quarters.  Promenade.

Heads forward and back.  Lead to the right, circle to a line.

Lines forward & back.  Pass through, bend the line, right and left through.

All that again.

Bend the line, ladies chain up and down the set.  Bend the line, ladies chain across the set.

Join hands, circle left.  All four ladies chain, and do a Wrong Way promenade home — men on outside for once.  [It gets worse.  Stay awake.]


Heads right and left through.  Pass through, separate, round two, onto the end of a line of four.

Lines forward and back.  Pass through, bend the line.

That again.

Pass through, turn right, go single file.  Ladies backtrack — cast out, pass your partner, allemande left your corner, right and left grand, promenade.

Sides right and left through — same as before, first three lines.  Pass through, turn left, go single file.  Men backtrack, pass your partner by, allemande left your corner, promenade partner.


Heads forward and back.  Pass through, separate, round one to the middle of a line of four.

Lines forward and back.  Pass through, bend the line.

That again.

Middle four, right and left through.  Same four pass through, look for your corner, allemande left, promenade partner.

Sides exactly the same, …  allemande left, weave the ring, promenade.


Head ladies chain.  Head ladies chain to the left.  Heads forward and back.  Pass through, separate, round one, sides pass through, swing your original partner.  Promenade home.
A number of figures end with the word “through”, just like “pass through”.  They're all ways of getting past the person you are facing.  Pass through is the easiest; I want to throw another three at you.

Square Through is similar to Right and Left Through but with two crucial differences:

  1. You don't do a courtesy turn, you just pull by.
  2. You don't turn in after the final pull by.
In fact a better way to think of it is a miniature Right and Left Grand, with just four people.  In English terms it's like a circular hey with hands.  The rule is: For each hand except the last you pull by and turn in a quarter.  For the last you just pull by, and wait for the next call.

Heads right and left through.  Square through four hands.  You're facing the sides: make sure you're in a column and not drifting back into a square.  You get about 10 steps, whereas a right and left through and back are 16 steps, so keep it tight.  I've read that it was Square Through which started the trend away from phrasing the figures to the music.

Square Through is often four hands.  It can also be 2, 3 or 5 — square through one hand is just a pull by.

From here everybody square through four hands — keep in your own fours.  You're facing out, so bend the line, and square through three hands (or three-quarters, you will also hear).  Bend the line, square through two hands, swing your partner (opposite your home place) and square the set.

The same with the sides leading (finishing home).

Star Through is quite different.  It's nothing to do with a star, and it's unusual in that the men use their right hand but the ladies use their left hand.  As in Pass Through and Square Through, you're involved with the person you're facing, not the one standing beside you. Heads star through.  Hands palm to palm (not gripping) and raise them to make an arch.  You both move forward — lady through the arch, man round the lady, turning one quarter to finish beside this person; don't drift back into a square.  You need to be aware that Star Through is a change direction movement.  You're facing your original partner.  Star through.  Star through again.  It's a change of direction movement.  Pass through to face your corner.  Star through.  Lines forward and back.  Star through.  Square through — you haven't forgotten that one, have you?  You're facing out: Bend the line.  Star through.

The third one to learn is Dive Through, and it occurs only from this position: inside couples facing outside couples.  Take your current partner by the obvious hand, insides arch, outsides dive through the arch — everybody moves forward.  This leaves the new outsides facing nobody, so you automatically do a California Twirl — you've already got the necessary hands joined — which could also be described it as face your partner and star through.

Middles pass through.  Dive through, and swing the one who's coming to you — or the one on the end of your arm, so in this case you don't need the California Twirl.  This time it's your original partner, and you should be home.

Remember that in Dive Through, if you finish facing out you do a California Twirl.  If I'd said Pass Through from that same position you'd just pass right shoulders with the opposite person and stop, waiting for the next call.

A simple one first, one of mine just based on Star Through: Alabama Jubilee Square.

Basic 3: Square/Star/Dive through

Honour your partners, corners too; head two couples right and left through.  Side two couples right and left through.  Everybody, right and left grand — right to your honey and chain the land.  When you meet her, do-si-do.  Swing her once, and here we go.

Heads square through 4 hands.  Right-hand star with the outside two.  Back to the middle with a left-hand star.  Same four people right-hand star.  Allemande left your corner, swing your partner.

Sides square through 4 hands.  Right-hand star with the outside two. Back to the middle with a left-hand star.  With the outside two, right and left through.  Insides arch: dive through, square through three hands, allemande left your corner, swing your partner.


Head ladies chain across.  Head ladies chain to the right.

Heads go forward and back.  Square through 4 hands.

With the outside two, square through 4 hands.

You're facing out, so bend the line; lines go forward and back.

With the couple you're facing, square through 3 hands.  Swing.  Promenade.

Sides square through 4.  Split the heads, go round one to the end of a line.

Lines forward and back.  Just the middle four, square through 4, there's your corner — allemande left, right and left grand, promenade.


Remember, Star Through is man's right to lady's left and you finish side by side.

Heads forward and back.  With your opposite, star through.  Right and left through.  Pass through, allemande left corner, swing partner.

Sides ditto.

Heads forward and back.  Star through, pass through, star through with the outside two.  Lines forward and back.  Star through, dive through, pass through, allemande left, swing.

Sides forward and back.  Star through, pass through, right and left through with the outside two.  Dive through, pass through, allemande left, right and left grand.  Meet your partner, do-si-do.  With your corner do-si-do.  Star through.  All four ladies chain.  Circle left.  Swing corner.  Promenade.


An Eight Chain is something like a grand chain (right and left grand) which has been squashed in, so instead of going round a circle you're going up one straight line and down another.  When you reach the end, instead of a pull by with the left hand you do a courtesy turn.

“Eight Chain” is normally followed by a second number, telling you how many people you're going to pass by.  Eight chain three and eight chain four are probably the most common.  Eight chain eight, which takes you all the way round and back to where you started, is also called “Eight Chain Through''.  At the other extreme, ”Eight chain one'' is just a pull by.

All four ladies chain.  Heads right and left through.  Heads star through, pass through.  Eight chain six.  Allemande left number seven.  Promenade partner.

Sides the same.

The Slender Chain

Colin Hume, 1994.

A1:Head ladies chain across.  Head ladies chain right.
A2:Heads forward and back.  Swing opposite, face the sides.
B1:Eight chain five, swing number 6 (original corner).
B2:--- Promenade to the man's place (¾).

This is just a simple phrased figure I put together to use an eight chain five.

Basic 3A: Eight Chain (without Square Through)

Honour partner, corner.  Heads forward and back.

Heads promenade three-quarters, side ladies chain.

Sides pass through, do-si-do the outside two (corner).  Look her in the eye — do an eight chain four.  Allemande left corner, swing partner, promenade home.

This is nearly “Sidmouth Square”.  If you've already done that, an alternative start is:

Honour partner, corner.  All four ladies chain.

Heads promenade half-way; sides star through, pass through, do-si-do the outside two.

Eight chain six.  Allemande left corner, swing partner, promenade home.


All four ladies chain.  Sides promenade three-quarters, head ladies chain.

Heads pass through — eight chain five.  Swing number six (partner).


Allemande left corner, men right-hand star, ladies move round the outside.  Allemande left same corner — ladies star, men walk.  Allemande left one more time, right and left grand.  Swing.  Promenade.
Heads right and left through.  Sides right and left through.

Heads pass through, separate round two people, onto the end of a line of four.

Lines forward and back.  Cross over.  Lines forward and back.

Star through.  Eight chain three.  Swing partner (home).


All four ladies chain three-quarters.  Sides pass through, separate round two people, onto the end of lines across the hall.

Lines forward and back.  Cross over.  Lines forward and back.

Star through.  Eight chain three.  Allemande left corner, do-si-do partner.  Allemande left corner, weave the ring.  Promenade.  Swing.

Basic 4: Revision

Honour your partner, and your corner.

Head ladies chain.  Side ladies chain.  Head ladies chain back.

Heads promenade three-quarters.  Sides go forward and back, now pass through — allemande left your corner, right and left grand, do-si-do, promenade home.


Heads forward and back.  Square through 4 hands.  Do-si-do corner.

Dive through, pass through, do-si-do the outside two.

Dive through, pass through, allemande left, right and left grand (home).

Sides promenade half-way.  Square through 4 hands.  Right & left through.

Dive through, centres star through (home), allemande left, swing partner.


Sides forward and back.  Side ladies chain across.

Heads forward and back.  Star through, pass through, ladies chain with the outside two.

Star through, pass through, bend the line.  Lines forward and back.

Right and left through.  Star through, dive through, pass through, swing partner.  Promenade.

Heads forward and back.  Head ladies chain across.

Sides forward and back.  Star through, pass through, ladies chain with the outside two.

Star through, pass through, bend the line.  [Lines forward and back.]

Right and left through.  Star through, dive through, pass through, swing partner.  Promenade.


All four ladies chain.  Heads lead right, circle to a line.  Lines forward & back.

Pass through, bend the line, ladies chain up and down.

Pass through, bend the line, ladies chain across.

Circle left.  Allemande left corner, weave the ring, promenade, swing.


The next figure I want to look at is called Swing Through.  It's nothing to do with a ballroom hold, but it is a smooth flowing movement with plenty of swing to it.  It starts and finishes in a wave.

Heads do-si-do your opposite.  Give right hand to that opposite; ladies join left hands: that's an ocean wave.  It frequently has the men on the ends, but certainly not always.

Swing Through means that those who can do a right-hand turn half-way and then those who can do a left-hand turn half-way — linking up into a wave again at the end of each half.  Try it.  In all the moves I'll be doing it will start with a turn at the ends for everybody — but it needn't be.  There's also a Left Swing Through which I'm not touching.  Keep your hands up, palm to palm, elbows in, and make it a turn rather than a pull by.

From here, Swing through.  This time it's the ladies who do the second turn.  Pass through; U-turn back.  You should be home but improper.

Same for the sides.  Heads.  Sides (all home).  Make sure it flows.

You could even be in a tidal wave — a wave for all eight of you.  The rule is still the same: half a right; half a left.

  Could do: Give me one more chance

Basic 5: Swing through

Heads roll away, sides go forward and back.  Sides lead out to the right, circle left, side men break to form head lines.  Lines forward and back.  Ladies right-hand star.  Allemande left corner, right and left grand.  Box the gnat, wrong way grand.  Swing.  Promenade.

Heads forward and back.  Do-si-do opposite to an ocean wave.

Swing through.  Pass through, separate, go round one, stand behind sides.

Sides forward and back.  Do-si-do opposite to an ocean wave.

Swing through.  Pass through, split two, go round one to the end of a line.

Lines forward and back.  Circle left.  Allemande left corner, do-si-do partner.  Swing corner (original partner).  Promenade.


Sides do-si-do opposite to an ocean wave.  Swing through, pass through, separate, go round one, swing partner behind the heads.

Heads do-si-do opposite to an ocean wave.  Swing through, pass through, split the outside two, walk past your partner,

Allemande left corner, right and left grand, promenade home.

Heads forward and back.  Square through 4 hands.  Do-si-do corner.

Swing through.  Swing through again.

Pass through.  Centres square through 3, ends California twirl.

Allemande left corner, swing (home).

Sides the same.  Promenade.

Here comes the tricky one…


All four ladies chain.  Heads forward and back.  Do-si-do to a wave.

Swing through, pass through, separate, round one to middle of line of four.

Forward and back.  [Ladies with the left hand:]  Star through, dive through, middles do-so-do to a wave.

Swing through, pass through, do-si-do same sex.  Swing through, pass through.

Men in the middle swing through, ladies U-turn back.

Men pass through, swing partner.  Promenade.

All four ladies chain.  Sides forward and back.  Do-si-do to a wave.

Swing through, pass through, separate, round one to middle of head lines.

Forward and back.  Star through, dive through, roll away.

Middles do-si-do to a wave.

Swing through, pass through, do-si-do same sex.  Swing through, pass through.

Ladies in the middle swing through, men U-turn back.

Ladies pass through, swing partner.  Swing corner.

All four ladies chain.  Promenade.  Go single file.  Men turn round, swing original partner.  Promenade.


Here's an easier alternative to the previous section — or a follow-up if it breaks down.

Men right-hand star.  Back with the left.  Pick up [original] partner: star promenade.  Gents swing out, ladies in — all four ladies chain.  All four ladies chain three-quarters.  Promenade.

Heads forward and back.  Lead right and circle to a line.

Lines forward and back.  Do-si-do your opposite to a tidal wave.

Swing through [half a right, half a left, as always], pass through, U-turn back

Lines forward and back.  Star through, swing partner, promenade.


Two more figures: the first is dead simple (but it confuses some people); the second is simple provided the men go the right way (but isn't that true of all figures, ladies?).

Wheel around simply means turn as a couple — man backwards, lady forwards — and face back the way you came, waiting for the next call.  It's usually done from a promenade.  Normally a promenade is to the man's place and reform the square, but if you're promenading and the caller says “Don't stop, don't slow down” he's probably going to follow that with somebody doing a wheel around.

Everybody promenade.  Don't stop, don't slow down.  Head couples wheel around.  This means the sides have to stop, or they'd walk into the heads.  You should be in two facing lines — it doesn't matter if they're on the diagonal.  Ones are facing fours; threes are facing twos.

Right and left through, and all promenade.  Sides wheel around.  You should be facing the same couple.  Right and left through, and promenade home.

The other figure is a Flutter Wheel.  It's the opposite of a ladies chain.  In a chain the ladies change places; in a flutter wheel the men change places.  Strictly speaking it's not the men, it's whoever is on the left: unlike Ladies Chain, Flutterwheel is a unisex figure.

Heads forward and back.  Ladies give right hand, just as for a chain, and turn till you're facing the other man.  Men — if you start moving backwards to do a courtesy turn you'll never recover — remember, in a fluttter wheel you need to finish in the other man's place.  So men, take her free hand in your right hand and then lead her round to the opposite place as if you were circling left half-way.  Ladies, let go of each other just before you get there, or you'll end up in one long line instead of couple facing couple.  Do it all again.  Then twice for the sides.

Sometimes the call is Flutter Wheel and Sweep a Quarter More.  This means that when you get to the bit I said was like a circle left half-way you take it round another quarter, so you all finish sideways on to your starting direction.

Heads: Flutter Wheel and sweep a quarter more.  Pass through.  You're facing the sides — in fact you're facing your corner.  Everybody: Flutter Wheel and sweep a quarter more.  You're in lines across the hall.  Pass through; bend the line.  Flutter wheel (I didn't say a quarter more).  Ladies chain.  Pass through; bend the line, circle left.  All four ladies chain three-quarters — you should be with your opposite.  All four ladies flutter wheel.  Promenade your partner home.

You can do a flutter wheel where the men are on the right (so they do the right-hand turn) or with two men facing two women, and you can do Reverse the Flutter where the left-hand people start by giving left hand — but we won't worry about that yet.

Basic 6: Wheel around, Flutter Wheel

Honour your partner, allemande left your corner, right and left grand.  Meet your partner, promenade.  Don't stop, don't slow down; head two couples wheel around.

Lines forward and back.  Right and left through.

Star through, dive through, in the middle square through 3, swing partner.

Promenade (Crossed).  Don't stop, don't slow down; side couples wheel around.

Lines forward and back.  Right and left through.

Star through, dive through, in the middle right and left through.

Pass through, swing partner.  Promenade home.


Heads square through 4 hands.  Split the sides, round one to end of a line.

Forward and back.  Box the gnat.  Right and left through.  Star through.

Allemande left corner, come back one and promenade.  It's not your original partner but don't panic — and don't slow down.

Heads wheel around.  Lines forward and back.  Flutter wheel.

Pass through, bend the line, flutter wheel.  All circle left.  Allemande left corner, right and left grand, swing, promenade.


Side ladies chain.  Sides lead right, circle to a line.  Forward eight & back.  Flutter wheel and sweep a quarter more.  Insides arch: dive through.  In the middle, flutter wheel.  Pass through, swing partner, promenade (Crossed).

Sides wheel around.  Right and left through.  All join hands and circle left.  Allemande left corner.  Promenade partner.

Head ladies chain.  Heads lead right and circle to a line.  Forward eight and back.  Flutter wheel and sweep a quarter more.  Insides arch: dive through.  In the middle, flutter wheel.  Pass through, square through 3 hands, look for your corner.  Allemande left, right and left grand, promenade.


Side ladies chain.  Side ladies chain to your left.  All promenade.  All four couples wheel around: wrong way promenade.  Put the lady in the lead, go single file.  Men turn around, swing (original partner).

Allemande left, go allemande thar.  Shoot the star, go allemande thar.  Shoot the star, face your partner, right and left grand.  Promenade.  Swing.


All A-Flutter

This is more complicated — not always man on left, lady on right.

Heads go forward and back.  Flutter wheel.  Head men with your corner go forward and back.  Flutter wheel.

Sides the same.  (All half-way round.)

Allemande left corner, weave the ring, swing at home.


Heads forward and back.  Pass through, separate, round one to a line of four.  Forward and back.  At each end, flutter-wheel.

Lines forward and back.  In the middle, just the men flutter-wheel and sweep a quarter more.  Pass through, swing partner.  Promenade home (all the way).

Heads forward and back.  Side ladies chain across.  Heads cross trail through, separate, round two to the ends of a line of four.  Forward and back.  At each end, flutter-wheel.

Lines forward and back.  In the middle, just the men flutter-wheel and sweep a quarter more.  Pass through, swing partner.  Promenade home (all the way).


Sides right and left through.  Side men with your corner go forward and back.  Pass through, separate, round one to the middle of a diagonal line of four.  Forward and back.  At each end, flutter-wheel.

Lines forward and back.  In the middle, just the ladies flutter-wheel.  Pass through, separate, go round one, come into the middle with a right-hand star and look for your corner.  Allemande left corner, swing partner — you should be home.

Heads promenade half-way.  Head men with your corner go forward and back.  Cross trail through, separate, round two to the ends of a line of four.  Forward and back.  At each end, flutter-wheel.

Lines forward and back.  In the middle, just the ladies flutter-wheel.  Pass through, separate, go round one, come into the middle with a right-hand star and look for your corner.  Allemande left corner, swing partner, promenade home.


Heads roll away.  All four couples flutter-wheel.

Sides roll away.  All four couples flutter-wheel.  (All home but improper)

Allemande left corner, right and left grand.  Meet again with a do-si-do.  Swing corner (original partner).  Promenade home.


Spin the Top is like a swing through, but the wave rotates through 90 degrees.

Heads step forward to a wave — and I'm not going to consider a left-hand wave, so make sure you give right to your opposite and the two ladies give left to each other.

Spin the Top starts with the ends right-hand turn half-way — so the men are in the middle this time.  Make sure you know who is in your right hand.  Middles left-hand turn three-quarters while the ends move round to meet that same person in a wave up-and-down.

Do it again: Spin the Top.  This time the ladies turn three-quarters while the men move round.  Fall back two steps — you should be home.

Sides do the same.  As with a swing through, make it smooth and flowing — I know I've broken it down into two parts to teach it, but there shouldn't be any sort of jolt in the middle.


Heads do-si-do opposite to a wave.  Spin the top.  Pass through, do-si-do same sex, to a wave.  Spin the top to a tidal wave.  Pass through.  [This all comes in my dance “Topspin”.]   You're facing out, so bend the line.  Lines forward and back (men in the middle).  Pass through, bend the line, men right-hand star all the way and a little bit more.  Allemande left corner, promenade home.

Sides the same — after the allemande left, grand right and left, swing promenade.


Heads circle left three-quarters, pass through, do-si-do the outside two.  Dive through, sides in the middle make a wave and spin the top.

Now pass through, separate, round one to the centre of a line of four.  Lines forward and back (to original partner).

Ladies chain across.  Promenade all the way.

OR — at each end, spin the top????

Wheel and Deal

This one is classed as a single figure in Western Square, but in fact there are two different versions, which start and finish in different formations.

The first starting formation for a Wheel and Deal is a two-faced line.  This version is easier, because both couples to the same thing.

Heads step forward and face the sides.  All take inside hand with your partner (by which I mean the person beside you) and veer to the left — ladies link right hands — that's a two-faced line (not to be confused with an ordinary line, a wave or a column).

Wheel and Deal from this position means that as couples you take a step forward and then wheel in — not turning as a couple, but the middle person acting as a pivot to wheel the end person in — finishing in box formation, facing the couple who were on the other end of your two-faced line.

Right and left through.  Dive through.  Sides now in the middle, veer left to a two-faced line.  Wheel and Deal.

Dive through, veer right — the sides are in the middle again but this time the two-faced line is the other way round.  This is all-position dancing — it could be two women on one end and two men on the other — it makes no difference to the figure.

Wheel and Deal.  Right and left through.

Dive through.  Veer right in the middle (heads).  Wheel and Deal.  Star through, and fall back to place.

  Going West

Before the “no walkthrough” attempt at Wheel and Deal, here are a couple of easy figures you may have already met.

Heads pass through, separate, round one to the middle of a line of four.  Everybody star through (with the one you're facing).

You're now in what's called “Double pass through formation”, because from here the standard figure to call is Double pass through.  You all walk forward, passing two people by the right shoulder — it's not a weaving movement — until you're all facing out.  Go!

When you've passed everybody, take inside hand with your partner (I didn't say your original partner — the person currently where your partner should be).  What you often get from here (but don't assume it) is: First couple go left, next couple go right.  Wheel out the way you've been told — the following couple need to take a step forward before they wheel — and don't go too far.  You should be in a line of four across the hall with the couple who were going your way, facing the other line.

Middle four pass through, separate, round one to the end of a line of four — the others need to move in.  Star through, double pass through, first couple left, next couple right, to lines up and down the hall.

Repeat this paragraph twice, but with first couple right, next couple left both times, to finish in lines up and down.

Swing your corner and square the set — you should be home.

So let's combine some of that with the Wheel and Deal, and see what happens!

Basic 7: Wheel and Deal from a two-faced line, Double pass through.

Honour partner and corner.

Head ladies chain across.  Head ladies chain to the right.  New head ladies chain across.  Head ladies chain to the right.

Allemande left corner, walk past one, swing the next.

Allemande left new corner, walk past one, swing partner.  Promenade.


Heads forward and back.  Ladies chain across.

Star through, pass through, circle left with the outside two.

Veer left, Wheel and Deal to face.

Insides arch, Dive through, in the middle do-si-do (all with partner).

Double pass through, first couple left, next couple right, to lines up and down the hall.  Forward and back.

Star through, veer left, wheel and deal to face.

Right and left through.  Pass through (original partner), allemande left corner, promenade.

Repeat all this for the sides, but follow allemande left with:

Grand chain.  Box the gnat, wrong way grand.  Swing.  Promenade.


Heads forward and back.  Head ladies chain across.

Sides pass through, separate, round two to the end of a line of four across.

Lines forward and back (say “Hello partner”).  Pass through, U-turn back.

Lines forward and back.  At each end, circle left 3/4.  Veer left, Wheel and Deal to face.  Pass through, allemande left corner, promenade partner.


Sides promenade half-way.  Heads right and left through.

Side ladies chain.  Heads pass through, separate, round one to a line.

Lines forward and back.  Star through, double pass through, first couple left, next couple left, promenade partner home.  Swing.


Wheel and Deal — 2

The other version of Wheel and Deal has the two couples doing slightly different moves.  And this time you won't hear me saying “Wheel and Deal to face”, because you don't end up facing the couple you're working with.

Heads lead right and circle to a line.  Pass through — don't turn round, just join up hands again.  You're in the starting position for this version of Wheel and Deal.  Let go in the middle, and the left-hand couple take a step forward.  Now, once again, when you wheel you're not just turning as a couple.  The end people — the outsides, whether they're men or women — are wheeling in, so that the left-hand couple finish directly behind the right-hand couple and you're all facing the opposite way from now.  Go!

You're in double column formation.  Double pass through, first couple go left, next couple go right…  Do you recognise this position?  You should be back in your original lines.

Pass through, Wheel and Deal.

Double pass through, first couple go right, second couple go left.

Now you're on the other side of the line, and we'll try it from here.  A Wheel and Deal shouldn't look like two separate movements; the right-hand couple just take their time with the wheeling in so that the left-hand couple have time to step forward out of their way.  The whole movement should flow smoothly.

Pass through, Wheel and Deal.

Double pass through, first couple left, second couple right.

Pass through, Wheel and Deal.

Double pass through, first couple right, second couple left.

All join hands and circle left six inches.

  “The Bletchingley Square”

  also “Double Dealing”, “The Wrong Side of Town” and “Triple Zero”

  “Ragtime Annie”

Basic 7A: Wheel & Deal from a line.

Honour your partners, corners too; head two couples right and left through.  Side two couples right and left through.

Head ladies chain across.  Side ladies chain to the right.

Allemande left corner, walk past one, swing the next.  [Partner]

Allemande left corner, grand chain, do-si-do, promenade, swing.


Heads lead right and circle to a line.  Lines forward and back.

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Centres pass through, do-si-do the outside two.

Circle left half-way, side men break to form side lines.  [Still with partner.]

Lines forward and back.  [You're on the other end now.]

Pass through, wheel and deal.

Centres right-hand star ¾, allemande left, swing partner [opposite place].

Repeat this section for the sides.


Heads square through 4 hands.  With your corner: star through, pass through, wheel and deal.

Double pass through, first couple left, next couple right, to lines across the hall.  Lines forward and back.  [You're still with your comer.]

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Double pass through, first couple left, next couple right, to lines across the hall.  Lines forward and back.

Centre four, right-hand star.  Allemande left corner, promenade partner.

Repeat this section for the sides.


Improvise a simple break!
These are from unusual positions and will give the dancers a considerable challenge.

Head ladies chain across.  Heads pass through, separate, round one.  [You're now in same-sex pairs.]

Lines forward and back.  Pass through, wheel and deal.

Ladies do-si-do to a wave.  Swing through, pass through, allemande left corner, look for your partner: right and left grand.  [Should be home.]

Sides flutter wheel [or right and left through & ladies chain].

Sides pass through, separate, round one [same sex again].

Lines forward and back, bend the line.  Pass through, wheel and deal.

Men do-si-do to a wave.  Swing through, pass through, allemande left corner, look for your partner: right and left grand, promenade.


Heads forward and back.  Flutter wheel [or right and left through & ladies chain].

Pass through, separate, round two to the end of a line [improper].

Lines forward and back.  Pass through, wheel and deal.

Centres square through 3 hands.  Swing partner, promenade.

Repeat this section for the sides.


Head ladies chain across.  Head ladies chain to the right.

Heads pass through, separate, round two to the end of a line [with partner, improper].

Lines forward and back.  Pass through, wheel and deal.

Middles (heads) pass th rough, everybody star through [lines facing out].

Wheel and Deal, middles pass through, swing partner, etc.


Basic 7B: Wheel and Deal (both formations, + square through only)

Honour your partners, corners there.  Sides face: grand square.  Reverse.  All four ladies chain.  And back.

Heads forward and back.  Sides forward and back.  [Or both R & L through]

Heads right and left through.  Side ladies chain.

Heads lead right, circle to a line.  Forward and back.

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Centres pass through, allemande left corner, promenade partner.


Head ladies chain across.  Sides lead to the right, circle left, side gents break to to lines across.  Lines forward and back.

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Centres square through 3 hands, allemande left, weave the ring, promenade.


Heads forward and back.  Square through 4 hands.  Do-si-so corner.

Veer left, wheel and deal to face that couple.  Dive through, pass through.

Veer left, wheel and deal to face that couple.  Dive through, pass through, allemande left corner, swing partner (home).

Sides repeat, but finish with promenade rather than swing.


Of course, you don't need to be in couples with the man on the left to do a wheel and deal.

Heads forward and back.  Pass through, separate, round one to the middle of a line of four.  Forward eight and back.

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Ladies right-hand star once around.  Allemande left corner, right and left grand.  Do-si-do.  Swing at home.

All four ladies chain.  Sides promenade half-way.  Sides pass through, separate, round one to a line.  Forward and back.

Pass through, U-turn back.  Lines forward and back.

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Men right-hand star once around.

Allemande left corner, swing partner.  Promenade (three-quarters).


Head ladies chain across.  Sides forward and back.  Pass through, separate, round two people to the end of head lines.

“Forward and back — I know how you feel!  Pass through, do the wheel and deal.” Centres pass through, swing your partner.

Sides right and left through.  Side ladies chain.

Heads square through 3 hands (finish facing out), separate, go round two to the end of side lines.  Forward and back.

Pass through, wheel and deal.  Centres pass through, swing partner.


Circle left.  Break that ring with a corner swing.

In to the middle and back.  Gents cross over, swing the opposite lady.

Allemande left new corner, right to this partner, right and left grand.  Meet the one you swung — do-si-do.  Swing your corner.  Promenade.



That's all the figures I want to cover — as I said, there are hundreds more.  Finally a set of breaks I really like.  Technically they're also figures, but they aren't used as part of an improvised sequence: they stand on their own.

Teacup Chain

According to Les Gotcher the Tea-cup chain was originated by a lady in Austin, Texas for an exhibition group.  This lady explained to Les that she had sat up all night working with different coloured tea cups as her couples.  Just about daylight it was completed, she said.  She needed a name for it, so she decided to call it the TEA-CUP CHAIN.

This is a phrased Western Square break figure which takes 16 bars: 32 steps.  It's tricky to call, since different people are doing different things at the same time, but here are the ground rules:

Side men: Ladies will be coming at you from the centre.  Turn them by whichever forearm they give you, and hand them on to the man on your right.

Head men: ladies will be coming at you from your left.  Turn them by whichever forearm they give you, and hand them in to the centre.

Ladies: You're working round the men anti-clockwise — partner, corner, opposite, left-hand man and back to partner — but sometimes you go straight to them and sometimes you turn another lady in the middle first.  You alternate hands, starting right.  On the outside it's with a man, and it's a forearm turn — he will direct you to your right.  In the middle it's with the opposite lady, and it's a hand turn — you want the next man on your right so the turn will be ¾ if it's a right-hand turn, 1¼ if it's a left-hand turn.  And you stop once you've turned your original partner.

I've now defined all the rules, so if I were calling to eight computers I'd just say “Head ladies to the centre for a Teacup Chain” and the whole figure would happen.  But believe it or not, I'd find it boring calling to eight computers — despite the many obvious advantages from my point of view!

So let's take it slowly and calmly.  Please don't get ahead of me!  Everybody left-arm turn your partner, so you know which hand to use next. Men: hand the ladies in the direction you've been given — that's head ladies to the centre, side ladies to the right.  Head ladies right-hand turn ¾ to your corner, and of course the head men are turning their new lady with a right arm and are just about to send them into the centre -that's what a head man's life consists of.  Now side men turn that lady with the forearm she gives you (provided it's the left) and send her to the man on the right for a right arm turn while the ladies in the middle do a left-hand turn one and a bit — remember, you're aiming for the next man to the right — and turn him with the right arm.

You're all with your opposite now, and it's much the same to get the ladies home — except that this time you're using the other arm.

So, head ladies to the centre, side ladies to the right.  Head ladies left-hand turn one and a bit — this time you've got to go further to reach the next man — and head men turn your new lady with a left arm ready to send them into the centre.  Now side men turn that lady with the right forearm and send her to the man on the right for a left arm turn while the ladies in the middle do a right-hand turn ¾ to your original partner — and everybody left-arm turn your partner, or it might be a courtesy turn into a promenade.

Suggested breaks:
Opener:
A1:…; honour partner and corner.  Turn partner with a left arm once around — head ladies to the centre for a Teacup Chain.
A2:
B1:….  meet your partner with a courtesy turn and
B2:Promenade, go all the way round.
Middle Break:
A1:Join hands, in to the middle and back.  All four ladies chain across.
A2:Head ladies to the centre for a Teacup Chain.
B1:
B2:All four ladies chain back.  Join hands, in to the middle and back.
Closer:
A1:Allemande left corner, grand chain.
A2:Meet partner, do-si-do.  Promenade.
B1:Head ladies to the centre for a Teacup Chain.
B2:….  meet your partner with a courtesy turn and honour your partners all.

Double Teacup Chain

Double Teacup ChainThis variant uses a double square: two couples on each side.  When I originally searched the web I found only two references to it, both from Florida.  One from 1960 mentions a display including this figure but gives no details; the other from 1963 has a photo of eight couples in a quadruple star, which doesn't happen in the version I've got — maybe that was part of the figure rather than part of the break.

Since then I've been in correspondence with David Millstone about the Double Teacup Chain, and in November 2016 caller and dance enthusiast Stig Malmo in Denmark was able to find this description of the figure in Les Gotcher's Textbook of American square dancing (1961).  Les was one of the top square dance callers of the 1950's, and he created the figure.  David has put the pages up on the very useful Square Dance History Project website, and you can hear Les calling it to a display team.  This also solves the mystery of the quadruple star — but I'll come to that later!

Side men, you're receiving a lady out of a star in the centre, turning her with whichever arm she gives you, and handing her on to the nearest head man, who may be to your left or to your right.  Head men, you're receiving a lady from your nearest side man, turning her with whichever arm she gives you, and handing her in to the centre for a star.  Again it may help to precede this with everyone doing a left-hand turn with partner.

Four head ladies right-hand star, four side ladies to your head “corner” man for right-hand turn, etc.  Don't rush the turns, since the star ¾ or 1¼ takes longer, but for the ladies' sake you really need to keep the momentum going so that in particular they can flow from the turn on the heads into the star.

It's a good idea to demonstrate and then practise with just head ladies, then just side ladies.  Ladies, it's always the same four ladies in your star, in the same sequence.  Again the men's job is easy, so please send the ladies in the right direction.  I find that the phrasing gets lost towards the end and it can take up to 40 bars (though when practising it with only 4 ladies it fits 32 bars), so I add some fillers at the end to get to the start of the tune for the next figure.  Les Gotcher calls it unphrased, and I'm pleased to note that he still takes 40 bars with a practiced team!

Ladies, your only problem should be who to go to out of the star.  It's always a side man, two men to the right from where you go in, so as before it's right ¾ or left 1¼.  When I called this (successfully) at Chippenham Folk Festival in 2012, three ladies pointed out to me that having worked out the first side man you're going to, you then go to the other side men in anti-clockwise sequence.

Side men look at the second man to your left — he's handing into the star the lady that you'll be taking out.  But Thomas Bending pointed out that the left-hand men are looking in the wrong direction at that point!

I also thought from listening to the recording that Les Gotcher was doing the left-hand star just a quarter rather than once and a quarter — they couldn't possibly be moving that quickly.  But I've changed my mind — he's saying “Heads to the centre and star the route; turn and a quarter (and something I can't make out)” where I would say “turn one and a quarter”.  The star sequence is right ¾, left 1¼, left 1¼, right ¾.

And what about that quadruple star promenade?  Reading the instructions makes it all clear.  He starts with two single squares, does the teacup chain, then joins the two sets together for the double teacup chain.  And then he wants to move them back into their single squares…

Just as everyone gets their original partner back, they will have her by the left hand and will do a courtesy turn.  NOW, with the right arm still around your partner, the side gents will form a LEFT hand star in the center of the big set.  As you form the star, walk by the first couple, and that next couple should be the the couple from your original smaller set, the side ladies will put their right arm around the gent from her square, he will have his right arm around his partner, so we have them in a big “star promenade.”

Move the large star around until you are near your original positions when you were in the smaller squares and move out into place, turning loose with everyone except your own partner.

I wrote a dance called “Tea for Two” for use as a figure to accompany this break, but people said the figure was more difficult than the break so I've now rewritten it; it worked at Chippenham and again at Whitby Folk Week in August 2012.

Tea for Two

Colin Hume, 2012.

A1:Head lines forward and back.  Ladies chain straight up and down — keep this courtesy turn hold.
A2:Side lines forward and back.  Ladies chain straight across.
B1+2:With “corner” couple, do-si-do as a couple 1½ (ladies passing right shoulder) to pass them and face original partner (12 steps).  With this couple, left-shoulder do-si-do as a couple 1½ (men passing left shoulder) to pass them (12 steps).  Allemande left the next (8 steps).
C1:Come back to partner and swing, then face in or out (facing the one you were promenading with) in a circle of four.  Circle left half-way; outside men (original right-hand men) break to head or side lines — the other kind from where you started!
C2:In to the middle and back.  And again.
D1:All four head ladies chain. All four side ladies chain.
D2:Individually face new corner person and do-si-do.  New partner left-arm turn.
Original heads are now sides, and on the other end of the line, with a new partner.  But the same four ladies are still working together.

Alternating Teacup Chain

Chuck McDowell, 1965.

In this variant everyone goes the circuit instead of the ladies visiting all the positions and the men just acting as posts.

It starts off like a regular Teacup Chain — the head ladies go into the centre while the side ladies get passed to the head gent.  However, when you get to a post position you turn an extra half, stay there and send that post person to the next position.  When the next person comes, you turn them, leave them there and move on.

The men are chasing their partner, the ladies are chasing their corner, and these are the only people you turn on the outside, so when you come out of the turn in the middle you always know who you're going to.

It takes a lot longer than the regular teacup chain.  If you were to phrase it to the music, I'd say each turn would take 8 steps and the whole sequence would be 48 bars, but I imagine MWSD callers would just watch the dancers and call to them, so the rest of this paragraph may not be true!  When I call this break I might make it up to 64 bars, for instance by adding circle left, circle right, in to the middle and back twice.  The problem is that some of the turns can be done in less than eight steps and there's a tendency to get ahead of the other dancers, particularly when the heads are doing a ¾ turn and the side men aren't doing anything (because the other ladies are turning in the middle).  When I tried this out with a picked set of 16 dancers, some of them still didn't believe every move takes 8 steps.  In any four bar phrase, two of the following three things are happening (just as in a regular Teacup Chain): Turning at the head, Turning at the side, Turning in the middle.  This means that at both the sides and the heads there are times when there's a person on their own doing nothing for a whole eight beats — and that seems to be a very challenging move!  Also it's very tempting to rush a right-hand turn ¾ in the middle, then be early for the turn on the sides, then panic.  Some head men felt that having received a lady from their left for a right-hand turn ¾ it worked better to turn 1¾ rather than slow it down — see what you think.  Barbara Shaffer (excellent English and International dancer) said it was the first time in her life she'd ever had to count in a dance!  Thomas Bending (dancer, caller, musician and mathematician) pointed out that the heads always do a right-hand turn in the middle and the sides always do a left-hand turn in the middle, so it's only the sides who have to push round the turn 1¼.

Island Chain

This is a break worked out by Island Squares Club, Long Island, New York, who thought they were remembering a Teacup Chain they had recently been taught by a visiting caller.

A1:Head ladies wheel chain (right-hand turn once around before chaining to opposite man) while side ladies right-forearm turn corner then back to partner for a courtesy turn (so everyone is doing a courtesy turn at the same time).  [There's lots of time for all this — use the full 8 bars.]
A2:Repeat for sides.  [All now with opposite]
B1/2:All that again.

Men — don't get complacent — there are ladies coming at you from two directions.  As soon as you've chained a lady in, your corner will be coming at you for a right-arm turn: you've got to send her back where she came from and then receive the opposite lady from the chain.  At the end of the courtesy turn with her, send her off to your right and expect her back soon.

Ladies — be positive.  At the end of the chain, go to your corner and do a right-arm turn with him, whether he's willing or not, then back to your current partner for a courtesy turn, straight into the next chain.