If you've ever looked at the original Playford notation, or indeed most books of dances from the 17th and 18th century, you will be aware that they are in need of interpretation (or reconstruction, as they say in the States).  The instructions are very condensed, with lots of errors, probably intended as a quick reminder to people who already knew the dances.  Playford says “Sides all” and everybody knew what he meant; now we discuss it for hours.

Graham Christian objects to “Playford says”, since Playford was just the publisher, and the same is true of Johnson, Thompson, Young, etc.  There's no evidence that these people edited or even compiled their books; they just published them.  In some cases we do know more: Kynaston was the editor (and possibly the composer); Walsh was the publisher.  And certainly if Playford were publishing a book by Purcell I would say “Purcell says” rather than “Playford says”.  But we don't know who contributed the dances or edited them; the only name we have is Playford so that's what I use.  I could say “The instructions in Playford's book say”, but that seems unnecessarily wordy.

My book Playford with a Difference, Volume 1 contains a number of my interpretations, together with my reasoning behind them.  There are dances which I've interpreted since that was published, and I'll be putting most of them on this page rather than publishing a Volume 2.  There are also a few where I've done very little in the way of interpretation but still feel it's worthwhile publishing them here.

You can find various Playford originals online.

You may find the last two easier because they're written in modern letters, but they aren't necessarily accurate!

You can also find originals of other publishers' books:

My Rules for Dance Interpretation
  1. The dance must fit the music.
  2. You must know how long standard figures take.  It's a common mistake to squash too much dance into a phrase of music.  Start by assuming that a cast is 8 steps, not 4.  It helps to be able to read music.
  3. Be aware of the different groups of standard figures, and keep in the style — there's a lot of difference between early Playford and the Apted book (The Fandango, The Bishop, The Shrewsbury Lasses).
  4. Be aware that instructions are usually given to the first man or the first couple.  In a triple minor, the twos and (particularly) threes do very little.
  5. “Cross over” always means “Cross and cast”.  Many dance interpreters didn't know this — here are some examples which I have interpreted and I'm sure there are lots more.  “Nampwich Fair”, “Nine Elms”, “The Nobles of Betly”, “Dick's Maggot” in Playford with a Difference, Volume 1.  “Draw Cupid Draw”, “Irish Lamentation”, “Mr Beveridge's Maggot”, “The Punch-Bowl”, “Whimbleton House” on this web page.  If you find a counter-example, please Contact me with full details.
  6. Follow the spirit rather than the letter of the original wording.  I realise this is controversial — it gives you the licence to do virtually anything — but I really think this is what makes a good interpretation.  Sharp didn't do this — he stuck to the letter whenever possible — and in my opinion that gave him a lot of problems.

I've been asked to justify my assertion that “Cross over” always means “Cross and cast”.  Take a look at the start of “The Collier's Daughter”.

The first Couple cross over and turn in the second Couple's Place  .   And then cross over and turn in the third Couple's Place  : 

There's no mention of casting, but they must get to the next place somehow — either by casting round the other couple or by crossing through them — and I think in the latter case the instructions would have said so.

Or look at “St Albans”.  It seems clear that the first half of the figure leaves people where they started.  For the B-music we have:

Then cross over and Figure, the 2. Man lead to the wall, and back again, the 2 Wo. do the same at the same time, then all Hands quite round  : 

Assuming that “2. Man” is a misprint for “2. Men”, the leading out and back and the circle left do not involve any change of position.  “Figure” means “Figure of eight” or “Half figure of eight” and in this case it must be a half figure to get the ones back on their own side.  So “Cross over” must be the progressive move, which therefore means “cross and cast”.

Or look at “Portsmouth”.

The First Man Hay with the first and second Woman, the first Woman do the same with the first and second Man; then the first Couple cross over and Figure inn; then Right and Left quite round.

The heys in A1 and A2 leave people where they started.  “Figure inn” again means a half figure eight, and “Right and Left quite round” also leaves people where they started the move.  The only place for a progression is the “cross over”.

Thomas Wilson in “An analysis of country dancing” (1811) gives a diagram showing “Cross over one couple” and “Cross over two couples”.

Nicholas Dukes in “A Concise & Easy Method of Learning the Figuring Part of Country Dances”, published in London in 1752, has a diagram on page 4 of “To cross over and half figure” which shows the ones crossing, looping down below the twos and then doing a half figure eight up through them, finishing in the second couple's place.

I have run workshops on Dance Interpretation at Festivals and Dance Weeks in England and the States — if you'd like one please let me know.

See also my notes on Interpreting dance instructions.

Bobbing Joe        Bobbing Joe: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 1st Edition, 1651: John Playford.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2013.
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

Leade up forwards and back  .  That againe  : Set and turn S.  .  That againe  : 
First Cu. slippe down between the 2. they slipping up  .  then they slippe downe  .  hands and go round  : The first two men snap their fingers and change places  .  Your We. as much  :  Doe these two changes to the last, the rest following.
Sides all  .  That againe  : Set and turn S.  .  That againe  : 
First two on each side, hands and go back, meet againe  .  Cast off and come to your places  : First foure change places with your owne  .  Hands and goe halfe round  :  These changes to the last.
Armes all  .  That againe  : Set and turn Single  .  That againe  : 
Men back a D. meet againe  .  We. as much  : First Cu. change with the 2. on the same side  .  Then change with your owne  :  These changes to the last.

The tune is a jig with a 4-bar A and a 4-bar B, presumably both repeated.  The dance appears in all editions of The Dancing Master, though it seems highly unlikely that people would still have been dancing it in 1728 when “Up a double”, “Sides” and “Armes” must have been ancient history.  As I mention in my Connections notes, many of the progressive longways dances from the first edition had the three standard introductions.  We hardly ever dance them now, but I was looking for something different to call at my “Playford for Fun” session at Whitby Folk Week in 2013 and picked on this one.  Playford lays out the instructions so that it is clear which go with the A-music and which the B.  The underlined dots reassure us that there are two A's and two B's except that the line starting “First Cu. slippe down between the 2. they slipping up” has two underlined single dots, but let's assume that's a mistake.  So the first figure starts in an absolutely standard manner: Up a double and back, that again, set and turn single, that again.  The body of the figure starts with a move reminiscent of the “matchboxes” move in the second figure of “Picking of Sticks”: the ones slip down the middle as the twos slip up the outside, then reverse it, and circle left.  The second half needs to progress, and it clearly does.  Playford refers to “first two” or “first foure” because at that time a progressive longways dance was started by just the first two couples, the others watching and joining in as the original top couple reached them.  We might wonder if “Doe these two changes to the last” means that the progressive part is just the B part repeated over and over, with “these two changes” meaning the men changing places and then the women, but I would like to think that you do the body of the figure with each couple in turn, otherwise the progression would be perfunctory indeed.

But what about the timing?  How can we use up 4 bars (8 beats) on “The first two men snap their fingers and change places”?  Sharp contrives this by having the first man snap on the second beat of bar 1, the second man on the second beat of bar 2, then four steps to change places.  But is that really what Playford meant?  Let's see what happens in the other two figures.  The second figure has cross with partner and circle left half-way, which I would expect to be 8 steps.  The third has cross with neighbour and then with partner — again 8 steps.  Sharp gets round this by adding some inventive finger snapping at the start of the second figure, but he still takes 8 steps for the circle half-way in the second figure which seems very slow given the liveliness of the dance and tune.  In the third figure he adds finger snapping before each half of the move, but who's he kidding?  Is it likely that John Playford left all this out?  I know Playford is very concise — Sharp takes three pages to explain the dance — but I don't believe he would have left out so much.  Surely a more likely explanation is that the underlined dots are wrong, and there is only one B.

One other point worth mentioning is that the final figure leaves everyone improper.  I'm assuming throughout the dance that the instructions refer to both couples; I think it was later that the instructions were by default addressed to the first couple.  So the second figure is “cast and lead, lead and cast” rather than just the ones casting and leading back up.  Similarly I believe “Then change with your owne” in the last figure is addressed to the twos as well.  So if we've just danced the first turn of the final figure, the original top couple are now progressed and improper when the figure starts again with “Men back a D.”  I'm guessing that the first man would take the instruction as referring to him, though since he's improper he would be taking hands with the next woman and falling back with her.  For modern use I would start by taking hands four from the top, so everyone except the neutral couples would be improper on alternate turns of the figure.  The other concession to modern taste is that I wouldn't run each figure all the way down the set and back.  Four times through each figure sounds a good compromise, meaning that with an even number of couples everyone will be in at the start of each figure.  Of course if there is a neutral couple at the bottom they can join in the three introductions, just as the whole set would have done in 1651 before the top two couples started the body of each figure.

A final thought is that since Playford wrongly indicated two B's in the body of the figure he may well have the same mistake in the introduction, in which case there should be only one “Set and turn single”.  I'll assume that, if only to make things easier for the musicians!

Bobbing Joe

Format: Longways duple minor

A1 or A2 means two A's to make up an eight-bar phrase.  B1 and B2 are just single 4-bar phrases.

First Figure:
A1:Up a double and back.  That again.
B1:(4 bars): Set and turn single.
A2:Ones give two hands and slip down the middle as the twos slip up the outside; reverse.  Circle left.
B2:(4 bars): Men snap their fingers and change places; women the same.  [Progression.  Do A2 + B2 three more times.]
Second Figure:
A1:Side right.  Side left.
B1:Set and turn single.
A2:Take nearer hand with neighbour and fall back; lead forward.  Ones cast and lead back to place, twos follow.
B2:(4 bars) All cross right shoulder with partner, turn right; circle left half-way.  [Do A2 + B2 three more times.]
Third Figure:
A1:Arm right.  Arm left.
B1:Set and turn single.
A2:Men fall back with neighbour; lead forward.  Women the same.
B2:(4 bars) Cross with neighbour; cross with partner.  [Do A2 + B2 three more times.]

Bulock's Hornpipe        Bulock's Hornpipe: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master Volume 3, 1726: John Young.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2009.
Format: Longways triple minor

Original wording:

The first Cu. lead thro' the 2d. Cu. cast up and cast off  .  The 2d. Cu. do the same  :  First Cu. cross over and half Figure at top  .  Then whole Figure with the 3d. Cu.  :  First Cu. turn all four corners  :  And then cross over quite round all the 4 corners  :  Then first Man Heys on his own side and his Partner Heys on hers at the same time  .  First Cu. leads thro' the 3d. Cu. at bottom and thro' the 2d. Cu. at top and turn his partner  : 

The instructions say that there are five sections, and the music indeed gives five sections of four bars, each repeated.

I would like to look at this in conjunction with Ravenscroft's Hornpipe, another dance from the same edition:

Original wording:

Note: Each Strain is to be Play'd twice, and the Tune twice through.

First cu. lead thro' the 2d. cu. and cast up and cast off  .  The 2d. cu. do the same  :  Then first cu. cross over and half Figure a-top with the 2d. Cu  .  Then whole Figure at the bottom with the 3d cu  :  Then First man turn the 3d. Wo. with his Right-hand, and his Partner the 2d. Man with hers, and her Partner with her Right  .  Then first Wo. turns the 3d. Man with her Right, and the first Man turnes the 2d. Wo. with his Right, and his Partner with his Left  : 

Then the first Man cross over on the outside the 3d. Wo. and his partner cross on the outside of the 2d. Man, and both cast into the 2d. cu. place  .  Then first Wo. cross over on the outside the 3d. Man. and the first Man cross on the outside of the 2d. Wo, and both cast into the 2d. cu. place  :  Then the first Man Heys with the 3d. cu. and the 2d. Wo. Heys with the 2d. cu. a-top  .  Then the Man the same a-top, and the Woman the same at bottom  : Then Right-hand and left quite round with the 2d. cu. a-top  .  Then lead thro' the 3d. and turn your Partner  : 

The instructions to the two dances are quite similar, but Ravenscroft's is more explicit about the instructions and the timing — it says there are three 4-bar phrases each repeated and the whole tune is then repeated, giving 6 x 8 bars for once through the dance.  Bulock's implies that there are five 4-bar phrases each repeated, giving 5 x 8 bars.  Both tunes are in triple-time.  Ravenscroft's appears in Fallibroome 6.

“Bulock” and “Ravenscroft” are both in italics, indicating that these are men's names.

Bulock's Hornpipe

A1: Ones lead through twos and cast up, then cast as twos lead up (12 steps).

A2: Twos repeat with ones.

I originally had “Twos repeat with threes” but I didn't mean that — thanks to Norman Bearon for pointing it out to me!

B1: Ones cross and cast, twos lead up (6 steps).  Ones half figure eight up.

B2: Ones full figure eight down through threes (12 steps).

So far this is identical to Ravenscroft.

C1/2: “First couple turn all four corners” (24 steps).  Ravenscroft's has Ones turn first corner right, partner left (in my opinion, though it actually says right), second corner right, partner left.  Six steps for each sounds reasonable, and though the ones each turn two corners, together they turn all four corners.  Let's go along with that (as Bernard Bentley does).

D1/D2: “And then cross over quite round all the four corners” (24 steps).  Ravenscroft's has “Then the first man cross over on the outside the 3d. Wo. and his partner cross on the outside of the 2d. Man, and both cast into the 2d. Cu. place  .  Then first Wo. cross over on the outside the 3d. Wo. and first Man cross on the outside of the 2d. Man, and both cast into the 2d. Cu. place  :  ” I suggest these are describing the same figure, and again I go along with Bentley: Ones cross, turn right, man round the third lady and man, lady round the second man and lady, back to second place.  Repeat going left, round the other couple.  This time each person really does go round all four corners.

Now the two dances differ significantly.  Bulock's has: “Then first Man Heys on his own side and his Partner Heys on hers at the same time  .  The first Cu. leads thro' the 3d. Cu. at bottom and thro' the 2d. Cu. at top and turn his partner  : 

Hey on the side can be done in twelve steps, though you need to start with the ones going down through the threes to make the following move feasible.  I believed that Lead down, cast up, lead up, cast down could be done in twelve steps, but when we tried it the dancers thought otherwise — and there's no time for a turn.  In fact I think there's a number of dances which glibly throw “and turn” at the end of a set of moves which doesn't allow any time for a turn.  So what do we do?  The usual answer is to leave out the turn, but if we compare with Ravenscroft's we see that the lead up and cast doesn't appear there, so next time I try it I'll leave that out instead.

As with many triple minors, the threes don't do much, so to my mind it's better danced now as a three couple longways.  The only change needed is that the ones turn to the bottom as the threes move up or cast up.

Bulock's Hornpipe

Format: 3 couples longways

Each paragraph is four bars of 3-time: 12 steps.

A1:Ones lead through twos and cast up, then cast as twos lead up.
A2:Twos repeat with ones.
B1:Ones cross and cast, twos lead up.  Half figure eight up.
B2:Ones full figure eight down through threes.
C1:Ones turn first corner right hand, partner left.
C2:Ones turn second corner right hand, partner left.
D1:Ones cross left, turn right, round this couple and back to second place.
D2:Ones cross right, turn left, round the other couple and back to second place.
E1:Ones down through threes: symmetrical reels of three up and down.  (Morris hey except ends don't cast at start)
E2:Ones lead down through threes and cast up.  Ones two-hand turn to bottom, threes cast up.
Modified from triple minor.

Chelsea Reach        Chelsea Reach: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 3rd Edition, 1657: John Playford.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2011, modified 2013.    Format: Square.

Original wording:

Meet all in and fall back, set each to his own  .  Lead up all a Square, fall back and set to your own  :  The first and third Cu. change places with their women while the second and fourth Cu. meet and clap back to back, the first man and 3. wo. meet the second Cu. and the first wo. and 3. man meet the 4. Cu. the first man and and third wo. take hands round with the 2. Cu. and the 1. wo. and 3. man take hands round with the 4. Cu. and go half round, the first man give his right hand to the third wo. whilst the second man gives his right hand to his own wo. the first man gives his left hand to the second man and turn a whole turn, and the third wo. give her left hand to the second wo. and turn a whole turn and then turn your own the first wo. and 3. man do as much to the fourth Cu. all at one time together, and the second and fourth Cu. do the same to the first and third Cu.  : 
Sides all with your own  .  Set to your own  :  That again  :  Men take your we. by both hands and put all back to back, then change places all with your own we. then we. give right hands across and go half way round, whilst the men go on the outside the contrary way till you meet your we. and fall back with your own we. into the contrary place  .  Men do the same as the we. did, whilst the we. go on the outside as the men did, till you come to your places  : 
Arms all with your own, set to your own  .  That again  :  Men take all the co. we. by the hand and lead out, then lead back again, give all right hands to the Co. and left to the next, and right and left till you meet the same again  .  Then lead out again with the same, and give right and left hands till you come to your own places  : 

I thought I'd been calling Cecil Sharp's version for many years, with one change of my own, but people asked me to put my version on the website and when I looked at the original wording I decided to make some other changes.  I then discovered that I wasn't calling Sharp's version of the first figure, but the way I had learnt it from other callers!  The version I learnt is that described in Palmer's Pocket Playford and I believe that's how everybody was doing it when I started dancing.  In fact Sharp admits:

Playford's description of the First Part is so obscure, that the editors would probably have omitted the dance altogether, had it not been such an interesting and beautiful one.

Sharp then gives two interpretations of the first figure, though he says the second is less probable.  Let's see what we make of it.

As always, Playford is scanty with the details.  “Meet all in and fall back” — do we take hands in the circle, or just with partner, or none at all?  And why does he add that word “in”?  Sharp is equally scanty:

All move forward a double and fall back a double to places

and Palmer is even scantier:

Meet, fall back

This sounds as if it means without hands, but why?  It's the introduction to the first figure — the equivalent of “Up a double and back” — so I would at least take my partner's hand.  But these are minor points compared with the next instruction: “Lead up all a Square, fall back”.  Does Playford really mean that the entire square moves up a double towards the presence and back?  To describe such an unusual move in a mere seven words seems so unlikely that I don't believe it.  Sharp and Palmer (and everybody else except, I believe, Ken Sheffield) interpret this as lead out a double with partner and fall back.  I'm happy to go along with this.  Perhaps Playford was addressing the direction of movement to the first man, who does indeed lead up, and the others are expected to make the corresponding adjustment.  It also explains why Playford adds that extra “in” the first time, though I wish he'd said “out” the second time.

I find people are very hesitant about falling back a double after leading out, though they do it confidently when leading in, so I usually point out that they're falling back to where they've just come from and therefore they know there isn't anybody to collide with.

Now we get to the part that baffled Sharp.  Playford is very clear in his instructions, but remember that in Playford's time the square was numbered clockwise rather than the later American anti-clockwise — the twos are on the left of the ones.  So if the ones change places with their partners the first man is headed towards the fours, not the twos.  Sharp suggests that possibly the couples all started improper, though there seems no reason for that, and his second interpretation is the one that everybody uses: instead of the head couples just passing each other by they do (in effect) a gipsy right, moving away from each other at the end to stand facing their corner.  Meanwhile the sides lead in — everybody seems to ignore the word “clap” — and face out, so you can form circles on the side of the set.  Agreed it's not what Playford says, but it does get you all to the right person and there's certainly enough time for it provided the heads finish the gipsy facing away from each other.

Because the first figure is 48 bars (6 lines of music) and the other two are the standard 32 bars, Sharp directed the musicians to play ABABAB…, presumably to make it easier for them.  But that doesn't fit the dance movements at all.  The leading, stepping and honouring are A1, and much the same move must surely be A2.  The same with the second and third figures.  I ask musicians to play AABBBB for the first figure and then AABB for the second and third figures, and although they give me funny looks they usually manage to do what I ask.  I'm pleased to say that Bare Necessities have recorded my version of the music on Volume 5 of their “At Home” CD — Gene Murrow phoned me from the recording studio to check it!  See their full list of CDs.  Playford isn't totally clear with the underlined dots — he suggests that the first figure moves B1-4 are all done in a single B — but you can see that generally he expects two A's and two B's.

Another thing that Sharp standardised was always crossing by the right shoulder.  This is a good general rule, but sometimes it flies in the face of the figure.  In the second figure Playford says: “Men take your we. by both hands and put all back to back, then change places all with your own we. then we. give right hands across…”  Assuming the men are standing on the left, and putting their women in the quickest way, the dancers are moving anti-clockwise.  Sharp doesn't actually say which shoulder to cross by, but when I started dancing everybody taught it as crossing right shoulder, which is an abrupt change of direction in quite a fast figure — it looks and feels awkward.  I believe it's much more natural to cross left shoulder.  Then there's the further complication that the instructions continue with the women doing a right-hand star half-way — but they have just moved to the outside.  Sharp adds that partners change places again, which I'm happy to go along with, but if both of these crosses are by the right shoulder everyone is now facing the wrong way for the next move.  Left shoulder solves everything.  I had been calling it this way for several years when I danced it to Philippe Callens and instead of “Cross left shoulder.  Cross left shoulder again.” he said “Gipsy left”.  I don't know whether he picked up the left shoulder crossing from me — he may well have come up with the idea himself — but using the work “Gipsy” (or “Gypsy” for Americans) is so much clearer and quicker.  In the second part where the women put the men in you're already moving clockwise, so a gipsy right works fine.  Just make sure the dancers keep moving throughout the figure; some people seem to want to stop before the gipsy and there's no time for that.

In the third figure Sharp originally had each man lead his corner out with his right hand to her left (their nearer hands if they are facing out), change hands and lead back, then the woman has to change hands for the grand chain.  In a set of corrections he changed this to leading out right hand in right, falling back, and the right hands are already joined for the chain.  I can't see why he changed his mind, but I followed Sharp for years — I don't change things just to be awkward you know.  On the other hand Playford certainly says “lead back again” whereas in the first figure he says “fall back”, and in 2013 Neil Stuart read these notes and suggested that the lead out with corner should be right hand in right, keep hold and lead back.  This makes a lot of sense, especially as after the first half of the grand chain both men and women are approaching their corner with the right hand, so I'm now changing my version to that.  Agreed, Playford says “give all right hands to the Co. and left to the next, and right and left till you meet the same again” but I think he's just spelling out what we would call a grand chain (grand right and left in American Square terminology) rather than implying that you don't already have right hands joined with your corner.

Chelsea Reach

First Figure:
A1:Lead partner in a double; fall back.  Step right and honour; left.
A2:Lead out; fall back.  Step and honour.
B1:Sides lead in and about turn while heads gipsy right and finish in front of your corner.  In these fours circle left half-way, face up and down (head lines); give right hand to opposite and cross over.
B2:In same fours, left-hand star.  Two-hand turn partner.
B3/4:Heads lead in, sides gipsy right, etc.
Second Figure:
A1:Side right.  Step and honour.
A2:The same left.
B1:Give two hands to partner and men put the ladies into the middle (4 steps); gipsy left with partner, flowing into ladies right-hand star half-way, men round the outside (the other way) half-way and re-form the square (12 steps).
B2:Give two hands to partner and ladies put the men in; gipsy right; men left-hand star half-way, men round the outside (the other way) half-way to meet partner in home position.
Third Figure:
A1:Arm right.  Step and honour.
A2:The same left.
B1:Give corner right hand: lead out; lead back.  Grand chain half-way (skip-change step).
B2:Same, finishing with left hand in partner's to honour.

The Cuckoo        The Cuckoo: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 12th Edition, 1703: Henry Playford.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2010.
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

The Cookow

The first Man goes back to back with the second Woman; then turn Right-hands with her; the first Woman and second Man do the same.  The first couple take both Hands and go half round, and back again; then cross over and half Figure, then all four quite round.  The first strain twice, and the second once, and Repeat.

I originally had this down as Henry Playford 1703, then Michael Barraclough told me it was Walsh, then Les Barclay told me I was right the first time!  Here's the wording from Walsh: Compleat Country Dancing Master 1718-1760.  Playford spells it “Cookow”, Walsh spells it “Cuckow”, and to add to the confusion there is a different dance with a different tune called called The Cuckoo (or Smith's Rant) in Playford 3rd Edition which you can see here with a clearer copy from the 10th edition here.

I can't really claim this as my own interpretation — I picked the dance up many years ago, and the original instructions are so clear that there's only one point I want to question.  But as far as I know the dance hasn't been published in a modern book, and it deserves to be, if only for the terrific tune which has echoes of Handel's “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” and is not one to give to your average band!

There are no repeat marks in the original music, but there's a letter “S” above the start of what I'm calling the C-music which performs the same function.  Assuming that “all four quite round” means circle left, the only unusual phrase is “The first couple take both Hands and go half round, and back again”.  Surely if he'd just meant “two-hand turn” he would have said so.  It certainly sounds like a two-hand turn half-way and then a reverse two-hand turn half-way, which is actually no stranger than Cecil Sharp siding!  I learnt it with both couples doing a two-hand turn all the way but with a slight hesitation half-way to “listen to the cuckoo”, and the version of the music I use has some “cuckoos” added to the original which makes this feasible.  From Francis Carter I picked up the rise on the toes and fall back at this point — it's totally inauthentic but dancers in England enjoy it.

The Cuckoo

A1:First corners back-to-back.  Right-hand turn (skip-change step).
A2:Second corners the same.
B:All two-hand turn partner, half-way, pause to listen to the cuckoo (rise on toes and fall back, in time with music); reverse turn half-way with the same pause.  Ones cross, go below twos who lead up.
C:Ones dance half figure eight up through twos.  Circle left once around (slip-step).
The two-hand turn was originally for the ones only.

Country Bumpkin        Bluebell Polka: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Heathfield Memorials, 1821-1831: Sylvan Harmer.
Interpretation: Colin Hume — Date unknown.

Format: 4 couples longways.   Music: I suggest 4 x 48 bar polkas such as Bluebell Polka.

A1:Top lady bottom man two-hand turn.  Partners same.
A2:Top lady bottom man set moving forward; fall back.  Others same.
B1:Same people gipsy right [or back-to-back].
A3:Ones cross, go below twos.  Cross again, below threes.
A4:Cross again, below fours.  Cross to own side, lead to top.
B2:Ones cast, others follow.  Ones arch at bottom, others up.
Sylvan Harmer (1803-1884) lived in the village of Heathfield in Sussex.  Between 1821 and 1831 he wrote a manuscript which later became the book “Heathfield Memorials” detailing his life there, and in an appendix he gave the instructions of some of the country dances he remembered dancing.  You can see more information at the end of  I was staying with Jan Nuttall who lived in Heathfield and she showed me the book, so I tried my hand at interpreting some of the dances.  Many of them seemed to have far too much in them, and they all had several titles, no doubt depending on which tune was used.  I don't have the original wording to show you (and since copies were selling at £80 each in 1992 I don't plan on buying one), but the dance as I interpreted it has many similarities to “Sir Roger de Coverley”.

There are at least two other dances called “Country Bumpkin” — one by Mike Barraclough is a 5 couple longways having no connection with this one; the other an 8 couple longways in a book called “The Heathfield Dances” by Harold Downing purports to be an interpretation but admits to being mainly spurious.

Damme        Damme: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 10th Ed.,1698: Henry Playford.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2013.
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

All four Sett to your Partners and turn S. and hands four half round  .   All four Sett to your Partners and turn S. and hands four half round into your own places  :   The 2. Man go back to back, the Woman the same at the same time, then right and left with your Partners quite round  .   The 1. cu. go the Figure through into their own places, then right and left with your Partners which brings the 1. cu. into the 2. cu. place  : 

The dance was republished by Walsh in 1718 as “Dampier” with slight differences in the tune.  Heather Clarke, dance historian from Australia, points out that William Dampier was the first Englishman to explore Australia and gave his name to a major port in Western Australia.  He died in 1715, so maybe this is Walsh's acknowledgement of his importance.  Walsh also published “Dam it” around 1735, which has the same tune as Dampier but is a different dance, interpreted by Tom Cook in his book “Again Let's Be Merry” in 1979.  “Damme” is pronounced as two syllables: “Damm-ee”, short for “Damn me” — you can hear it in “H.M.S. Pinafore” when the Captain discovers his daughter is in love with a common sailor.

The music has a 4-bar A and an 8-bar B, both repeated according to the underlined dots in the instructions, and gives every indication of being a dotted hornpipe — the sort of tune you would use for “Nottingham Swing”.  Playford never mentions the steps, but I would not consider a walking step to a tune like this: it needs to be a step-hop or a 1-2-3-hop, the latter covering more ground.

So how do you do a set and turn single to a dotted hornpipe?!  I tried doing the set as 1-2-3-hop to the right, 1-2-3-hop to the left (like RSCDS Strathspey setting) but that only leaves one 1-2-3-hop for the turn single and another for the circle left half-way.  It can be done but it's quite awkward, and anyway I would expect the set to take the same amount of music as the turn single.  John Playford defined only three steps in his first edition:

A Double is foure steps forward or back, closing both feet.
A Single is two steps, closing both feet.

Set and turne single, is a single to one hand, and a single to the other, and turne single.

The “turne single” does not mean a single as defined above; it means “on your own” and is actually a double!

The singles (also called simples) and doubles come from the Brawle (Branle), Basse Dance and Pavan(e) of earlier times.  Indeed the Pavan was built solely on two singles and a double, and there are hopped simples and doubles in some of the Brawles in “Orchesography” by Thoinot Arbeau, published in 1589.  So my suggestion for the set and turn single to this rhythm is: step on the right foot, somewhat out to the right, hop on the right foot, similarly left, then turn clockwise on the spot with a 1-2-3-hop.  The step-hop for the set seems to fit the music well, as this starts with three long notes before the dotted rhythm comes in.  I would use the same footwork but starting on the left foot (step-hop, step-hop, 1-2-3-hop) for the circle left half-way, which means you are ready to step onto the right foor and repeat all this.

I'm sure that “The 2. Man go back to back, the Woman the same at the same time” should read “Men” and “Women” rather than “Man” and “Woman”.  If Playford had wanted the second couple to do a back-to-back with each other he would surely have said so, and it's very rare for the second couple suddenly to take the lead like that.  A back-to-back probably needs four bars, though you could do a 1-2-3-hop forwards and moving right, then fall back on the second 1-2-3-hop.  That leaves four bars for four changes of a circular hey.  I would use two 1-2-3-hops for each half of the back-to-back, though of course you could use step-hop, step-hop, 1-2-3-hop, and probably in Playford's time people would have used both; the steps were not codified and improvisation was encouraged.  For the four changes I think you need 1-2-3-hop for each change.

“The 1. cu. go the Figure through” means a figure eight or half figure eight down through the twos, and “into their own places” means it's a full one.  Can you do that with four bars of 1-2-3-hop?  Certainly you can, if you go for it and make sure the hop is travelling forwards (as in a Strathspey) rather than up and down.  And the final move must be three changes instead of four since the instructions end “which brings the 1. cu. into the 2. cu. place”.  I would still phrase it to the music: one bar for each of the first two changes and two bars for the final change which is in effect half a right-hand turn with partner.


A1:(4 bars): All set to partner (R-hop, L-hop); turn S. (R-2-3-hop).  Circle left half-way (L-hop, R-hop L-2-3-hop).
A2:All that again.
B1:Back-to-back neighbour (two steps forward, two back).  Four changes of a circular hey, one step per change.
B2:Ones full figure eight down through twos — very fast.  Three changes of a circular hey.
The A section is all danced with a step-hop, step-hop, 1-2-3-hop; the B section is all danced with a 1-2-3-hop.

Draw Cupid Draw        Draw Cupid Draw: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master Volume 2, 1710: John Young.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2007.
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

The first Couple go the whole Figure of Eight with the second Couple, and then cross over and turn  .   Then the other Couple do the same  :   then cross over and Back to Back, then Right and Left quite round.

The instructions have a repeat for A, and the A and B music are each 16 bars, giving an unusually long 64 bar figure.

It looks straightforward, but there are at least three other interpretations.  Bob Brand has done one but he didn't realise that “cross over” means “cross and cast” and he did some unusual stuff in the second part.  Graham Christian has a much more unlikely version in CDSS News — he admitted that this was a very loose interpretation and if he looked at it now he would come up with something different.  Andrew Shaw likes to keep everyone moving, so he has double figure eights and both couples doing the turns both times, which I think spoils the dance.  It is quite clear that for the first eight bars the ones are doing the figure and the twos are watching them (and possibly learning the figure).  In the second eight bars the twos do exactly the same.  We seem to be losing the concept of watching the active couple — if we're not moving we think we're not part of the dance.

I don't think there's much doubt what John Young intended for the first half.  The ones do a full figure of eight down through the twos.  The ones cross and cast, twos moving up, and the ones two-hand turn.  There's certainly enough music for a turn all the way, leaving the ones improper.  It's possible that it should be 1½ to finish proper; we'll reserve judgement until we see what happens later.  The twos do the same, finishing with the ones above the twos, probably with both couples improper.

The ones again cross and cast, again with the twos moving up, then the ones do a back-to-back, so they are below the twos on their original side — just where you would expect them to finish the dance.  And then four changes of a circular hey.  That's fine for the ones, but the twos are still improper.  And if we decided the turn in the first half was 1½, we would now have the twos proper but the ones improper, so that won't help.

Andrew has the twos doing a right-hand turn half-way as they move up, but this strikes me as very unlikely (and they sometimes forget to do it).  Remember the basic principle: the twos (and threes, for a triple minor) are only there to help the ones as needed.  See the comments on the section Adapting Triple Minor Dances.  So my suggestion is that the ones do four changes but the twos only join in as needed, in other words starting with the second change.  Is it right?  I don't know.  Is it more likely than other suggestions?  I'll leave you to decide!

Draw Cupid Draw

Format: Longways duple minor.

A1:Ones full figure eight through the twos.
 Ones cross and cast; twos lead up.  Ones two-hand turn.
A2:Twos the same, all finishing improper.
B:Ones cross and cast; twos lead up.  Ones back-to-back.
 Ones do four changes of a circular hey — twos don't join in until the second change.

Easter Thursday        Easter Thursday: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Caledonian Country Dances, 3rd Ed., c. 1733: John Johnson.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, around 1995
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

The Sailor's Delight

The 1. cu. back to back with the 2. cu, and back to back with their own Partners.  This to the first Strain played once.  The 1. cu. turn the 2. cu. and turn their own.  This to the first Strain played twice.  Meet and set all four, turn S. and clap hands all four, go quite round.  This to the second Strain played once.  The 1. cu. go the Figure through the 2. cu, and cross over and turn their own Partners.  This to the second Strain played twice.

Katherine Street

The first Couple Back to Back with the second Couple, and then with their partners.  This to the first Strain play'd once.  The first Couple turn the second Couple, then turn their own.  This to the first Strain play'd twice.  Meet all four and Sette, then turn single and clap Hands, all four going quite round.  This to the last Strain play'd once.  The first Couple go the figure through the second Couple, and cross over and turn their own Partners.  This to the last Strain play'd twice.

Sadler's Wells

The 1st cu. back to back with the 2d cu. and back to back with their own Partners  .   The 1st cu turn the second cu. and turn their own Partners  :   Meet and sett, all four turn single and clap hands, all four go quite round  .   The 1st cu. go the Figure thro' the 2d cu. and cross over, and turn their own partners  : 

Easter Thursday

I don't have the wording for the A part to hand, but I know it's very similar to the previous two.  Here's the B part:

Meet all four and sett, then turn single and clap hands all four going quite round  .   Then the 1st Cu. go the figure thro' the 2nd Cu. and cross over and turn their own partners  : 

I know of four dances with exactly the same figures — this happened quite a lot in the eighteenth century.  The first The Sailor's Delight from the Dancing Master of 1696.  The second is Sadler's Well from the Dancing Master Volume 3, 17th Edition of 1728.  The third is Katherine Street from the Dancing Master volume 2, around 1710.  Charles Bolton has a version in “Retreads, Volume 7”, though he has cut down the action for the ones and introduced more for the twos He also dances it improper.  The fourth is Easter Thursday, and it's even possible that the figures were put to this tune by mistake — the tune is in 3-time.  Bernard Bentley, who wrote the “Fallibroome” series of books, is always very honest about what he's added or left out, unlike some other dance interpreters.  In this one he says, NOTE.- B1 a clap and hands four has been omitted.  When you listen to the A music it has perfectly clear phrasing — it's obviously three phrases of two bars each.  Six steps, six steps, six steps.  But the instructions in Fallibroome 5 just say “Neighbours back to back.  Partners back to back”.  And that's how a lot of callers call it — because they haven't thought it through.  I can only see two choices.  You can do one back-to-back in one phrase of the music — 6 steps — and the other in two phrases — twelve steps.  Or you can do what I recommend, which is to take 9 steps for each back-to-back and accept the fact that the second one starts in the middle of a musical phrase.  Here's where it's no use the caller saying “The music will tell you” — it won't!

You could argue that the instructions are addressed to the first couple, so only they should do the second back-to-back and the second turn, and indeed the final turn.  Or you could make the case that throughout the instructions the word is “partners” rather than “partner” meaning that both couples should participate.  I'm sticking with Bernard Bentley; we're interpreting these dances for present day dancers and in this case I have no hesitation in letting both couples move.  There are other cases where I don't feel that way, as you will see when reading through this page.

In B1 Bernard Bentley thought he couldn't fit it all in, so he left out the circle and instead put in a balance forward and back, followed by a set.  I'm sure we can fit it all in, provided you go from the turn single immediately into the circle left.  Four bars is twelve beats — that's four beats for the turn single and eight beats for the circle — standard timing.  In fact I've suggested three and nine in my interpretation, since the music is in threes, but there's really no difference.  As usual, “cross over” means “cross and cast”.  The half figure eight and the cross and cast are much tighter in “Sadler's Wells” and “Katherine Street” — 4 steps for each rather than 6 — so I prefer Easter Thursday (and I like the tune too).

Since you're dancing a lot with your neighbour in the A part, I choose to do this with the ones improper.

Twenty years latter I learnt that Carl Wittman had produced much the same version, though with the final turn for the ones only, except that he has two beats rest after the clap and then allows only six steps for the circle which seems unnecessarily tight to me.

Easter Thursday

Format: Longways duple minor Improper       Note: the tune is in 3-time.

A1:(6 bars:) Back-to-back neighbour (9 steps).  Back-to-back partner.
A2:Two-hand turn neighbour (9 steps).  Two-hand turn partner.
B1:(6 bars): All set moving forward (RLR, LRL); Turn single (RLR) clapping on first beat (3 steps), circle left (9 steps).
B2:Ones half figure eight down (6 steps); ones cross and go below the twos who lead up (6 steps); all two-hand turn partner (6 steps).

Fain I Would        Fain I Would: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 1st Edition, 1651: John Playford.
Format: Square

Original wording:

Lead all out, lead all in again 1. man and 4. Wo. the 1. Wo. and 2. man change places by both hands, the other foure doing the like, then the 1.  man and 1. Wo. the 2. and 4. Wo. change by both hands, the other foure doing the like  .  Then each man hands with the Wo. on his left hand, lead out and in as before, changing places, back again as before  : 

The 1. and 3. Cu. meet, the 2. and 4. falling back, the 1. and 3. Cu. fall back, foure a breast, the 2. man and 4. Wo with the 1. Cu. the 4. man and 2.  Wo. with the 3. the 1. man and third Wo. the 3. man and 1. Wo armes and fall into the 4. and 2. places, whilst the 2. man and 4. Wo. the 4. man and 2. Wo. armes behinde, and fall into the 1. and 3. places  .  The other as much  :  As in Oxford.

Sides and change places as before  .  Sides againe, and change places, back againe.

The 1. and 3. Cu cast off, and come into you places all again, the 4. Wo. following the 1. man, the 2. man the 1. Wo. the 2. Wo. the 3. man, the 4. man the 3. Wo. the upermost and lowermost foure, hands round, to your places  .  The 2. and 4. Cu. cast off, and the other follow, to your places, foure and foure of each side, hands round, to your places.

Armes and change as you sided  .  That againe, to your places  : 

The 1. and 3. Cu. meet, turn back to back, the other foure hands about them, and go round to the right, and fall into each others places, the 2. man and 4. Wo. into the 1. place, the 4. man and 2. Wo into the 3. place, the 1. man and 3. Wo. into the 4. place, the 3. man and 1. Wo. into the 2. place  .  The other foure as much  : 

If you remember that Playford numbering is clockwise — the twos on the left of the ones — you may well struggle with this until you notice that in the diagram all four couples are improper.  I've no idea why, and as Cecil Sharp says,

For simplicity's sake this unusual disposition has not been adhered to in the text, the alteration making no difference to the form of the dance.

I'm not claiming any of this interpretation is unique to me, but I want to explain how I teach it.  If you've never danced it and you go to the Cecil Sharp book (or even worse, the Playford original above), you're liable to be totally bemused by all the numbers:

First man and first woman, third man and third woman, second man and fourth woman, and second woman and first man, change places in like manner.

I call it without mention of numbers and with hardly any mention of sex, and I use the words “corner” and “shadow”.  Corner is well known from American Square, and it's a useful term so why not use it.  Shadow comes from American Contra, and refers to a person other than your partner whom you meet repeatedly during the dance.  Some American callers use the phrase “trail buddy”, but apart from being two words rather than one it smacks too much of the Wild West — “Howdy stranger, guess you 'n' me gonna be trail buddies” — so I don't use it.

I start by pointing out that you have three important people in this dance.  The first of course is your partner.  The second is your shadow, who is directly opposite you; you do half the dance with your partner and the other half with your shadow.  The third is your corner, who manages to stay in position even when you switch between partner and shadow.  I think it's a very clever and beautiful dance, and it appeals to my mathematical mind.

In the introduction to the first figure, you will see that Playford explains the move for the top half of the set and then says “the other foure doing the like”.  I'm confident that he's missed out the word “man” and it should say “the 2. man and 4. Wo.” rather than “the 2. and 4. Wo.”.

The two-hand turns in each of the three introductions are described by Playford as “change places by both hands”, but I've always seen it done as two-hand turn into side lines, man on the left — to be too precise, it's three eighths for the head men and five eighths for the side men.  You don't actually take hands in side lines, but it's a useful reference point.  Then you two-hand turn the one in front of you half-way (heads with partner, sides with shadow, though I wouldn't bother to say that), and the middles of the lines need to fall back from each other — I usually say “push back” to produce a more positive movement — to reform the square, with your shadow.  If you did the first turn literally as a turn half-way there would be great confusion about who “the one in front of you” was, and the heads now in side place would find it very difficult to do the second turn in four steps.

In the main part of the first figure, some people seem to have great difficulty finding their shadow — some automatically make a grab for their partner as a safe option.  And a lot of men can't cope with finishing the arm right on the right of the lady!

In the main part of the second figure when the heads are casting I ask people to imagine a brick wall across the centre of the set, so the sides will have nothing to do with their partner.  It doesn't always work: some people will still walk through the wall.  When the sides are casting, the wall is up and down the centre of the set, and it's the heads who have nothing to do with their partner.  Doing a circle left all the way and falling back to home place requires giving some weight and making good circles; you can't just drift through it.  I prefer the casting people to keep turning in the same direction to get into the circles; it's very tempting for the man to suddenly reverse directions to get into the circle.  Of course Playford doesn't specify any of these details, so it's just my opinion, but I think it looks and feels better to keep moving smoothly rather than turn back on yourself.

By the third introduction people have got the hang of things, and there's a great temptation to spiral straight off from the arming into the two-hand turn with corner.  I don't like this blurring of the edges — you should finish the arming facing your partner, then face your corner — which is why I've put in an acknowledgement at this point.

The main part of the third figure is where I disagree with Sharp.  Playford says: “The 1. and 3. Cu. meet, turn back to back, the other foure hands about them, and go round to the right…” Sharp has the heads doing a back-ring while the sides circle round them, and if you've ever tried that in Playford costume you will agree that it's very awkward if not impossible.  I suggest that “and go round” refers to the outsides; the people in the middle just face out and stand still.  I imagine the circle is to the right because Playford starts with the men on the right of their partners and it's the man leading his partner into the circle.  Since I've followed Sharp in having the men on the left, I follow him in making it a circle left.  I think the timing on this needs to be quite precise: four steps for the heads to lead in and face out; eight steps for the sides to circle left, let go of their partner and finish in head place with their shadow improper; four steps for the middles to lead their shadow out to side place and face in improper.  I know this is disorientating (even more so with a back ring) and I try to remember to tell people that they will finish the move where their corner is now standing, but some people still can't cope with it, or perhaps can't cope with letting go of their partner.

Yes, I know I've written an enormous amount about this dance, but that's because I think it's worthwhile spending the time walking it through because it's such a beautiful and satisfying dance.  Why not try it?!

Fain I Would

First Figure:
A1:Lead partner out a double; change hands and lead back.  Two-hand corner enough to form side lines (man on left of lady); two-hand turn the one you're facing, half-way, middles fall back to reform square (all now with Shadow).
A2:Lead shadow out a double; change hands and lead back.  Two-hand (your same) corner enough to form side lines (man on left of lady); two-hand turn the one you're facing, half-way, middles fall back to reform square (all home).
B1:Heads lead in, sides fall back slightly and face partner; pick up your corner and fall back in head lines.  All arm right with Shadow, (who is either in front of you or on the other end of your line) with the middles moving out to finish improper in a square.
B2:Same with new heads, all arming left with partner.
Second Figure:
A1/2:As first figure, but siding into line right shoulder to right with partner and left shoulder to left with shadow.
B1:Heads face partner and cast out, sides follow your corner, to place.  Circle 4 top and bottom, to place.
B2:Sides cast, heads follow your corner, to place.  Circle 4 on each side, to place.
Third Figure:
A:As first figure, but arming right and left.  Acknowledge before leaving.
B1:Heads lead in and face out; sides circle left and hang on to Shadow to end in head place (4 bars); middles lead out to side place.  [All finish improper, in corner's place.]
B2:New heads lead in; sides circle, all finishing home.

There's a video of a version with the couples starting improper at  They use a reverse two-hand turn half-way with opposite, which is a complete change of momentum and strikes me as unnecessarily awkward given that there is no justification for it in Playford's original wording.  They use a variant of Cecil Sharp siding, first passing right then left, and they have changed the circles so that after the heads casting the circles are on the side and vice versa.  They have dispensed with the back-ring, and they do the circles in the third figure to the right, despite being improper.  They also dance it too fast for my liking: I think of it as a stately dance and tune.

Hobb's Wedding        Hobb's Wedding: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 17th Edition Volume 1, 1721: John Young.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2007.
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

Hobb's Wedding: A Kissing Dance in the Country Wake

The 1. cu. cast off half way, the 2. cross over at the same time, then lead up and turn from each other, the Man to the Right and the Wo. to the Left  .  Then meet the 1. cu. the Wo. the man, and the Man the Wo. then the 1 Man turn the 2. Wo. Left-hands round, the 2. Man doing the same with the 1. Wo. till they come all on a-row with their Left shoulders to each other, the Men with their faces down, and the We. with theirs up  :  Then pass by till you come to a Square, the Men with their faces down, and the We. with theirs up, then all turn S. to the Left-hand with their faces to each other; then Right and Left three times, the 1. Man beginning with the 2. Wo and the 2. Man with the 1. Wo  .  The 1. Man pulls the 2. Wo. back, and the 2. Man puts the 1. Wo. from him till the 2. cu. comes back to back, each Man kissing the contrary Wo. then the 1. cu. cast off, the Man to the Left-hand and the Wo. to the Right, the 2. cu. casting up both to the Right-hand till they come in their proper places.

The Country Wake (1696) was a comedy by Thomas Doggett, staged at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre and later revived by Cibber in 1711.  Dogget originally played the part of Young Hobb himself.

The tune is a jig: four bars for each A and eight bars for the B.  The instructions imply that each is to be repeated, giving a 24-bar dance.  The instructions give lots of detail and reassurance to an interpreter, but what are we to make of “cast off half way”?  Presumably the ones cast off but finish level with the twos rather than below them.  It will need to be a wide cast, or a meet, move up and then cast, as it takes the 4 bar A1, during which the twos turn half-way, lead up (presumably not very far, to meet the ones) and turn away from each other to face out to the ones.  A2 is left-hand turn neighbour, and indeed once around will leave the men facing down and the women facing up as required.  So B1 starts by passing neighbour left shoulder so that the women are above the men, then turn single left (presumably half-way) to face neighbour up and down the set.  Assuming “Right and Left three times” means three changes of a circular hey, this will be up and down the set, again finishing with the women above the men.  We could allow four steps for the pass through and turn round, and four steps for each of the three changes.  B2 starts apparently with a quarter poussette to bring the four people into a colume up and down the set — crowded but possible — four steps for that and four beats for the kiss.  But now comes the progression.  At the moment the first man is at the very bottom and his partner is at the very top.  She can cast off to her right hand, though it seems somewhat forced given that she is already facing down, but he can't cast off anywhere — he needs to cast up.  I've given this a lot of thought, it seems to me that the column needs to be across the hall rather than up and down, with everyone proper.  So suppose after the pass through at the start of B1 we have the dancers looping one place to their right (clockwise) rather than turning single to their left.  I know that's not what it says, but just consider it.  This puts everyone proper with the second man and first woman above.  The three changes will now be across the set as normal, bringing the other two to the top, and the quarter poussette is also across.  Now indeed the first couple can cast off, the man left shoulder and the woman right shoulder, though they have eight steps and not very far to go — perhaps an invitation to linger a little longer on the kiss.  The twos somehow need to cross over and move up, and at the moment they're facing out.  That's why we get the odd instruction “the 2. cu. casting up both to the Right-hand till they come in their proper places”.  If they both pull their right shoulders back, the woman can move up as she crosses to her own side while the man starts by turning down and then moving up on his own side.  It gets them to the right place, but it is what John Young meant?  I think it may well be.  How else could he have described it, without using a lot more words?

The timing of B1 is now not so obvious.  Four steps to pass through, turn left and move one quarter round?  Or should we take eight steps for this and then surge into life to dance the three changes in eight steps as in Indian Queen?  I think I prefer the latter — but try it both ways and see what you think.

But the basic problem is that the wording is so precise: “all turn S. to the Left-hand with their faces to each other”, and yet I need people to loop to their right.  As I've said before, I don't know all the answers!

Hobb's Wedding

Format: Longways duple minor.  Interpretation: Colin Hume, 2007.

A1:(4 bars)   Ones meet and then cast to finish outside the twos (8 steps) while twos 2-hand turn half, lead up, turn out to face opposite-sex neighbour.
A2:Left-hand turn neighbour once around, finishing with men facing down, ladies facing up.
B1:Pass through left shoulder; loop right, move round a place clockwise.  Face neighbour across the set: dance three changes of a circular hey with hands.
B2:First man pull, second man push until twos are back to back in the middle; kiss neighbour.  Ones cast to progressed place, second lady move up and cross to own side, second man pull right shoulder back and follow her to progressed place.

I've learnt that you don't call kissing dances in the States — they love all that eye contact, but kissing is going too far.  In England I often say that it's up to the ladies how and where they receive the kiss — they could just offer their hand.

Irish Lamentation        Irish Lamentation: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: 3rd Book of The Complete Dancing Master, c.1735: Walsh.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 1995.
Format: Longways duple minor

Original wording:

First Man dances the Minuet Step to the 2d Wo. & turns her  .   the 2d Man the same to the 1st Wo  :   the 1st Cu. cast down & up again then cross over and half Figure  .   then right hand and left quite round and turn your Partner.

I heard the tune on Bare Necessities' “Take a Dance” album and loved it.  The notes didn't say where the modern interpretations were found, so I went to Cecil Sharp House, studied the original wording and produced my version.  Then I discovered that Tom Cook had reconstructed it in “Again Let's Be Merry” (1979).

Let's look at Tom's version.

A1Take hands four.  All “step-set” (left foot to the left, cross right foot over and beyond left foot, transfer weight back onto left foot — same to right) twice, then first man and second woman turn, returning to places.
A2Again take hands four and “step-set” as in A1, then the other two dancers turn.
B1 1‑4All move up the set and face their own wall (that is, half turn single, men to left, women to right).  Neighbours take inside hand and first couple move round outside second couple in as “assisted” cast, all to progressed places.
     5‑8All move down the set and face their own wall.  Neighbours again take inside hand and first couple move round outside second couple in an “assisted” cast up, all to original places.
   9‑16First couple cross and cast down, then go half figure eight up through second couple (who lead up) to progressed places.
B2 1‑8First and second couples, partners facing, circular hey taking hands, four changes.
   9‑16First and second couples dance round each other, returning to progressed places (ballroom hold is suggested).

Tom is at pains to point out that the dance isn't a waltz, and that the basic rhythm should be six beats long not three, but I defy anyone to take ballroom hold and dance round the other couple to this music without waltzing.

So, two questions:

The first is partly a matter of opinion.  I don't like the “assisted” cast business at all; it's fussy and I don't see the point.  And I don't like the anachronistic “waltz round”.  To answer the second, let's look at the original wording.

Most English Folk dancers couldn't do a minuet step (and wouldn't want to), so Tom has replaced it with his “step-setting”.  Yes, but surely that loses the point that it should be just the first corners involved; the second corners have their chance in A2.  I agree with getting rid of the minuet step, but what could the first corners do in four bars before their two-hand turn?  The obvious choice is set and turn single — in fact the setting in 3-time turns out to be similar to Tom's step-setting, though I wouldn't want to start it on the left foot.  You could say that my way is just as “wrong” as Tom's, but I think it's more in keeping with the original.

By the way, I have actually taught the entire dance with a minuet step; see the page on Country Dance Minuet.

B1 starts “the 1st Cu. cast down & up again” — just as you would in the English traditional dance “Soldiers' Joy” or the American contra “Chorus Jig”.  In fact because there are three steps to the bar you would get further than in those dances; it's a good strong positive movement.  I suppose Tom thought this was boring for the twos, so he's got the twos turning out and helping the ones along — I think it destroys the flow of the movement.  Ken Sheffield does the same in “Guardian Angels” where the ones cross and cast, cross and cast — I don't like that either.  So let's do it as the original obviously intended.

“Cross over” practically always means “cross over and cast down a place”, and by implication we're still talking to the ones, so a half figure eight up will bring them to their progressed place proper — no problems with that.  The underlined dot says that this is once through the 16-bar B-music, which all fits fine.  But what about the second B?  “then right and left quite round and turn your Partner”.  Four changes of a circular hey at three steps per change is four bars, and a turn is no more than four bars (12 steps) — total 8 bars.  We can slow down the four changes by allowing six steps per hand, but this still gives us 8 bars (24 steps) for “and turn your Partner”.  This is where Tom puts in the waltz around (and admittedly you are “turning” with your partner) — but that's so out of character!  My suggestion is a right-hand turn and a left-hand turn.  There's still a lot of music to fill up — four bars (twelve steps) for each turn, but I think it works.

I wrote to Tom and asked him what he thought of my version — that's something I couldn't do with Cecil Sharp.  He said in his reply: “…I have come to regret my 9-16 suggestion [that's the dance around] …  and have experimented with a whole-poussette + quarter-turns…  Your suggestion is much simpler, and of course is just as good.”  He preferred the fussy bit because he likes people to take hands when the music allows — which I totally agree with, but I don't think the music does allow this, because the ones should be moving well down the hall.  He didn't object to the set and turn single as such, but he felt you needed to be moving to the right immediately before the two-hand turn — that's why he starts the step-setting to the left.

Nicholas Broadbridge has a version condensed to a single B.  Perhaps he decided there wasn't enough going on in B2, so instead of the waltz around or the slow right- and left-hand turns he's squashed the whole thing together — instead of the ones doing their long cast down the outside and back, he has a short cast going immediately into a figure eight up.  But can you really justify that when you look at the original?

Irish Lamentation

A1:First corners set and turn single.  Two-hand turn.
A2:Second corners the same.
B1:Ones cast, go well down the outside.  Cast back to place.
C1:Ones cross; go below the twos who lead up.  Ones half figure eight up.
B2:Four changes of circular hey with hands (6 steps each).
C2:Right-hand turn partner (12 steps).  Left-hand turn.

Jack Pudding        Jack Pudding: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 1st Edition, 1651, John Playford.
Format: 3 Couples longways.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, 1998.

In the Spring 1998 issue of English Dance & Song (the magazine of the English Folk Dance and Song Society), Audrey Town republished an interpretation of “Jack Pudding” by Freda Tomlinson, and then gave her own change to the third figure to make it move more smoothly.  What she didn't give was Playford's original wording, so that the readers could see for themselves which interpretation was the more likely.  I realise that there are plenty of dancers — probably the majority — who just want to do the dance, and don't care who the interpretation is by or how faithful it is to the original.  But I think interpreters owe it to the dancers to keep to the original as much as possible and tell them when they have changed something.  And when I read it through it seemed to me that it wasn't just the third figure that would have the dancers scuttling around — the whole dance with the exception of the three standard introductions seems much too busy.  I suspect this would have been more visible if the instructions had specified in more detail how they are meant to fit the music.  I don't have permission to reprint the two versions, but let me say that they have a first figure with two (short) A's and one B whereas the second and third figure have two B's.  So naturally I went back to the original:

Jack Pudding             Longwayes for six             (with a diagram showing a conventional 3 couple longways set)

First and 2. Cu. leade up a D. and fall back, whilst the 3. Cu. leade up to the top betweene the other, first and 2 Cu. leade up againe and back, whilst the 3. lead downe.

Third Cu. leade up betweene the other, and casting off, goe on the out side under their armes, crosse over and under their armes, and fall to the bottome as at first, then the first foure hands and round, and sit while the third doe as much.

Sides all  .  That againe  : 

Men round and hold up their hands, We. under their armes and turne their own, We. goe round, and each man turne his owne.

Armes all  .  That againe  : 

Third Cu. leade under the first Cu. armes and come face to the We. hands you foure and round, the first Cu. fall into the 3. place, the third Cu leade under the 2. Cu. armes, and hands round, the 3. Cu. fall into the 2. and the 2. into the first place  . 

In each of the three figures the two paragraphs are actually laid out beside each other, making it clear that the three Playford introductions are for the A-music and the figures are for the B-music.  Unfortunately the underlined single and double dots which are supposed to indicate the end of each phrase of music are not much in evidence, so you can't immediately tell how many B's there are in each figure.

It's certainly not obvious what it all means, and there are several interesting points.  For one thing, it's the third couple who are in charge of the dance.  For another, it shares with “Step Stately” and very few other dances the fact that it has the three standard introductions of Up a Double, Siding and Arming and yet is apparently a progressive dance which is done from each position in turn.  The only other which springs to mind is “Maiden Lane”, and that's a confusing example because in Sharp's interpretation you only do half a hey in the first figure so the set is inverted at the start of the second figure — let's not go into that at the moment!  In Jack Pudding it seems absolutely clear that the set ends in the order 2, 3, 1, so Audrey's version (which doesn't) would have to be substantially better than Freda's to convince me to adopt it.

The first question is “How much music do we need?”.  One of my rules of dance interpretation is that if in doubt you should allow more time for the movements rather than less.  Dancers in 1651 wore heavier clothing than we do, and I don't believe they leapt about the way Sharp's dancers did when he published his interpretations.  The three introductions present no problems, except that when Playford directs the first and second couples to lead up a double and fall back, he presumably means this to be without hands, since the threes are leading up between them.  Let's look at the main part of the first figure.  I can't see any disagreement on the track taken by the third couple: they lead to the top, cast to middle place, cross under both sets of arches, and cast to the bottom.  This leaves them improper, so “whilst the third doe as much” presumably means they do a two-hand turn either half-way or 1½ to finish proper.  How many steps is all that?  Freda's version has only one B for the first figure — 16 steps — which seems very rushed to me.  Assuming the circle for the ones and twos is on the last eight steps, the threes have a mere eight steps in which to lead to the top, cast to second place, cross over under both arches and get out of the way of the circle.  I don't think so.  And what about about that strange phrase “and sit”?  I know some Playford-style callers use the phrase “Have a rest”, but that's normally after the dance is over!  What does Playford mean by “then the first foure hands and round, and sit while the third doe as much”?  My guess is that by “sit” he means “stand doing nothing” — in other words the circle at the top is first, then the threes have their two-hand turn.  And certainly that won't fit into a single B — so why not be conventional and have two B's?  This gives the threes a more reasonable 16 steps in which to finish improper in third place.  Then there are 8 steps for the ones and twos to circle left, and 8 steps for the threes to turn 1½.

After the siding introduction, the second figure starts “Men round”.  Freda assumes this means “Men round the women”, and gives her interpretation an air of respectability by relating it to The Phoenix.  But in The Phoenix, Playford spells the movement out in much more detail: “First man go down on the outside of the Wo. to the last, the rest following.  Take every man a wo. by both hands…” Freda's version doesn't specify the timing, but The Phoenix has 8 steps for the men to go half-way round the women.  This leaves 8 steps for the two lines to cross over, face, and then two-hand turn all the way — very busy, and the men aren't turning their own partners as Playford directs.  It seems more likely to me that “Men round” means “Men circle left”.  Playford's more usual phrases for this are “hands and go round” or “hands round to your places”, but he often leaves things out.  This again takes 8 steps, but this time the cross over leaves the dancers improper so the two-hand turn is only half-way — and you do turn your own partner.  It's still a busy move, so keep it tight, and it would help if after the first half-turn the third man hands his partner up into the ladies' circle.

And so to the third figure.  It seems to be in two halves (presumably B1 and B2) each of which involves the threes leading under an arch, circling with somebody, and finishing in a different place.  The threes can certainly lead up under the ones' arch and wheel right to finish on the outside facing the other two ladies.  And they can circle left with them — but where do they finish, and how can the first couple end in third place when the man has taken no part in the circle?  Freda's version starts the third figure with the set inverted, but I think this unlikely (and again don't quote Sharp's version of Maiden Lane).  Neither version has the arch, which is a pity as in Playford all three figures have people going under arches, and the threes finish facing the men rather than the women.  And in the second half the symmetry is lost because the first and second men have to change places.  Also if the threes keep hold of their partner the whole time, at the end of the second circle they are likely to finish improper.  I'm really not happy about this figure at all.  Audrey's version is smoother and avoids the asymmetry — but it's even less like what Playford says, and I still find the threes finishing improper.

I'm starting from the standard position.  So the threes lead up to the top, under the ones' arch, and wheel round to the right to face the ladies.  This sounds like more than eight steps to me, particularly as the man is on the outside of the wheel around.  But fortunately the next move is less than eight steps.  These four circle left about one quarter, then the third man draws his partner out of the circle so that they are in the middle of the set, proper, facing up, the first lady keeps going to finish at the bottom, and the second lady finishes in top place.  If the ones are to “fall into the 3. place”, the first man needs to cast to the bottom while the second man moves up, and the twos can now make an arch at the top.  The threes lead up, wheel round to the left to finish on the outside facing the men — and my inclination is to circle right at this point, since that's the way the threes are moving.  But now we're in trouble; I can't see any way of finishing that circle with the threes in middle place and the first man at the bottom.

So is there any answer?  John Playford and his contributors certainly made plenty of mistakes, but can we detect the mistake at this distance in time?  I'd been writing this article for English Dance & Song in a hurry (as usual), and hadn't actually worked out this figure until I'd written the article up to here — and I really didn't think I was going to work it out!  The problem is that B1 gets everyone to their progressed places, and I couldn't get B2 to work — it seems strange that if B1 and B2 are symmetrical there can be a progression in B1 but not in B2.  And then I had an inspiration.  As I said earlier, I didn't like the first man casting to the bottom in B1 but it seemed the only answer if the first couple is going to finish B1 in the third couple's place.  But suppose Playford meant that the first woman was to finish in third place while the men stayed where they were?  This means the second arch is now made by the people at the top — the first man and the second woman — rather than the twos as Playford prescribes.  Deciding what Playford got wrong is always tricky: I say that other interpreters aren't following what Playford actually said, and now I'm doing the same thing myself!  But this way the symmetry is preserved: the women progress in B1; the men progress in B2.  And the threes finish in middle place facing up with inside hands joined — just where they want to be to lead up a double at the start of the next turn of the dance.  Is it right?  I don't know.  It's quite awkward for the second woman to finish the circle at the top, ready to arch with the second man — she wants to circle much further.

I published all this in the next edition of English Dance & Song , and finished by saying “If readers have other suggestions for this figure, please write in and give them”.  I had an amazing response to this — four letters, no less.  And if you think I'm being sarcastic here, you're wrong: I frequently wrote what seemed to me controversial articles and got no response at all!

Mike Rothon, an excellent guitarist from the Beckenham and Croydon Group who also does historical dance, said that I had transcribed Playford's original instructions wrongly, and that in the final figure it says that the first couple fall into the 2. place rather than the 3. place.  He says it's clearly a “2” in the 4th edition — and when I looked at my photocopy of the 7th edition it was a “2” there as well.  But if you have the Margaret Dean-Smith facsimile of the first edition, see what you think.  I'm pretty sure that it's a “3” with part of the tail missing, and that when they reset the type for the fourth edition they misread it as a “2”.

Mike suggests that in the first figure the third couple lead up to the top, cross and cast, lead through both arches and finish in their own places (8 bars).  Then the top two couples circle half-way, then the bottom two couples circle half-way — giving a standard progression but with the top two couples finishing improper.  Do this three times and everyone is home.  Clever stuff, eh?!  In the second figure he has yet another interpretation of the phrase “Men round”, suggesting that the men turn single half-way and hold up their hands (2 bars), the ladies go under the arches and turn back (4 bars) and all two-hand turn partner half-way (2 bars).  This is then repeated with the ladies making the arches.  In the third figure he has the ones arching and the threes leading under (4 bars), then these two couples two-hand turn partner half-way (4 bars — rather a lot of music there, I would say).  Now the threes lead under the twos' arch while the twos lead up to take their place at the top, and the threes about turn to circle half-way with the ones.  This gives a standard progression, and twice more will get everybody home, but what's happened to the symmetry?  Anyway, Mike is suggesting six B's for the first and third figures, and two B's for the second.

Jennifer Kiek, Historical Dance teacher from Bromley in Kent, prefers a right-hand arch in both halves of the third figure.  She has the threes continuing the circle movement after letting go of the two ladies, to finish facing down in middle place.  They then lead down through an arch made by second man and first lady, wheel right to face the men, circle left until the threes are in middle place, and again the threes continue the circle movement to finish proper.  As soon as I read the part about facing down I decided that it made a lot of sense, so that's the way I now teach it (as you will see below).

Jim Blagden, the man who collects the money when I dance in Ashford, Middlesex, says he agrees with my interpretation of the first figure, but wonders whether the two-hand turns in the second figure should be all the way rather than just half-way.  The ladies would then circle on the men's side, and the second two-hand turn would get everyone home.  I feel that this would be rather busy.  He also proposes a different explanation of the third figure.  The threes lead up through an arch made by the ones, then about turn and circle all the way with the two ladies (the second lady moving up into the circle and then falling back again) — leaving the threes at the top.  As the ones cast to the third place, the threes lead down through an arch made by the twos, then about turn and circle left with them, finishing 2, 3, 1.  In this version the arches would have to move as well, but Jim rightly points out that the original instructions don't say the threes have to come up under the arch.  It will certainly work, but to my mind once again we have lost the symmetry.

Andrew Shaw, the well-known caller from Manchester, says he has long had a fondness for this dance and enjoys teaching it, partly because the alternative title from the 4th edition onwards is “Merry Andrew”.  He is unconvinced by my interpretation of the first figure, which he feels is based on a very forced interpretation of the phrase “while the third doe as much”.  The second and third figures are meant to be symmetrical, and Andrew would much rather start from the premiss that the first figure is also.  He learnt this version from Tom Cook:

B1:Threes lead up to the top and cast around the twos.  Ones and twos take nearer hands with neighbour and make arches, threes cross straight over, going under both arches; threes cast to the bottom improper while ones and twos circle left half-way, to 2, 1, 3, all improper.
B2:Repeat the whole figure to original places.
Andrew points out that there is no instruction that the threes should finish proper at the end of B1 — only that they should finish in bottom place.

He says he has played around with the final figure for years, feeling (as I do) that when faced with seemingly irresoluble problems the best one can do is devise a figure which accords with the spirit of the original, if not with the letter, and is pleasing to dance.  The following particularly appeals to his purist tendencies for being as close as he can get to the original wording:

B1:Threes with inside hand joined, man in front, lead up the middle under the ones' arch, turn right and go round outside the two ladies who turn right to face out.  Those four circle left half-way; the sides (2nd lady and first lady, first man and second man) move down one place as the threes, keeping inside hands, loop clockwise, moving up slightly, to face down.
B2:Threes with inside hand joined, man in front, lead down the middle under an arch made by second man and first lady at the bottom, turn right and go round outside the two men who turn right to face out.  Those four circle left half-way; twos move up into top place as the threes, keeping inside hands, loop clockwise, moving up slightly, and fall back into middle place.
This is very similar to what I have come up with using Jennifer Kiek's correction.  I describe the circle as a quarter rather than a half, otherwise the second lady will overshoot and then have to fall back into top place.  Andrew also mentions other three-couple dances in the first edition with a progressive third figure: “The Night Piece”, “Millison's Jig” and probably “Shepherds' Holiday” and “Stingo”.  All but the last use variations on a crossing figure found also in “Maiden Lane” — where I think Sharp got the progression wrong, and the whole dance should be done from each of the three positions.  Sharp is obviously worried by “The Night Piece” ending with a progression, since he gives an alternative third figure “in order that the dancers may finish in their proper places”.  He uses the same trick in “Shepherd's Holiday” but presents this as the actual figure rather than an alternative, and he did not try interpreting the other two.  In Boston in the States they use the progressive version of Maiden Lane, and to me it makes a lot of sense.  I noticed Dorothy Frawley complaining in the last issue about callers who go to the States and come back telling people how they do English Country Dancing there, but the fact is that people over there take their Playford very seriously and think hard about it; I don't see why we shouldn't benefit from their fresh ideas.

Andrew says that Freda Tomlinson's version of “Jack Pudding” was evidently widely taught in its day, and many dancers in his area remember learning the dance from Olive Macnamara and William Ganiford.  He believes that Audrey Towns' revision addresses the difficulty of the third figure well and will be most useful to those dancers who find it difficult to drastically change the way they are used to doing the dance.

Jack Pudding

Format: 3 Couples longways.  Interpretation: Colin Hume, 1998.

Music: 3 x Own tune (two B's in each figure)

First Figure:
A:Ones and twos up a double and back twice (dropping hands as necessary) while threes lead up 8 steps, change hands and lead back.
B1:Threes lead up to the top and cast around the ones.  Arch on the sides with neighbour (ones and twos take nearer hands with neighbour and make arches), threes cross straight over, going under both arches, cast to the bottom improper and wait!
B2:Ones and twos circle left.  Threes two-hand turn 1½ to place.
Second Figure:
A:Side right shoulder to right.  Side left.
B1:Men circle left, open out and raise your joined hands to make arches.  All cross right shoulder with partner, ladies going under the arches, and turn to the right; immediately two-hand turn partner half-way to place.
B2:Ladies circle left.  All cross right shoulder with partner, men going under the arches; two-hand turn partner half-way to place.
Third Figure:
A1:Arm right.  Arm left.
B1:Tops (ones) face down and make a single-hand arch while threes lead up under the arch and wheel round to the right.  Threes continue wheeling to face the two ladies (who turn to their right to face them), then these four circle left about a quarter, threes continue wheeling clockwise to finish in the middle of the set facing down, first lady keep going to the bottom, second lady finish in top place — and the second man needs to move down to bottom place ready to make an arch.
B2:Bottoms (second man and first lady) face up and arch while threes lead down under the arch and wheel round to the right.  Threes face the two men, then these four circle left about a quarter, threes continue wheeling clockwise to finish in the middle of the set facing up, finishing back in a longways set in the order 2, 3, 1.

Repeat the whole dance twice more, so that each couple in turn lead the three figures.

As I say in “Playford with a Difference”, I am not trying to claim that my version is right and everybody else's is wrong, just that there is more than one possible interpretation.

Anyway, that's my version; see what you think.  I've used into-line siding, since I believe that's what they did in Playford's time, but if you're into “banana” Siding that's fine by me.

In 2012, Ann Hinchliffe from Yeovil wrote via this web page:

Have you come across the Lovelace manuscript, the dances in which are likely to date from around 1630-40, according to Carol Marsh's “Preliminary Study” (Freiburg, 2004)?  Its layout for Jack Pudding is an eye-opener; I haven't yet worked out all the figures but suspect it may answer lots of questions.  Layout also slightly confirmed by MS Sloane 3858 which seems to describe Jack Pudding layout as triangle.
A triangle (with the ones and twos side-by-side but separated, and the threes behind them) would certainly allow the ones and twos to lead up a double and back twice while the threes lead up eight steps and back, but I hadn't seen either of the manuscripts she mentions.  In 2016 John Sweeney produced his attempt to decipher the handwritten Lovelace Manuscript.  You can see his wording at and it contains a link to a photocopy of the original with a diagram which does indeed show a shallow triangle.  So at some point I may revisit this dance!

If you want to know more about the Lovelace Manuscript, see

Jamaica        Jamaica: Music in PDF, MIDI and ABC formatPrint this dance

Source: Dancing Master 4th edition 1670: John Playford.
Interpretation: Colin Hume, about 2000.

Original wording:

The first man take his wo. by the right hand, then with his left, and so holding hands, change places, then do the same to the 2. wo.  the first wo. and the 2. man do the same  :   Then fall back from your own, the first Cu. being in the second place, go the Figure of 8.  .   Do this to the last.
The first man take hand