Source: Traditional; published in English Dance & Song, November 1948. Vol XII. No. 5
Formation: Square with a Ninth Person in the Middle
||Heads Gallop Across and Back
||Sides Gallop Across and Back
||Heads Circle Left and Right
Sides Circle Left and Right
Throughout all this the Ninepin dances in the Middle of the Set
||The Ninepin Swings each dancer of the opposite gender, as they swing that person's partner steps into the middle
The five dancers of the Ninepin's gender Circle Left, the others stand or dance around the outside of the Circle
The music stops and the five in the middle find a partner and square the set - one is left in the middle as the new Ninepin
Any jigs or reels.
The version given in the article (and in the Community Dances Manual) is a common dance at ceilidhs and barn dances today, but the dance goes back to 1869, and is freeform. The caller can call any figures they like, e.g:
All Eight: Circle, Grand Chain, Promenade, Into the Middle & back
In Fours: Heads/Sides: Gallop across & back (interleaved); Gallop In & Out (interleaved); Circle Left/Right; Star Right/Left (hands on the Ninepin's head, or the Ninepin kneels); Go Forward & Back; All Four Ladies Chain Half Way, Set to the Middle, Turn Single Back (some moves could be for the four ladies or the four men)
Then: The Ninepin Swings OR Balances to OR Arms with each person (or maybe just one or two) of the opposite gender - that person's partner goes to the middle.
The Ninepin joins them in the middle and the five Ninepins Circle, Star, Basket, Single File (Turn around, Go Forward, Back Up, Turn Around, Back Up, etc.), Back Circle or something in the middle while those on the outside stand or dance or go single file the other way.
Regarding this dance, Ralph Page suggested, "Don't be polite; be quick!"
For further reading and some good videos see:
Library of Dance
Square Dance History Project
The article promised in the next issue didn't appear.
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