Tom Pate - La TempÍte - The Tempest

Source: Traditional, collected by Sibyl Clark from Edith Palmer in Northamptonshire; published in English Dance & Song, October November 1954. Vol XIX. No. 2
Formation: Mescolanze (Four Facing Four - #1s are facing down the hall) or Double Sicilian Circle (#1s are facing AC)

A1 Lines Go Forward & Back x2
A2 Middle Four: Star Right; Star Left WHILE
Ends Swing with Opposite - spring back into your own line
B1 Take Ballroom Hold with Partner and face the couple in your own line:
Gallop across the Set (Men passing back to back); Gallop Back (Ladies passing back to back)
B2 Lines go Forward & Back; #1s Arch - Pass Through to the next line

There are numerous tunes named "The Tempest", but any 32 bar tune will do.

This article was published as part of Keith Uttley's "TEEN-A-PAGE… for younger sets"

The original dance was a popular European dance called "La Tempête". When it came to England some people translated it to "The Tempest"; others appear to have thought they heard "Tom Pate" and named the dance so! Hugh Rippon went one step further and, after devising a dance in the same formation in 1972, named his new dance "Fred Pate" after Tom Pate's brother!

The earliest reference that I have found is 1802. As was common in those days, if a tune or concept was popular then many sequences of moves were set to it. Here are examples of many different Tempests in the Four Facing Four Formation: There are common elements throughout, with slips evolving into gallops, and turns into swings, in the English 20th century versions.

One of the earliest English references is Joseph Binns Hart "2nd Set of Quadrilles" 1818 to 1820 - more information is at

The Community Dances Manual published the version above as "Tom Pate" and another version from Wiltshire under the name "The Tempest". That version changes A1 to All Circle Left/Right, switches A2 and B1 around, has the end couples balancing (twice in the 1952 CDM) before they swing, and adds clapping before the final Pass Through.

The American dance "The Tempest" is also for sets of four couples down the hall, however it is a completely different dance, in a different formation, with the #1s still in a Line of Four, but the #2s on each side as in a square. There is lots more information about this American version, going back to 1858, in "Cracking Chestnuts" and here; you can see it being danced here.

George Williams also provided this information:
There were at least two versions in the US, one published in New York, and one in Maine (and later Boston).

The NY version dates to 1851 (see here) this form is in 4 face 4 format. Hillgrove (New York) in 1857 also uses this formation but mentions that "all dancers start at once".

Then Washburn in Maine, in 1855 (see here), published a version in the peculiar New England format... except it's not quite as odd if you only have the top two couples start the dance, as they would have done in those days, it's just two lines of dancers on each side of the hall, with the top couples peeling off the lines to go down the hall in a line of four. His description looks very similar to Howe's from 1858 (which is what Cracking Chestnuts references, I think). I've made an animation of Washburn's version.

Thanks, George.

Original page from English Dance & Song, October November 1954

Tom Pate

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