Aunt Hessie's White Horse

Source: Traditional, South Africa; published in English Dance & Song, Winter-Christmas 1971, Vol. XXXIII No. 4
Formation: Circle Mixer - Men Facing Out, Ladies Facing In

A1 Into Line Siding: Right Shoulder; Left Shoulder
A2 Dosido; Seesaw (Left Shoulder Dosido)
B1 On the Left Diagonal: Swing New Partner

24 bars.

From Mo Waddington: "When we learnt Aunt H's at Manley (near Chester) in the '80s the caller, Reg Holmes, told us that the hold for the swing was men's hands on partner's waist , ladies' hands on men's shoulders. And bob up and down."

From Julian Whybra: "I learnt this dance from a South African while at university in 1971. He told me that "Hessie" was Afrikaans - a diminutive for Hester and that it came from Natal. The Dutch had originally learnt it from a Scot who’d settled there (so, a Scottish dance? Hessie/Hester is found in Scotland). The incoming English settlers from the 1840s used the English diminutive ‘Hettie’ instead of Hessie, a diminutive for Harriet.

"He also taught it that in Natal in the siding, although it was into line, the male and female dancers had their arms folded and used to ‘bump’ right shoulders, then left. This is the way I teach it – and the music allows for it! If you don’t ‘bump’ you seem to get back to place a fraction too soon for the music. He used to say that you can hear the ’bump’ in the music (and you can!)."

From Steve Rowley: "I’ve been doing and calling Aunt Hessie’s since the early '70s. The band I was playing in (The Strawplaiters) used it frequently so I’ve continued. The tune comes from a really well known song which children learn. I’ve had many South Africans come and talk to me about it after the dance. Some bands get fed up with playing the tune over and over and like to add in a second tune. The popular one for this was Jalusa. When working with bands that don’t know AHWH tune we’ve fitted it to other tunes including Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho. In the '90s I discovered another tune that works for it - Zambesi. It then inspired me to make a variant of the dance which I now call Zambesi.

"I encourage bands to use latin/afro percussion playing these tunes. When a band gets the idea they get into the groove and play around with the tunes. One of my muso friends said in their band it was a race as to who could put down their instrument and pick up percussion quickest after they started. One time they ended up with five on percussion and the bass player knocking out the melody - and it worked just as well."

Here are the tunes: Jalusa and Zambesi.

Original page from English Dance & Song, Winter-Christmas 1971

Aunt Hessie's White Horse

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