Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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Throughout any simple dance each couple is known as "first," "second," "third/' etc., by the position they occupy at the beginning of the dance. And throughout this par­ticular dance they always return to this same home position. For the second dance of the evening, however, they may each shift into a new set or square and take any position they happen to find open, keeping this position throughout any one dance. In a real old-fashioned square dance, where most of the evening is given to these old figures it is cus­tomary to call the sets out on the floor and to call two dances one after the other. These two separate dances are called the first and second "tip" of the set. And when the first dance is finished everyone remains standing in his position on the floor, laughing and visiting until the music starts again, and then the set dances the second "tip," re­taining through it their same positions or numbers.
The Introduction
It must be explained that a square dance usually opens with one of several possible introductory figures. The fol­lowing is perhaps the commonest form:
Honors right and honors left—Each man bows first to the lady on his right, that is, his partner, and then to the lady on his left. The ladies all return the bow, which is executed quite quickly.
All join hands and circle to the left—The whole square with joined hands moves in a large circle to the left, walking around in a clockwise direction. They usually get more than halfway around when the next call comes.
Break and swing and promenade back—At the word "break," hands are dropped all around, and each man takes his partner in a modified dance position, her right hand extended in his left, her left hand on his shoulder, and his right arm around her waist. Where this differs from the standard dance position is that instead of standing face to face, the couples often stand right hip touching right hip, the man's right arm having to pass across the front of his lady and his wrist around her waist. The lady, with her hip braced against her partner, throws her shoulders back away from him in order to take advantage of the centrifugal force of the swing. With short steps the couple swings completely around twice in a "right about face" or clockwise direction.

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