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This dance, as will be clearly seen from the Notation (see p. 75), serves as illustration of the national method of settling quarrels—by a bout of fisticuffs. All the dances are typical of the race; this one is of course singularly so. Where boys are found disposed to look favourably upon the Morris dance, "How d'ye do" may be recommended as the very best to encourage the tendency in them. There is a spice of wholesome rowdiness in the spirit of the dance that will not fail to make itself known and beloved of boys. Besides, the shaking of hands before the fight, the squaring-up for war, and the reconciliation, can only be given the right robustious ring and defiance by the fighting sex. Another most engaging feature of "How d'ye do," is that the notes fitting these words, as will be found, are sung in every instance by the dancers, before, during and after the encounter. There is plenty of room, there, for a different sounding of the phrase: for making it ring of challenge, and strife, and victory—also of honourable defeat, after lusty strokes have been dealt and taken: the next best thing to a win—sometimes even a better thing.
The following instructions for the dancing of "How d'ye do" must be noted in connection with the Notation (see p. 75).
The phrase "How d'ye do" is always sung, by all the couples, as marked and played in music "B." Opposite pairs advance as shown. They should meet together in the centre on the word "do," and shake hands, or square up for the fight, according to instructions.
Having joined hands, or squared, and paused in the centre, the first two pairs (Nos. 1 and 6, and 2 and 5) break away immediately after pause, and back briskly to their places, making room for the next pair. There is no changing of corners in this dance.
The last pair (Nos. 3 and 4) remain in position, holding hands or squaring up, during pause in music, and still remain in the attitude while bars 4 and 5 of "B" are played. During these bars all the other dancers stand still.
When the music strikes into "A" section, all take part according to instructions. Nos. 8 and 4 loose or lower hands immediately the "A" music starts, and take their place and part with the others.
In this, the sticks are held in the fist, up and slanting outward, the top as high as the head. Partners cross sticks, leading file (Nos. 1, 3, and 5) holding to the right of even numbers. The tapping (or clashing, rather, for here the sticks are loudly clashed together) is done on first three beats of bars 1 and 2, and 5 and 6 of "B" music (see mark X). Partners strike each other's sticks, right, left, right, according to position, in the manner of sham fencing—the manner of brigands in pantomime.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III