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The Play-Party in Indiana.
various reasons.11 First, the line-form game is misleading for the position is really that of a double line, with the lines facing each other. The term "long-ways" dance, which Mr. Sharp uses in his descriptions of the English country dance12 is certainly the best one for describing these nine play-party games. It gives the correct idea as to the position of the dancers on the floor, and also suggests the character of the principal figures. The necessity of borrowing comes from the fact that there is no American term for this kind of folk-dance.
Weevily Wheat is perhaps as typical of this type of dance as any of the nine. The arch which is so important a figure in Virginia Reel13 is lacking in this game but is present in Way Down in the Paw-Paw Patch. In Hay-o-My-Lucy-o the formation is varied. The partners are opposite but in each line there is alternation of a boy, then a girl, next a boy and so on. The flirting in this game suggests that of the country dance, The Merry Conceit, though there is no evidence to indicate that the two have not developed separately. Of all the play-party games, those of this class, it seems to me, show the greatest evidence of remaking in America, and show this to such an extent that they have become truly American folk-dances.14
These games which belong peculiarly to the play-party, are not confined to Ripley County nor even to Indiana. Variations of these and other games of the same character are played in Missouri, but there they seem to be rapidly disappearing.15 Professor G. M. Miller, while speaking of the play-party says, "I know that the same old games we used at parties in Indiana were stuill used for dancing in the State of Washington three years ago," and he also gives proof of the existence of the play-party in Eastern Tennessee at the present time.16
An informant assures me that many of these games were danced by white people in the rural communities near Dallas, Texas, three years ago. There, an old fiddler played while another man sang the song and called off the dance. The young people merely went through the various figures of the dances.17
11 Walt for the WaKon, is not typically a long-ways dance but it has several features which would Indicate that it belonged to this class
12 C. J. Sharp. The Country Dance Book.
13 It will be remembered that Weevily Wheat is danced with the identical figures of Virginia Reel, with the exception noted above.
14 Classification of the dances to the play-party games may be a valuable basis for determining the date of their introduction into America.
15 Jour. Am. Folk-lore, vol. XXVII, p. 303. Ibid. vol. XXIV, p. 297.
16 Univ. Studies of Univ. of Cincinnati, vol. i. d. 31.
17 This is perhaps an intermediate stage between the play-party proper and the pure dance without singing.