Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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If the men will remember to face each other always and the ladies will remember to begin with a left turn—to do a figure eight beginning with the left turn—it will all go as smoothly as clockwork.
Now that the elements of this figure are mastered, let's slick it up a little. It is always preceded by a circle four; that is, the two couples, holding hands in a circle, circle around to the left until the call of docey-doe. It is often called Four hands tip and here toe go, 'round and around and a docey-doe. I expect it means four pairs of hands up and clasped, just as Eight hands 'round means eight pairs or eight dancers circling to the left. The dancers will find that it is just as easy to break into a docey-doe from the moving circle. But now it becomes instinctive and altogether correct for the men to move forward to seize the ladies' hands and to move backward as they swing them behind. They always more or less face each other, but weave back and forth with the ladies in a free-stepping and instinctive grace as they do so.
In fact, as the couples get expert, they will put in all sorts of flourishes. The commonest of these flourishes is for the men to swing past each other back to back as they swing their partners around with their left hands, and then, letting go, to continue a full pivot in order to take the opposite lady with the right hand. Then they pass the opposite gentleman again, back to back, as they swing the opposite lady with the right hand and do another full pivot in order to catch their partners with their left hands. This is the old form of the docey-doe described from the mountains of Kentucky.
I have seen some of our oldest Western pioneers precede the docey-doe with the call ladies doe, and the two ladies did a regular New England dos-a-dos, or back to back. They then called and gents you know and the two gentlemen did a dos-a-dos across their four. Then circle four and docey-doe, and they finished with the regular docey-doe described above. In fact, this ladies doe and gents you know has become just a bit of patter used by the caller while the four is executing the regular docey-doe. And beginners must never be wor­ried by this patter, the caller is just amusing himself, sort of talking to himself in his sleep, and he has dozens of variants of this docey-doe call. Once you hear docey-doe swing into the figure and let the caller rave on as he pleases. One of the commonest bits of patter you will hear, if you can distinguish the words, will be something like this: