There are two methods of progression in a Longways Dance — the whole-set and the minor-set.

In the whole set dance the progression is effected by the transference in every Round of the top couple from the top to the bottom of the General Set, the rest of the couples moving up one place.

The minor-set dance is one in which the Complete Figure in each Round is performed simultaneously by subsidiary sets or groups of two (duple) or three (triple) adjacent couples.

The effect of every performance of the Complete Figure is to change the positions of the couples in each minor-set. In a duple minor-set dance the two couples change places, in a triple minor-set the two upper couples. This necessitates a rearrangement of the minor-sets in the following Round, and this is effected by each top couple forming a new minor-set with the adjacent couple or couples below. In this way the top couple of each minor-set will move down the Set one place every Round; while the lower couple of the duple-minor set, and the second couple in the triple-minor set, will each move up one place. As the dance proceeds, therefore, every couple will move from one end of the Set to the other, the top couples down, the rest up. In a duple minor-set each couple on reaching either end of the General Set becomes neutral in the following Round. In a triple minor-set each couple upon reaching the top of the General Set remains neutral during the two following Rounds; and on reaching the bottom for one Round only. It should be added that when the top couple of a triple minor-set dance reaches the last place but one it must, in the succeeding Round, dance the progressive portion of the Complete Figure with the last couple or change places with them.


The direction of the progression is normally counter-clockwise — as in the Running Set — but in some dances, owing to he exigencies of one or other of the movements of the Complete Figure, the couples progress in the reverse direction, clockwise.

In the diagram at the head of the Notation of each dance, the dancers will be numbered in the direction of the progression. The following diagram, for instance, is of a counter-clockwise dance:

American Numbering

The first couple opens the dance by dancing the Complete Figure with the second couple, passing on in the next Round to the third couple and thereafter progressing round the ring. In the third Round the second couple will dance with the third couple and thus become a moving couple, and begin its progression round the ring in the train of the first couple. Similarly every alternate Round a stationary couple will be converted into a moving couple and begin its progression round the ring. By the time the first couple has reached the last couple all the couples (i.e., if the number of couples is even; all but one, if odd) will be engaged, and the General Set will have assumed the form of two concentric half-circles, the inner ring consisting of moving couples, the outer of stationary couples, thus:

All Dancing

In the next Round the first couple having come to the end of the stationary couples will fall back into the outer ring beside the last couple (i.e., its original station), become a stationary couple, and after one neutral Round, be engaged in turn by the rest of the couples in numerical order; while at the other end of the Set, the 7th couple, after being neutral for one Round, will move into the inner ring, become a moving couple, and progress round the ring, engaging the stationary couples in turn.

The procedure should now be clear. At one end of the Set one moving couple will be transferred, every alternate Round, from the inner to the outer ring and become a stationary couple; while at the other end a stationary couple, also every alternate Round, will be transferred from the outer to the inner ring and become a moving couple. The General Set will always consist of a double line of couples occupying one half of the circumference of the original ring, and that half will move slowly round the circle, counter-clockwise, at the rate of one couple every alternate Round.

The dance may end progressively as it began (after the manner of the Progressive Hey), or continue indefinitely with all the couples engaged.

The slow and somewhat tedious opening Rounds of the dance when begun progressively, may be omitted by starting the dance at the point depicted in Diagram 2. In that case it will be possible to accommodate several more couples without enlarging the ring, thus:

Diagram 3

So long as the gap or vacant space separating the two ends of the Set is clearly defined and the dancers are careful not to encroach upon it, no confusion need arise. In the above diagram the space allotted to the gap is three couples, and that will probably be found in practice to be sufficient. It should be added that if the Dance is performed in this way, the opening movement, hands-all, will have to be sacrificed. The Sides and Arms, however, can be performed when the dancers are in the double ring.

Page transcribed by Hugh Stewart

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