Cuckolds all a Row

Cuckolds all Awry

Cuckolds all a Row or Cuckolds all Awry is an English Country Dance. It was found in the Lovelace Manuscript (written somewhere around the 1640s) and later published in The English Dancing Master. It was interpreted by Cecil Sharp in 1911. Found in The Playford Ball. It is a Facing Couples dance. There is no progression in this dance. It is a USA dance. The dance lasts 72 bars.

This is one of the few dances for which we have a description before Playford. The Lovelace Manuscript in the Houghton Library at Harvard University, filed as MS Eng. 1356 contains descriptions of 20 country dances (of which this is one). The manuscript is undated but was probably written between 1621~1649.

The dance also appears in Playford (starting in the first edition of 1651 and continuing until 1728)

Cecil Sharp bowdlerized the title to Hey, boys, up go we which scarcely seems an improvement.

The Playford Ball quotes Samuel Pepys in 1662 as quoting Charles II "Then to country dances; the King leading the first, which he called for, which was, says he 'Cuckolds all awry.' The old dance of England."

Lovelace description (transcription by Dafydd Cyhoeddwr:

Both couple shall stand 4 square, and leade up to one another, and downe agayne twice; then each man shall goe round about his owne woeman, then the last parte of the tune is to be playd againe, after that he hath gone round about his owne woman, first, and then about the woman, that is opposite against him, and then hee shall goe round the woeman that was opposite to him first, and his own last;
Sides all twice, first with his owne woeman, and then with her, that is opposite to him, then the 2 men shall change places, the woemen also allmost at the same time, then joyne all hands, and goe round, till you come to your places, then the woemen shall crosse over first; and then the men and joyne hands like before, and turne round the other way till you come to your places
Armes all twice, once with your owne woemen, and once with the other, but if you please you shall armes with your owne last, then each man shall take the woeman, that is right over against him, and the one shall draw her upwards and the other downwards; and presently draw them againe close together in theire places holding hands; then one couple shall pass through the other, first and then presently the other shall passe through, then the last part of the tune being played againe, they shall draw them contrary to that as they did before like as he that drawes his woeman upward before, shall now draw her downward, and the other upward, and then passe through agayne, contrary to what was done before.

Playford (1651) describes it thus:

Meet all forward and backe — That again | Turn back to back with the Co. We. faces again, goe about the Co. We. not turning your faces — Turn back to back to your owne, faces againe, goe about your owne not turning faces.
Sides all with your owne — sides all with the Co. | Men change places, We. change places, hands all goe round — We. change places, Men change places, hands all and goe round to your places.
Armes all with your owne — armes all with the Co. | Men put the Co. We. back by both hands, fall even on the Co. side men cast off to the right hand, your We. following, come to the same place again — put them back again, fall on your owne side, men cast off to the left hand and come to your places the We. following.

Some slight differences as to whether you do a move first with partner or first with neighbor. Also in Lovelace the second circle in the second part goes around the other way. Interestingly the Lovelace offers the option "but if you please you shall armes with your owne last". Playford doesn't give options.

In this animation I have followed Lovelace and made the second circle to the right (I think that's more in keeping with the way the rest of the dance mirrors earlier sections).

The tune, originally called Cuckolds All A Row, was also bowdlerized by Sharp to Hey, Boys, up Go We. It was published by Playford with the dance. It was performed by Bare Necessities (Earl Gaddis, Mary Lea, Peter Barnes, and Jacqueline Schwab) on the album A Playford Ball. The music is used with permission from the Country Dance Society, Boston Centre, Inc.

The animation plays at 125 counts per minute. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color.

The dance contains the following figures: USA, gypsy, circle, cast, poussette (and probably others).

If you find what you believe to be a mistake in this animation, please leave a comment on youtube explaining what you believe to be wrong. If I agree with you I shall do my best to fix it.

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I do not have a publication date for the dance and not know whether it is under copyright or not. The interpretation is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2019 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021 by George W. Williams V
Creative Commons License My work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Most of the dances have more restrictive licensing, see my notes on copyright, the individual dance pages should mention when some rights are waived.