North Carolina Square Dance

North Carolina Square Dance is an Appalachian Circle Dance. It was devised by Margaret L. Engle in about 1939 and published in American Folk Dances. It is a Custom dance. There is no progression in this dance. The dance lasts 96 bars.

Published in American Folk Dances, edited by Lynn Rohrbourgh in 1939; recorded by Margaret L. Engle of Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC.

Engle writes:

MUSIC: Guitar, harmonica and banjo. Familar tunes such as "Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet," "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," etc.

POSITION: The swing is the ordinary country dance position: girl's right hand in boy's left; boy's right arm under her arm and around her waist; girl's left hand rests on boy's shoulder.

As many couples may participate as the floor space permits. For the first figure, all are in a big circle, girl on her partner's right.

  1. "Circle right—the other way back."
  2. "Break and sing the lady on your left,
    And now your own."
  3. "Promenade" (To the right, girl on the right, with his right hand over his girl's shoulder, holding her right hand, with his left hand in front holding her left hand.
  4. "London Bridge." Leading couple reverse and form an arch over the next couple, and so on until each couple has gone through the same.
  5. "Ladies stand still and gents move up four." (The number may be varied.) Men move up and swing that lady. "Again promenade" The above is repeated until men have almost reached partner and the caller says, "Ladies stand still, gents find own partners and promenade."
  6. "Off in Fours" (Odd couples go to even couples.) "Right hands across—Left and back." "Break and swing your opposite, now your own." "Promenade on."
  7. "Off in fours."
    "Bird in a Cage." (First girl in center, other three circle around her.)
    "Bird flies out and hawk flies in."
    Break and swing—promenade on."
  8. "Off in sixes" (Three couples make a circle, and move to the right.)
    "Right hands across." (Clasp right hands with the lady opposite and circle right.)
    "Left and back." (Change to left hands and reverse the circle.)
    "Pull the lady through and swing her (The bottom hands come through first.)
    "Swing the opposite." (The other girl, not your partner.)
    "Now your own" and "Promenade home."

When he says "off in fours", the easiest thing to do is have the odd man and even lady move into the middle of the circle into a normal facing couple position (lady on man's right). Since dancers must swing their opposite, this seems the correct orientation.

However, when he says "off in sixes", when people form six hands across they must be across from someone of the opposite sex. This means that the men should all be either on the inside of the circle, or the outside (well the 2s can be either proper or improper, since they match with themselves, but the 1s&3s must either be both proper or both improper).

On the other hand the call wants people to swing their opposite and then their partner. But if the 2s are their own opposites that leaves them with two partner swings one after another. So maybe the 2s should split and one change with the 1s and other with the 3s? Or is that too complicated?

The animation plays at 120 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: circle, hands across (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.

If you wish to link to this animation please see my comments on the perils of youtube. You may freely link to this page, of course, and that should have no problems, but use one of my redirects when linking to the youtube video itself:

< Prev Top Next >

The dance is copyright © ~1939 by Margaret L. Engle. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2023 by George W. Williams V and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website is copyright © 2021,2022,2023,2024 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.