Old Arkansaw

Old Arkansaw is a Square Dance. It was published by Lloyd Shaw in 1939 in Cowboy Dances. It is a Square dance. It is a multipart dance. The minor set lasts 176 bars.

Lloyd Shaw writes:


  1. Salute your company
    And the lady on your left.
    All join paddies
    And circle to your left.
    Break and swing and promenade back.
    1. First lady out to the couple on the right,
    2. Swing your paw,
    3. Swing your maw.
    4. And don't forget old Arkansaw.
    5. On to the next —
    6. Repeat 2 from (b).
      Repeat again, omitting last line.
  2. Balance home and swing 'em all night, Allemande left — go left and right. Meet your partner and promenade.

Repeat 2 and 3 entire for second third and fourth ladies.

* * *

This call is sometimes heard:

Swing that Indian,
Swing that squaw,
And now that boy from Arkansaw.

Or when it is wished to send the gentlemen around instead of single ladies, it is:

First gent out to the couple on the right
Swing your maw
Swing your paw
And don't forget your mother-in-law.

Lloyd says this dance's virtue is in the comedy of having two women swing together and struggling to decide who takes the man's role.

He then says that this struggle may be avoided if the two do a modified two hand turn where each grips the other's shoulders as they turn in a circle. (Though if the sole virtue is the comedy, why remove it?)

See also Buffalo Gals and Adam and Eve for other dances similar to this.

The animation plays at 120 counts per minute normally, but the first time through the set the dance will often be slowed down so people can learn the moves more readily. Men are drawn as rectangles, women as ellipses. Each couple is drawn in its own color, however the border of each dancer indicates what role they currently play so the border color may change each time through the minor set.

The dance contains the following figures: hand turn (allemande), circle, rights and lefts, swing (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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The dance is copyright © 1939 by Lloyd Shaw. 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 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.