The Spanish Dance

The Spanish Dance is an American Country Dance. It was published by Thomas Hillgrove in 1857 in The Scholar's Companion and Ball-Room Vade-Mecum, New York. It is an improper duple minor longways dance. The minor set lasts 32 bars.

From The Ball-Room Instructer (sic), New York, 1841:

This can be danced by any number of persons. The couples take their position on the floor in the following manner: first couple at one end of the room, back to the wall—the next couple directly before, and face the first—third couple next to the second, and face the same way as the first—fourth couple next, and the rest in the same manner, till the column is completed, which may go the whole length, or completely round the room, according to the number present. If all have taken their positions right, the couples will be in the following order: first and second couples face each other—and third and fourth, fifth and sixth, and all the others in the same manner

The music for this figure must be a waltz, or tune in triple time, as Cinderella waltz, Kate Kearney—the Cachuaca and others. It commences with

BALANCE—Gentlemen and partners take hands; first and second couples balance forward to each other and back, balance again, and the gentlement exchange partners—first and second gentlemen taking the left hands of the opposite ladies and turn partly round, so that the couples may face each other, but across instead of lengthwise of the columns; balance again, back, forward, and both gentlemen take the left hands of the opposite ladies, (their partners,) and turn so that they may again balance lengthwise of the room, but both couples have exchanged places; the balance is performed four times, by which means each couple will have occupied and balanced from four different positions.

CROSS HANDS—The two ladies take right hands, and the gentlemen take hands across them, forming a star; the four half round, change hands, face the other way, and back to places. Partners take hands and promenade to the right, in a circle, the first couple passing the second and stop facing the third, next below, with whom they balance, &c. The completes the description of the figure, as after the promenade the couples balance to those before them as at first. Every two couples in the column balance at the same time. After every balance and promenade, but passing those with whom they previously balanced, the gentlemen and partners will find themselves facing a different couple; so that a lady and gentleman commencing at one end of the room, may go to the other by the time the music ceases; whis in this dance depends entirely on how long the company may choose to keep the floor.

Hillgrove, New York, 1857 says much the same but adds the caveat:

With new beginners, this dance is a great favorite, but the majority of the more apt scholars take little or no interest in it.

The dance was also found in England, and in London, ~1857, in Milner and Sowerby's Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, they write:

The couples are arranged as for a country dance; the lady and gentleman at top changing places, previous to the commencement of the figure; they then set with second couple, crossing into their places, set to partners, cross over again to secnd couple, and then to parners: all join hands advance retire, and turn round four times repeated, concluding with pousette.

The dance is executed either in a line or in a circle; and sixteen or twenty couples may engage in it.

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.

An online description of the dance may be found here.

A11-2Forward and back with partner
3-4Forward with partner, rotate a quarter, and back with opposite
5-8That again: Forward and back with opposite, forward, rotatate, then back with partner
A21-8Twice more, everyone ending where they started
B11-4Right hands across (gentlemen's hands on top)
5-8and left hands back
B21-8Promenade once and a half around the minor set to face a new couple

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:

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The dance itself is out of copyright, and is in the public domain. My visualization of this dance is copyright © 2021 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.