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Dance The Cumberland Square Eight 1479

Also known as “Cumberland Square” (unofficial), “The Square Eight”.

Reel · 64 bars · 4 couples · Square   (Progression: Nonprogressive)

Devised by
80/08/80/08/80/08/88/88 = 62% (whole dance)
  • Skip-Change, Slip-Step, Tulloch turn
Published in
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Recommended Music
Extra Info
This is a Ceilidh style dance, of “traditional” origin. It is known under a number of names with no real …

This is a Ceilidh style dance, of “traditional” origin. It is known under a number of names with no real “original” description available.

A description of this dance was published end of 1939 in the magazine “English Dance and Song” as “The Square Eight” with a subtitle “as danced in Cumberland, near the Scottish Border”. You may want to read the scans at contrafusion for more information.

John Keppie wrote it up in 1992 as “Cumberland Square” in the book “Burns Night in the Annapolis Valley” and states “This is a North Country dance arranged for Scottish Country dancing. Square set of 4 couples with sets lined up across and up-and-down the room so that the sets can intermingle during bars 1–16”. Danced 2 x 64.

More recently in 2017 a dance description entitled “The Cumberland Square Eight” was published in the “Collins Little Book: Scottish Dance”.

The dance has also been described as “The Cumberland Square Eight” in the Ceilidh Dance instructions on the Grand Chain server.

Furthermore, “The Cumberland Square Eight” is mentioned in a number of books and novels such as “Disaster with the Fiend” by Sheila Lavelle (1988, p.76–83), “Popular Leisure in the Lake Counties” by Lyn Murfin (1990, p.194) or “Annie’s Girl” by Audrey Howard (2002).

From the published names one tends to speculate that while “The Square Eight” might have been an original name, the term “Cumberland” might have been added to distinguish this version danced in Cumberland (near the Scottish border) from other dances like the “Goathland Square Eight” or the “Yorkshire Square Eight”. The abbreviation to “Cumberland Square” may be misleading as judging from the above sources it seems unlikely that this dance refers to a location called Cumberland Square.

In issue 2633 Meryl Thomson provides information about the source of the dance:

The dance “Cumberland Quadrille” appears in the handwritten notes of Thomas Murphy c.1830s, now held in the Mitchell LIbrary, Glasgow. The instructions appear to be a precursor of the current dance - Top and Bottom Highland Scottische poussette to opposite places. Sides the same. Top and Bottom repeat Back, Sides repeat back. Top and Bottom rights and lefts turn partners sides Ladies Chain all set to corners, Balance & turn partners, grand Chain half round, promenade to places all waltz.

This was a single quadrille - quadrille being a historic term for a dance for 4 couples in a square set.

As for the “Basket swing” formation danced by 4 people in the center of the set - there are two versions mentioned as alternatives in e-crib. Both can be seen in videos of this dance.

Cumberland Square The Macadians Burns' Night in the Annapolis Valley MC 6 R64 20:00 0.0
The Cumberland Square Eight The Occasionals Footnotes CD 11 -645:24 0
The Cumberland Square Eight 4S · R64
1c+3c BHJ slip across (Men BtoB) ; and back (W BtoB)
2c+4c repeat
1c+3c RHA ; LHA
2c+4c repeat
1c+3c Basket Swing (Alt: all dance ½ Gr.Chain and set)
2c+4c repeat (Alt: all dance ½ Gr.Chain and set)
Circle8 L (Alt: Circle8 L and back)
All promenade cclw to places.

Repeat once

Basket Swing: W join hands behind the M’s backs; M join hands behind the W’s backs; all lean back and circle L (Alt: M join hands behind W’s backs, W join hands behind the M, arms on top of men’s; all circle L in tulloch step; with sufficient speed the W’s feet can lift off the floor )

The Cumberland Square Eight 4S · R64
1s+3s join both hands with partner & slip step across (Men BtoB) & slip step back (Ladies BtoB)
2s+4s repeat
1s+3s dance RH across & LH back to places
2s+4s repeat
1s+3s basket swing (Alt. All dance Grand Chain 1/2 way & set)
2s+4s basket swing (Alt. All dance Grand Chain 1/2 way back to places & set)
All circle left (Alt. All circle 8H round & back)
All promenade back to places (Alt. All swing partners)

Watch on YouTube

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Once through only. Very informal, Ceilidh style, mostly …

Added on: 2012-12-17 (YouTube Automatic Downloader)
Quality: Informal/Social (RSCDS)

Watch on YouTube

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The dance is preceded by an instruction and …

Added on: 2017-10-17 (Eric Ferguson)
Quality: Informal/Social (RSCDS)

NameDateOwnerLast changed
Vienna, Social Dance, 21.10.2017 2017-10-21 Felix Hamelbeck Oct. 18, 2017, 8:16 a.m.
Charlotte ajdsmith Feb. 6, 2018, 5:42 p.m.
20230503 - Torryburn May Ceilidh - Agnes 2023-05-03 Zsofia Jozsef May 4, 2023, 12:27 a.m.
231227 Berkhamsted Ceilidh 8-10.30 B&S 2023-12-27 Stephen Webb Dec. 23, 2023, 6:28 p.m.
Spring Ball in Kazan, Russia 2020-03-07 Evgeny Salmin Feb. 21, 2020, 8:46 p.m.
Caledonian Montevideo 2016 2016-10-01 ChArLy Candia Oct. 17, 2017, 3:16 a.m.
Program of ball in Kazan` march 2022 Nadezhda Alkimovich March 3, 2022, 9:42 p.m.
Collins book 2017 - Easy Ceilidh Dances Truus de Ceuster Oct. 17, 2017, 3:19 a.m.
Chemnitz Burns Night 2023 2023-01-28 SCD Chemnitz Dec. 5, 2022, 4:58 p.m.
2022-08-06 Phillip Howell's Farewell to Herts 2022-08-06 Gerard Elliott July 25, 2022, 9:56 p.m.
2018 St. Petersburg White Nights Dance 2018-06-22 Anton Korobeynikov June 20, 2018, 10:31 p.m.
Saint Andrew's Day in Saint-Petersburg 2015 2015-11-28 Ekaterina Iarmarkina Oct. 17, 2017, 3:20 a.m.
Ceilidh FfM 28.9.2019 2019-09-28 Ulrike Köppler Sept. 27, 2019, 10:41 a.m.
Dance Trad Sue Ronald Sept. 24, 2019, 7:40 p.m.
push and pull 2020-01-25 kmg July 7, 2024, 9:35 a.m.
An Evening of Scottish Country Dance at the Caledonian Club, London 2022-09-30 Stephen Hartley Sept. 30, 2022, 5:26 p.m.
Ceilidh FfM 24.11.2018 2018-08-18 Ulrike Köppler Nov. 9, 2018, 12:51 a.m.

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IdSubjectDateSubmitterAssigned toPriorityDisposition
1262 identical dances "Cumberland Square"? Oct. 17, 2017, 1:50 a.m. Heiko Schmidt Eric Ferguson Normal Fixed
1263 The Cumberland Square Eight: describing "The Basket" Oct. 18, 2017, 5:24 p.m. Eric Ferguson Viktor Lehmann Normal Fixed
2633 Source of The Cumberland Square Eight Oct. 13, 2021, 8:50 p.m. Meryl Thomson Murrough Landon Normal Fixed