Here's another three-couple dance that I don't think I've
seen mentioned yet in this thread. Like "Cottontail Rag"
(a/k/a "Hot Tub Rag" a/k/a "Jack Turn Back") discussed in
my previous message, this dance involves ducking under
arches and may not be suitable for the group of seniors
Rich Sbardella mentioned in the message that started this
thread. (However, Rich, see my additional comments below
the row of asterisks.) But it might be useful for readers
who sometimes call to small (or not-so-small) groups where
most dancers are limber.
I don't know an "official" title for this sequence but "Pull
the Bottom Lady Through" seems appropriately descriptive.
"Pull the Bottom Lady Through"
Formation: Circle of three couples
Forward and back
Right hands across (Dancers for a handshake-style star--
each dancer taking right with the opposite-sex dancer
directly across the ring--and turn the star)
Left hands back
"Pull the bottom lady through" (One pair of dancers will
have their joined hands lower than the other two pairs.
That gent pulls his opposite lady to his place under
as the other dancers raise their joined hands to
let her through.)
"Pull her through and swing her too" (The [former] bottom
lady, who has just been pulled through the arches, swings
with her [formerly] opposite gent in his place. The
other dancers meanwhile do *not* resume turning their
And now the next (The gent of the remianing pair whose hands
are lower pulls his opposite lady through thearch formed
by the remaining pair, and they swing.)
And everybody swing (Last gent pull the last lady to his
place and all swing.)
Dancers finish their swing facing in in normal couple position
(gent on left, lady on right) with their new partners. If gents
stay in order during the "pull the lady" actions (holding their
ground and pulling the ladies to gents' placs), two more repeats
of the whole sequence will get everyone back to their original
I've generally seen this sequence (or variants) combined with
other figures in the same way that traditional squares have a
mix of main figures and chorus figures. Here's a video of Phil
Jamison calling a version of figure at the 2011 "Dare to Be
Square" weekend in Brasstown, NC:
In addition to a version of the distinctive figure described
above (but omitting the preliminary circle right and forward
and back), the dance in the video includes a grand right and
left and reverse and a three-couple version of "Dive for the
You can see dancers in the video sometimes competing to be
bottom pair in the handshake stars, the idea being that the
pair who do the first pull-through get rewarded with the
longest swing. Other dancers may prefer to take a more sedate
approach and reward their knees and backs with less bending.
I learned "Pull the Bottom Lady Through" from the calling of
Dolores Heagy. If I recall correctly, one of the figures she
combined it with besides "Dive for the Oyster" was a three-
couple "Double Bow Knot". (See
for a square dance with "Double Bow Knot" danced successively
by two couples, then three couples, then all four couples.
There are a few spots in the video where dancers don't do
the figure as intended, but also lot of times where they do.
In Dolores's version, I believe the lead gent started the
Double Bow Knot by dancing under the arch made by himself
and his partner. Take note of the end ladies leading their
part of the broken ring ccw around the outside. This
"counterdancing" really adds to the flow of the figure.)
I think Dolores may have learned "Pull the Bottom Lady Through"
from Sandy Bradley. I don't know any more about the history
of the figure.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A variety of traditional-style square dance figures and breaks
can be adapted for use in a three-couple circle.
If dancers do a grand right and left in a three-couple circle,
starting with partners by right hands as usual, then partners
will meet halfway around the ring by left hands. In the
first video I cited above, Phil Jamison has dancers go around
their partners by left hands into a reverse grand right and
left. More simply, they could just continue the grand right
and left the whole way around (six changes total) to their
starting places and eet partners by right hands as usual to
start a promenade. (Or they could meet and swing or do-si-do
or box the gnat ...)
You can also use thing like
(on the corner)
Allemande left like an Allemande X
Pass your partner (or "pass who you swung) and swing the next.
Three repeats (instead of four as in a square) get you back
to your original partner.
(on the corner)
Allemande left like an allemande O
Go right [pull by R w/ most recent partner]
And left [with next in forward grand right an left direction]
And do-si-do [with next]
New corners [the ones who recently did a left pull by]
Allemande left like an allemande O
Allemande Thar can also work in a three-couple ring, with
appropriate adjustments if you want to get dancers back to
4-way symmetrical square dance sequences like "Texas Star"
are easily adapted to the three-couple setting.
Instead of "four ladies chain" [to opposite gents in a square],
you can use "three ladies chain two places" (to original corner
[the third gent around the square if you count partner as number
one]). Three such chains [instead of two] get ladies back to
Callers experienced with traditional squares will be able to
come up many more ideas along these lines.