Hmm… I seem to have stirred up a hornet’s nest!  It is great to see discussion on this important topic.


There are two very different forearm holds.


*** In front of the elbow ***:

This is the MWSD version. Callerlab defines it as:

Forearm: The arms are held past the wrist but not past the elbow joint. Each dancer places the hand on the inside of the arm of the person with whom he is to work. The fingers and thumb are held in close. The center of the turn will be at the joined arms, so, while turning, each dancer is moving equally around the other.”


I think this is what Andrea is describing (my apologies if I am wrong).


I don’t like this one.  Sorry.


The connection is not as good as it could be.

Good connection can often only be achieved by gripping the other person’s arm.

It provides the opportunity to grip hard.

I often find that, due to different arm lengths, the gap between by thumb and index finger is pressed against the inside of the other person’s upper arm. This can be uncomfortable.


The one I do like is:


*** Behind the elbow ***:

Put your thumb beside your fingers. Curve your hand. Place your forearms together. Place your curved hand behind your partner’s forearm, just above the elbow.  Get close enough so that your upper arm is vertical.


This is a great connection.

There is no need to grip.

You are close together so that you can turn really well.

It is very effective for 1.5 turns.

Thumbs are not involved so the chance of gripping is greatly reduced.

It can be achieved instantaneously.

There is little opportunity to mess it up.


You can see it being used in this video:

There is a good example 5 seconds in - look at the second couple on the right (two ladies - one in grey).


We use this hold for all sorts of dances in the UK.  It is great for Strip the Willow and Lock Chain Swings (i.e. Grand Right and Left where you don’t pull by, instead you turn 1.5 times with each dancer).


I would thoroughly recommend this as an alternative Allemande style.


Try them and see what you think.


(P.S. The really sad thing about that video Is the swings.  If only the caller had told them to take the same forearm hold and join left hands underneath, then they could have had so much more fun swinging!)


(P.P.S. I love this dance.  Nottingham Swing.  I spent my first 50 years in Nottingham, so I have been dancing this dance for nearly 50 years now and I still love it.)


(P.P.P.S. The dance is actually from Northamptonshire - 50 mile south.)


            Happy dancing,                         



John Sweeney, Dancer, England 01233 625 362 & 07802 940 574                  for Live Music Ceilidhs                for Dancing in Kent                                  for Modern Jive DVDs