Scottish Take-over - Eightsome Reel

For Susan Omand’s annual Scottish take-over this year, get ready to swing your sporrans with our answer to Strictly Come Dancing and learn some proper ceilidh dances...

If you’re of a certain age and went to a Scottish primary school, you will remember the trauma of gym class in the run up to the Christmas holidays... learning Scottish Country Dancing! However, they are lessons that have stood us all in good stead at Hogmanay parties, weddings and ceilidhs over the years so, for this week, I want to help everyone get ready for your own Hogmanay ceilidh and not look stupid on the dance floor by practising now with five of the most famous Scottish Country Dances. Today is...

The Eightsome Reel.

This one sounds really (reel-y?) complicated when it's written down but makes more sense when you see it as well.* Still, if you have no idea what you're meant to do,  this is a good time to go to the bar.

Formation: four couples arranged around a square, lady on the right of the man. Couple with their backs to the music are couple number 1, couple on their left number 2, couple opposite number 3 and couple on the right number 4 (ie numbering clockwise).

Music: Lively reels, played 40 bars for the first time through, plus 8 lots of 48-bar repetitions (phrased 24+24), plus a final 40 bars. So that's 464 bars: 40 + 8x48 + 40. "The Deil Amang the Tailors" is commonly used for the first and last 40 bars; other tunes often used include "Soldier's Joy", "Mrs MacLeod of Raasay", "The Fairy Dance", "The Mason's Apron".



1-8: All join hands in a circle and circle round to the left for 8 steps (four bars) and back.

9-12: Ladies join right hands in the middle, and hold partners around waist, and all dance right hands across in a star (wheel).

13-16: Swing round (couples still holding around the waist) so the men join left hands, and dance back with a left hand star.

17-20: Face partners and set twice.

21-24: Spin partners (turn RH).

25-40: Giving right hands to partner to start, dance a grand chain around the set (keep going in the same direction and give right hand, then left hand, then right hand, ... until you get back to place). If you get back early, spin until the end of the phrase.

Figure - repeat 8 times

1-8: 1st lady goes into the centre of the set and sets while the others circle round to the left and back.

9-16: 1st lady sets to partner, turns him, sets to opposite man and turns him.

17-24: 1st lady turns partner, opposite man, partner, opposite man (variation - dance a reel of three with partner and opposite man, giving left shoulder to partner to start).

25-32: Repeat bars 1-8.

33-48: Repeat bars 9-24 with side men.

Repeat Figure with 2nd lady, 3rd lady, 4th lady, 1st man, 2nd man, 3rd man, 4th man in the centre.

Chorus: Repeat the 40 bars of the start of the dance.

* Here's a "top down" diagram view so you can see who is doing what to whom, if you know what I mean. The black and white is the men, the colour is the women and each couple shares a number.

Instructions -
Videos - courtesy of Creative Scotland