Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Mairi's Wedding Reels

The term, Mairi's wedding reels, is a shorthand expression for the four successive Half diagonal reels of four in bars 9-24 of the Scottish country dance Mairi's Wedding. As originally written, the Dancing couple should Pass Giving left shoulders between the Half diagonal reels of four but it is almost always interpreted as the modern variation in which the Dancing couple Pass Giving right shoulders between the Half reels.

Relatively few other dances (but notably The Kelpie of Loch Coruisk) include all four Half diagonal reels of four; many such as The Waggle o' the Kilt require half the Figure and Polharrow Burn requires three quarters.

Throughout the years, much hot air, and even acrimony, has been generated over the propriety of Passing Giving right shoulders between the Half diagonal reels of four; the author's wife recalls an occasion when the remainder of The set refused to continue dancing and sat down after she and her Partner had Given right shoulders! It is often claimed that the deviser, James B. Cosh, strongly disapproved but his conversation with Derek Petrie, of the Netherlee SCD Club, clearly gives the lie to this. Derek says:

"Jimmy Cosh lived very near me in the southside of Glasgow and many years ago, such was the dispute at the time about passing RSh or LSh during Mairi's Wedding, I contacted him by telephone and spoke to him directly. He came over to me as a very nice and modest man exhibiting no affectation or conceit. He said to me that although he had written Mairi's Wedding to pass LSh he had absolutely no problem with dancers passing RSh and if the RSh pass was a clear preference then he had no problem giving his approval on the passing RSh! His main concern was that his dances would be danced and enjoyed."

For example, here are some Scottish Country Dances in which the term, Mairi's Wedding Reels, is used in either the MiniCrib or the MaxiCrib Dance instructions or both -
Corner House Jig
Mairi's Hangover
Mairi's Wedding
Saltire Medley

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Mairi's Wedding Reels

Mairi's Wedding Reels Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Reel(s) Of Four'


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