Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary


To form Arches two dancers raise their joined hands as high as possible to allow one or more dancers (usually a Couple) to pass between them, under their arms. If the dancers making the Arch are approaching the dancer(s) going under their Arch, as in Posties Jig, they Take Nearer hands. If they are stationary, they normally Face each other and Take Both hands, as in The Cumberland Reel.

Occasionally, one of the dancers making the Arch also dances under it and so those making the Arch cannot Take Both hands; for example, in bars 1-8 of The Gypsy Shawl, the Arch is made by 1st and 2nd Men at one end of a long open-ended loop of dancers, all with Nearer hands joined, who retain the Hold as they all, except 1st Man, go under the Arch.

The moving dancers use the appropriate Travelling Step.

Where the dancers making the Arch are also moving, the following conventions identify which dancers make the Arch and which go under:

Men always make the Arch for Ladies;

in a Longwise or Square set, those going Up make the Arch;

in a Round the room set dance, such as The Dashing White Sergeant, it is convenient, and easy to remember, for those going anticlockwise to make the Arch (but note that it is not strictly correct to make Arches at all according to the RSCDS instructions for this dance);

Where none of these applies, as in bars 21-22 of Aird Of Coigach, the Dancing man, and the dancer with him, make the Arch.

For example, here are some Scottish Country Dances in which the term, Arches, is used in either the MiniCrib or the MaxiCrib Dance instructions or both -
Bountree Reel
Brigs Of Ayr
Caveman Of Culsh
C'est L'amour
Cramond Wedding
Dunnottar Castle (Drewry)
Forth Bridge Jig
MacFarlane's Fiddle
Millennium Jig (Williams)
Virginia Reel
Welcome To Nova Scotia

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