Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary


The Birl is an informal, two-handed Turn using the Birl hold to make a Quick turn in Quick tempo dances; with the appropriate Hold, it can be used to Turn clockwise or anticlockwise.

When Turning By the right (clockwise), the right hand should be cupped round the other dancer's elbow, as in Elbow grip, with the left hands held securely at chest height Above the right forearms. When Turning By the left, these Hand positions should be reversed.

A modified version of Slip step is used. For the clockwise Turn, the right foot, almost touching partner's, does not close to the left foot but instead moves only minimally so that the Couple rotate, usually much more quickly than in the formal Quick turn. For the anticlockwise Turn, it is the left foot which moves only minimally.

Here are examples of those Scottish Country Dances for which we have instructions on this site and in which the term, Birl, either appears explicitly or is implied; note that for a common term these will be a small selection; for a rare term, these may be all that exist:

Birlin' Awa
Circassian (Big) Circle
Wavre Adieu À La Saltarelle
White Heather Jig

Dance Video Clip Which Demonstrates Birl

Birl Video Clip

Links To Pages Related To 'Turning'