Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Bulling Boots

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

Bulling Boots (R4x48) 4C set Lewis N Derrick 2019

1-8 Eight hands round and back
9-16 Giving right hands the 1st couple, followed by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th couples, lead down the centre, cross over below fourth place and cast up to original places on opposite sidelines
17-20 All advance and stamp twice and retire and stamp twice
21-24 All cross over the women dancing under arches formed by the men, all passing partners by the right shoulder and turning by the right to face in on own sides
25-28 All advance and stamp twice and retire and stamp twice
29-32 All cross over, the women dancing under arches formed by the men, all passing partners by the right shoulder and turning by the right to face in on opposite sides
33-36 The 1st and 2nd couples dance half rights and lefts
37-40 The 1st and 3rd couples dance half rights and lefts
41-44 The 1st and 4th couples dance half rights and lefts, ending 2341 all on own sides
45-48 All turn by the right (elbow hold)

Repeat three more times from new positions each time

(Dance crib compiled by the deviser, Lewis N Derrick 2019)


Dance Notes

This is intended as a ceilidh dance and can be done with a walking step.

On bars 21-24 and 29-32 the cross should continue slightly over the sidelines, then, with the men dropping hands, all turn by the right shoulder just outside the set and come back to the sidelines in one movement.

(Dance notes by the deviser, Lewis N Derrick)


Dance Information

This dance, Bulling Boots, was devised by Lewis Derrick for Claude Gardiner the husband of Sheila Gardiner (RSCDS BHS Borders Branch), whose husband spent 25+ years in the army.

Suggested tune: Cheeky Claude, a 4x48 bar March by Muriel Johnstone (composed for Claude after a dance holiday in Baveno).

Devised 2019, first published electronically 2020.

Copyright 2019, 2020 Lewis N. Derrick.

(Dance information by the deviser, Lewis N Derrick)


Bulling, Bull polishing, spit polishing or spit shining is a term commonly used by soldiers and refers to a method for polishing leather products in such a way as to give an extremely high shine effect. The term 'Bulling' is a reference to any form of cleaning, shining, polishing or such that has no other practical application other than to present an image of exemplary turn out or cleanliness. The term 'Bulling' is an acknowledgment that this is an undertaking intended to 'Bullshit' the inspector of a cleaned item in regard to its normal state of presentation.

It is commonly used in the military as a traditional method of presenting leather accessories (such as a Sam Browne belt) and boots for inspection. The finished effect should leave the surface of the leather highly reflective, similar to a patent leather finish. It is not unusual for soldiers to maintain a separate and unique pair of boots intended only for use for inspection or very special ceremonial occasions.

Ultimately, the process involves polishing the applied thin layers of polish, not the leather itself. The process can be lengthy and is best learned and perfected with practice. Soldiers are highly competitive in producing the smoothest, shiniest and most durable finish possible normally to their 'Drill' or 'Parade' boots.

The down side to this method is that the slightest touch to the laminated layers of brittle dry polish could end up with them cracking or even shattering like glass or even the leather breaking up as the nourishment supplied by the oils in the polish never actually reach the leather.

Bulling Boots - Information Video

Bulling Boots Image
Bull Polished Drill Boots


Dance information from The McGhie Scottish Country Dance Sheet #3, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Lewis N Derrick.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence.
Text from this original Bull Polishing article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright Tom Gibbs [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)].

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