1- 8 All circle 8H round and back
9-16 Ladies dance RH across (partners on their left) in St Andrews Cross formation, change to Men dancing LH across in centre back to places
17-24 All set to partners twice and turn 2H
25-40 All dance Grand Chain (2 bars per hand)
8 times through firstly with 1L in centre, then 2L, 3L, 4L, 1M, 2M, 3M, 4M
1- 8 With 1L in centre of dance setting (special steps?) the others dance 7H round and back
9-16 1L sets to partner and turns 2H, 1st Lady sets and turns 3rd Man
17-24 1L dances reel of 3 with partner and 3rd Man passing partner LSh
25-32 1L sets in centre while others circles 7H round and back
33-40 1L sets to 4th Man and turns 2H, 1st Lady sets to 2nd Man and turns 2H
41-48 1L dances a reel of 3 with 4M+2M across dance passing 4M LSh and 1L retires to place as 2L goes into centre
1-40 Repeat Introduction
(MINICRIB, Dance Crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)
1-8 8 hands round and back;
9-12 Ls right hands across with Mn outside;
13-16 Mn left hands across with Ls outside;
17-20 all set twice to partners;
21-24 all turn partners twice;
25-40 grand chain all round.
41-88 1L's Solo:
41-48 7 hands round and back WHILE 1L dances any solo setting step in the centre;
49-52 1L and partner set and turn by the right;
53-56 1L and opposite M set and turn by the left;
57-64 1L, partner and opposite M reel of three (1L and partner right shoulder to start);
65-72 repeat bars 41-48;
73-76 1L and first corner (M originally next on the side away from her partner) set and turn by the right;
77-80 1L and second corner (M originally next on her partner's side) set and turn by the left;
81-88 1L reel of three with these two men (1L right shoulder to first corner), finishing with 1L back in place.
89-136 2L repeat 1L's Solo.
137-184 3L repeat 1L's Solo.
185-232 4L repeat 1L's Solo.
233-280 1M repeat 1L's Solo (with M and L interchanged in the instructions).
281-328 2M repeat 1M's Solo.
329-374 3M repeat 1M's Solo.
377-426 4M repeat 1M's Solo.
425-464 All repeat Chorus (bars 1-40).
(MAXICRIB, Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)
9-12 For the right hands across, it's easier for the Mn to hold partners round the waist.
13-16 Similarly for the left hands across, Ls hold partners round the waist.
25-40 Slow chain, 2 bars per person.
49-56 In the RSCDS version, set and turn both hands.
57- In the RSCDS version, 1L and partner give left shoulder to start.
73-80 In the RSCDS version, set and turn both hands.
81- In the RSCDS version, 1L and first corner give left shoulder to start.
448-464 If you make the chain quicker and can get back to place soon enough, swing your partner.
An earlier form of the dance appeared in Anderson's Ballroom Guide which went through several editions between 1885 and 1902. The modern version first appeared in J.G. Anderson's Scottish National Dances (1900) and Donald R. MacKenzie's National Dances of Scotland (1910). For the next half-century or so (say about 1900 - 1960), the Eightsome Reel was probably the favourite Scottish dance. It has since gone somewhat out of fashion, especially among the international SCD aficionados who claim to find it long (it is), difficult (it isn't), and boring (it certainly isn't!). However, it is still regularly performed where Scots gather to celebrate Burns Nights, Caledonian Balls, Ceilidhs, regimental events, and so forth.