Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Flowers Of Edinburgh

Scottish Country Dance Instruction


1- 8 1L followed by partner casts below 3s, 1L crosses and dances up behind Men as 1M dances up centre to 1st places on opposite side and 1s set
9-16 1M followed by partner repeat above Fig and set in own places
17-24 1s lead down the middle and back
25-32 1s+2s dance Poussette. 213

(MINICRIB. Dance crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)

Flowers of Edinburgh
Anon RSCDS Book 1
Reel 8 x 32 bars 3 Couple Repeat 4 Couple Set Longwise Set

  1-4   1L cast and, followed by 1M, chase halfway around the set, finishing below 3s;

  5-6   1L cast up WHILE 1M dance up the middle, finishing in partner's place;

  7-8   1s set;

  9-16 1s repeat bars 1-8 from partner's place, finishing in own place;

17-24 1s lead down and back, finishing in 1st position, both hands joined;

25-32 1s2s poussette, finishing 2s1s3s.

(MAXICRIB. Scottish country dancing instructions compiled by Reuben Freemantle)

Dance Notes

  1-32 Since 3s do nothing throughout, this could be danced as a 2-couple repeat, 1s finishing below 2s on bar 4.

21-24 1s must lead up quickly so that 2s have time to dance in ready for the poussette which follows.

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Instruction Videos

Flowers Of Edinburgh - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

This is one of the most popular Scottish country dances. It has been in the top thirty most frequent dances appearing on dance programmes, for decades.

Ah! The Flowers of Edinburgh! Imagine strolling on a fine summer's day through an empty loch, now the beautiful park that runs parallel to Princes Street, overlooked by the castle. Is this a floral tribute that perhaps gives some strong competition to Aberdeen's Blooms of Bon Accord?... or a beautiful panorama that certainly deserves to have a dance devised in its honour?

Well, let's not be too hasty! If we transport ourselves back to Edinburgh two or three hundred years ago, "Athens of the North" it certainly was not. Carefully picking one's way through the sewage of Edinburgh's unpaved streets among the tenements could be a hazardous undertaking, especially when the St. Giles Cathedral clock struck the evening hour of ten. That was the signal for the upper-floor tenement windows to be thrown open. Then, to shouts of "Gardy-loo", each home's liquid refuse in buckets, basins, and chamber pots was tipped out into the streets below. Suffice to say, in-house plumbing of any kind did not exist in those more primitive times. Edinburgh diarist James Boswell referred to this as the "evening effluvia", although the locals preferred the expression the "Flowers of Edinburgh".

Gardy-Loo? It was derived from the French garde a' l'eau (beware of the water), or perhaps, gardez l'eau. These days we would probably say "heads up".

In 1750, dashing to the shelter of the nearest doorway, instead of trying to dance a poussette, would have been the most sensible course of action.

The Barry Pipes Canon 029- December, 2009.

(Dance information from set and link, RSCDS Toronto Newsletter - What's In A Name? The Barry Pipes Canon 2005-2018, reproduced here with kind permission. Copyright Barry Pipes. All rights reserved)

The title of this dance, Flowers Of Edinburgh, is also shared with The Flowers Of Edinburgh - Song, sung to a Scottish well-known popular tune with the same name.

My love was once a bonnie lad,
He was the flower of a' his kin,
The absence of his bonnie face
Has rent my tender heart in twain.
I day or night find no delight;
In silent tears I still complain;
And exclaim 'gainst those my rival foes,
That ha'e ta'en from me my darling swain.

The Flowers Of Edinburgh Song - Information Video

There is also a Scottish highland dance Flowers Of Edinburgh - Highland Dance Video sometimes danced today at Highland games around the world, as part of Scottish National dances repertoire.

The Flowers Of Edinburgh Song
The Flowers Of Edinburgh Song, Printed Music

Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original The Flowers Of Edinburgh article on Wikisource.
Image copyright Traditional folk music [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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