Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Gypsy Thread

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

The Gypsy Thread
Jig 4 x 32 bars 4 Couple Repeat 4 Couple Set Longwise Set

  1-8   All join hands on the sides, 4s join free hands, 1M2M make an arch and, with 1L leading, all (including 1M) dance under the arch to finish in places, retaining hold;

  9-16 1L2L make an arch and, with 1M leading, all (including 1L) dance under the arch to finish in places;

17-20 all dos-à-dos with partners;

21-24 all turn partners by the right;

25-32 1s, in birl hold, turn by the right ad lib, moving down to finish in 4th place.

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

Dance Notes

The dance is easily adapted for 5 couples (more boisterous but perceived as more fun at a ceilidh) or for 3 couples (much more sedate but desirable if numbers dictate).

  8-8   Retaining hold, 1M2M dance under own arms.

16-16 Retaining hold, 1L2L dance under own arms.

25-32 For birl hold, take right hand elbow grip and a firm left hand grip above right forearms.

31-32 2s3s4s take hands on the sides and step up, finishing, except in the last repeat, by retaining hold ready for bar 1 of the next repeat.

Dance Instruction Videos

The Gypsy Thread - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

As is typical of ceilidh dances attributed to that prolific deviser, Anon, there are local variants of this dance, notably in bars 17-24. All have the characteristic bars 1-16, as does The Gypsy Shawl, though which is the original and which the derivative is not clear.
The Gypsy Thread, also known as the Hindu Thread, is one of the classic effects in close up magic, performed by many magicians.

In effect, a three or four foot length of thread is removed from a spool of thread. The thread is broken into numerous short pieces of varying lengths. One of the pieces is separated from the rest, which are rolled tightly into a little ball.

The little ball of pieces is placed onto the center of the single strand, where it mysteriously clings in place.

The two ends of the short piece are pulled. The small ball comprised of pieces jumps and dances on its little tightrope, as the ends are pulled farther apart, ultimately revealing the thread to be completely restored to its original condition.

Gypsy Thread Magic Trick - Information Video

Performing arts poster for Gypsy Thread page
Poster For American Magician Frederick Bancroft, Prince Of Magicians, 1895

Image copyright Frederick Bancroft, printed by the Springer And Welty Co. Lithographic Co., New York / Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Additional search terms: Ceilidh Dance.

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