Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Milky Way

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

THE MILKY WAY (J4x40) 4C set Ruary Laidlaw Second Canberra Book

1- 8 1s and 4s cross RH and cast in (2s/3s step down/up); 1s and 4s dance ½ Figs 8 (1s up round 2s, 4s down round 3s)
9-12 1s+4s set advancing diagonally into centre, pull back RSh on 2nd setting step to face corners and set to corners
13-16 1s+4s chase clockwise round in centre to end 1L followed by 1M facing 2M (at top), 4M followed by 4L facing 3L at bottom
17-32 Progressive Wheels:
   17-20 1s+2M dance RH across, 1s face 3M (at bottom) while 4s+3L dance similar, 4s face 2L (at top)
   21-24 1s+3M dance LH across, 1s face 3L (at bottom) while 4s+2L dance similar, 4s face 2M (at top)
   25-28 1s+3L dance RH across, 1s face 2L (at top) while 4s+2M dance similar, 4s face 3M (at bottom)
   29-32 1s+2L dance LH across, 1s end between 2s facing down 1M with 1L on left while 4s+3M dance similar to end between 3s facing up
(Note LH across are ½ way round for dancing couples to enable travel to next couple)
33-40 Lines of 4 across set, 1s+4s dance ½ R&L finishing on sides 2413, and all set

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


The Milky Way A 4 x 40 bar Reel or Jig for four couples in a longwise four couple set.

1 - 8 The first couple cross over with the right hand and cast off one place. The second couple move up. The first couple then dance a half figure of eight up between the second couple to finish on their own sides in second place facing in and down.
Meanwhile: The fourth couple cross over with the right hand and cast up one place. The third couple move down.The fourth couple then dance a half figure of eight down between the third couple to finish on their own sides in third place facing in and up.

Bars 9 - 16 The Spiral
The first and fourth couples in the centre of the set advance setting diagonally to the centre of their two couple group for one bar. On the second bar they turn right about in the centre to finish back to back facing their "corner person"
i.e.:
   First man facing the second man in first place
   First lady facing the second woman in first place
   Fourth man facing the third man in fourth place
   Fourth lady facing the third lady in fourth place
All four couples set on bars 3 and 4 to each other, as above.
See Figure 1
The first and fourth couples, then cast to their right for four skip-change of steps inside the set:
   First couple in tandem, lady in front to finish facing the first lady's first corner - the second man in first place
   Fourth couple in tandem, man in front to finish facing the fourth man's first corner - the third lady in fourth place

Bars 17 - 32 "Stars" - Progressive Wheels (for the following 16 bars the first and fourth couples dance in tandem in the same order as above).
   First couple dance a right hand wheel right round with the second man in top place for four bars to finish facing the third man in fourth place,
   First couple then dance a left hand wheel halfway round with the third man for four bars to finish facing the third lady in fourth place.
   First couple then dance a right hand wheel right round with the third lady in fourth place for four bars to finish facing the second lady in top place.
   First couple then dance a left hand wheel halfway round for four bars to finish with the first lady facing down between the second couple in top place, first lady with her partner on her left.
See Figure 2
Meanwhile:
The fourth couple dance the same formation, but starting with the third man in fourth place.
The fourth couple finish facing up between the third couple in fourth place, fourth man with his partner on his left.
NB. The left hand wheels are actually only halfway round, so you have plenty of time to get round to face the next couple
See Figure 3 for first couple's track

Bars 32 - 40 First couple, with the second couple in top place, join hands and set once in a line hands joined facing up the dance and at the same time.
Fourth couple, with the third couple in fourth place, join hands and set once in a line hands joined facing up the dance
See Figure 4
The first couple and fourth couples then dance half rights and lefts to finish on their own sides of the dance, first couple in third place, and fourth couple in second place...
Note:
   the two men curl down and round on the spot to finish on their own side, first man in third place and fourth man in second place
   the two ladies curl up and round on the spot to finish on their own side, first lady in third place and fourth lady in second place and all join hands on the sides and set once to finish.
See Figure 5

Repeat the dance with a new top and bottom couple.

(Dance crib compiled by the deviser, Ruary Laidlaw, May 22nd 2018)


Here is the original crib (with all the figures) for The Milky Way, by Ruary Laidlaw, also available as a .pdf The Milky Way (Portable Document Format).

Dance Instruction Videos

The Milky Way - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

This dance, The Milky Way, was devised By Ruary Laidlaw and published in the second Canberra book of Scottish country dances.

Recommended Music: The Dalston Jig, by Marion Anderson.

(Dance information by the deviser, Ruary Laidlaw)


The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System, with the name describing the galaxy's appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye.

From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from within. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610.

Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.

The Milky Way - Information Video

The Milky Way
Panorama Of The Milky Way Galactic Plane


Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Milky Way article on Wikipedia.
Image copyright, Juliancolton, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

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