Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

The Onesome Reel

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

The Onesome Reel
Reuben Freemantle
Medley (S32 + R32) bars 1 Dancer Repeat 1 Dancer Set Square Set
The solitary dancer starts at the midpoint of first place in a square set; ghosts are similarly in 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. The set size should be such that, with the ghosts replaced by dancers, all could just take hands in a circle without moving inwards.


  1-2   1D dance to 3G's place WHILE 3G dance to 1D's place WHILE 2G4G exchange places similarly, all passing by the left in the centre and all finishing facing out;

  3-4   all cast clockwise one place;

  5-8   repeat bars 1-4 from new places, finishing 3G4G1D2G facing in;

  9-16 all set facing opposite, using a setting step or figure chosen by 1D, all finishing as at bar 8;

17-24 all repeat bars 1-8 from new places, finishing in original places, facing in;

25-32 all set facing opposite, using a setting step or figure chosen by 1D, all finishing in original places.


33-64 As bars 1-32 of the strathspey.

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

Dance Notes

When performed by a single dancer, it may be helpful to place markers (which must not interfere with dancing) in the ghosts' starting places.
The dance can also be performed with 2, 3 or 4 dancers, replacing the ghosts in the order 3 2 4.

  1-2   Do not take hands in the centre.
When dancing with 3 ghosts, follow a path which would not impede them; an obstacle which does interfere with dancing (such as a standard lamp with small base, no shade and the cord wound around the pole or a fairly small pot plant or a peg driven into grass) at the centre point of the set may provide a useful discipline.

  9-16 In the strathspey, 1D can choose from: common schottische, highland schottische, rocking step, glasgow highlanders' step or any other appropriate highland step in his/her répertoire; similarly, in the reel, s/he can choose from pas-de-basque, pas-de-basque coupé, coupé pas-de-basque, set and point or any other appropriate highland step in his/her répertoire. Some simple setting figures which involve rotation or modest travelling, such as set turning on the spot, set advancing and retiring, successive petronella turns anticlockwise around the set can also be chosen provided 1D finishes in the place where this phrase started.
1D must obtain approval of his/her choice from any dancer replacing a ghost.

(Dance notes by the deviser, Reuben Freemantle)

Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams

Dance Information

This dance, The Onesome Reel, was devised to fill a glaring need during the Covid-19 lockdown in UK; it is so-named because it derives logically from the Foursome Reel and others of that genre from the 18th century.

Like those predecessors, it is a recipe for multitudes of dances with the choice of steps for bars 9-16, 25-32, 41-48 and 57-64 left to the dancer. This can be daunting for those who prefer specific instructions; see Lonesome Reel which is an example suitable for those whose experience of footwork does not extend beyond the seven basic steps which are sufficient for the vast majority of Scottish Country Dances.

(Dance information by the deviser, Reuben Freemantle, 2020)

Young dancer on her own in a big dance room
Lonesome Dancer

Image copyright Geerd-Olaf Freyer from Aachen, Deutschland / CC BY-SA (, via Wikimedia Commons.

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