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The Adderbury dances DDMM do

  • Black Joke
  • Bluebells of Scotland
  • Lads a Bunchum
  • Postman’s knock
  • Princess Royal
  • Shepherd’s Hey (Johnny on the Railroad)
  • Shooting

Not done nowadays: Flowing Bowl, Billy Boy.
Page last revised 7.4.20

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General stuff about Adderbury dances

Usual stepping sequence: 2 bars double step (DS), two single steps (SiS), Feet together, jump (FtJ). No feint step. Dances usually start (OY) with rounds, odds go easy way in, evens turn out into the round. Shooting is single step.
Usual common figures (cf): Foot up (FU), Half hands (HH), Process down (PD), Hands around (HA), Process up (PU), Hey (H).
Other general info:

  • In walk round at the start need to get back to place in time to do preparatory movement (eg stick swing) - we're often slow to complete. Be aware of spacing (esp even-side men where the turn out to start can open a gap between no 6 and no 5). Keep time with the music, swagger.
  • FU in stick dances: after walk round, back in place, FtJ with stick clash facing your oppo, land then turn to start FU.
  • FU in 3 phases: move forwards, step in place, push back to where you started. Face oppo, and (in stick dances) FtJ and clash. Then repeat.
  • Figures should start with a leap into the stepping: no feint step or glide in, and push back on the single steps to return to place, or lines get ragged
  • In process up (PU) and process down (PD) the pair(s) moving should spring inwards a bit so moving up/down set shoulder to shoulder, sticks aligned (check by looking), both men go only as far a stick of closest stationary man. So 1 and 2 should process down until 2's stick meets 4's stick etc. Half-way through PD, PU, the couple who started should turn to face each other again before starting the second half (obvious in stick dances because they have to clash sticks then, but they should do so in non stick dances too).
  • Sticks are held vertical, butt downwards, arm slightly bent, not out to the side, nor inwards (ie arm at 90 deg to torso) but see below. Military bearing!
  • 'Preparatory movement' in stick dances (or how to get stick from vertical in front to execute clash) = lift stick vertically a few inches more, then let it swing down to your side, so tip now mostly pointing down, then bring up smartly in front of body to high position ready for clash at well above head height. Need to start this a couple of beats before you clash.
  • In hands around: don't stop or pause half-way through (except in Shooting). Leap into figure, grasping oppo's hand as you do so. Sticks out to side. Timing and space mean sticks need to be pulled in closer as couple turn across centre of set, with pull across joined hands.
  • Don't get back too early in hey, dance with your partner, keeping parallel with him. Figure of 8 pattern. Bottom pair dance on spot for 1 bar while they wait for tops to come at them.
  • Non-stick dances: hands do ‘balls up’ movement. Start at midriff, hands move in circle, down, out, back round to midriff, then straight up midline to about top of head height. Hands down, along midline to midriff to start again.

About how DDMM do specific Adderbury dances

Black Joke

Hankie dance.
4C (4 capers) after each half of a cf. OY, WR, df, HH, df, PD, df, HR, df, PU, df, H, df all up. WR: Even men turn out, with 4C half way, continue round same way (easy way in for all men) and 4C at end. Hey in two halves, after first half form set, 4c. Then second half hey, ending 4C. Distinctive figure is in set, all men 4 ss down (stay facing across, low waves with leading hand), repeat, going up, FU (leap onto your inside foot), 4C facing across the set. On last df, both sides go down, and stay down, before surging forwards for all up. Can do this dance with 8 men but need to move fast in H makes cock-ups likely.

Bluebells of Scotland

Stick dance. Df: sticking, odds strike first. Can be across the set each time, or if called that way, across, top 4 (nos 1 and 2 strike 3 and 4, while 5,6 strike across), bottom 4 (3, 5 strike 4, 6, while top couple strike across). See videos for detail.
OY = whole round with singing and FtJ clash at end, FU, df, HH, df (top 4), PD, df across, HA, df (bottom 4), PU, df across (or top 4), H, stick across, double time (or time-and-a-half), all up.  Can be done with 8 men. Sticking: across, half, top 4 bottom 4, bottoms up. Middle 4, hands around inc double time. Etc etc. Need to be top 4 bottom 4 before the hey. 8 man OY has to be quick and tight to get back to place in time for FU.
Adderbury Bluebells of Scotland – Thriplow 2015
2017 Krefeld visit Bluebells of Scotland Adderbury (part)

Lads a Bunchum

Stick dance. Df: sticking, first time and fourth times stick in both hands (double), second and fifth stick held in one hand (single), 3rd and 6th: overhead. In overhead evens pivot quickly about left foot, ending back to oppo, stick held horizontal and above head. Oppos strikes it 3 times, then does same turn himself ready to be struck. See video for detail.
OY = 2 notes, whole round with singing FU, df (double), HH, df (single), PD, df (overhead) (odds 1st, pivot about left leg to face out), HA, df (double), PU, df (single), H, df (overhead) end.
Reach Fair 2017 Lads a Bunchum Adderbury

Postman’s Knock

Stick dance. Df = Stick across ‘7 and 6’ with 1 strike half way (after 7), 4 strikes at end, last emphasized. See video for detail. Sticking to a ‘dotted’ rhythm.  FU after every common figure. Double time to end. OY walk round. FU, df, HH, FU, df, PD, FU, df, HA, FU, df, PU, FU, df, H, FU, df, rpt df double time (more like time and a half) to all up. If 8 man, PD starts with bottom couple, then join in turn until all 4 are dancing – no FU before sticking. PD = same in reverse.
Adderbury Postman's Knock video

Princess Royal

Hankerchief dance, ie ‘balls up’, with 2 C after each pair of DS. Unusual structure with df taking place half way through common figures in HH, HA, H, (but at end of PD, PU)). Df = sidestep (ss) right, sidestep left, clap right knee, clap together, clap left knee, clap together, FU. In ss hand does low wide twirls to side in direction of travel. Claps together at eye height. Thigh horizontal for knee clap. OY is 2C then whole round back to place, HH (=1st half, df, 2nd h, df), PD, HA (= 1st half, df, 2nd h, df), PU, hey (=1st h, df, 2nd, df) all up with 2 C. The dance has to be this pattern as the HH, HA and Hey are danced in 2 halves, while there is no break in DR, PD, PU. Other sides (eg Cambridge) do the dance a bit differently. Details of DDMM stepping and hands:

  • DR: 7 bars double step with balls-up, 1 bar capers with waves
  • HH / HR / PU / PD / Hey (each half): 2 bars double step, 2 bar single step, all balls-up
  • FU: 2 bars double step then 1 bar single step with balls-up, capers with waves

Shepherd’s Hey

No hankies but hands still do balls up pattern. Df: face across, clap X2, then clap right (body part)  clap 2X, then clap left (body part), clap under rt leg, clap under l leg, clap in front, clap behind, end w clap in front at face height. Each common figure except H has (claps) half way through and at end. (claps) = clap front, behind, front. Final front clap at chest level, with hands going outwards a bit past shoulder width after the clap. OY is walk round with singing, face across (claps), FU (claps after each), df (ankle), HH, df (hips), PD, df (chest), HA, df (lips – blow a kiss), PU, df (leap in the air), H (with no claps half way), all up.


Stick dance, also known as Beaux. Stepping is: 3 lots springy single steps. One lot forward, one on the spot, one lot to push back to start, caper, caper , clash. Df: (corners, across) X2 pattern. Middles move a pace back to give room. Corners: each corner in turn: on your spot, butt on floor, then lay stick down to hit floor with tip, then action 1 or 2 or 3, end with stamp rt , left), across = clash across the set (NB other sides may do this differently). Action 1: move in towards partner and clash high. Action 2: stamp, don’t more in, shoot across at your partner. Action 3: don’t move in but shoot upwards (at the crows).
OY= long walk round (8 bars, smallish steps, bold, sticks under arm, last bar is the L,R clash in place). FU (twice), df (clash across), HH, df (shoot across), PD, df (shoot crows), HA (1 bar out, 1 bar pause half-way, 1 bar swing back taking strain, repeat), ), df (clash across), PU, df (shoot across), H (nowadays we do a double hey (ie hey and then same again). This requires men to move fast to get back in time), df (shoot crows) and end with all up. Some sides end by shooting the musician…
At Thaxted 2015, by Ian Trouse, Adderbury Shooting
Ian Trouse 2014 video of our Ring Meeting. Includes Adderbury Shooting from c 2.05 min in. (intercut a bit with some massed dancing)