[SCA-Dance] Interpreting the last chorus of "Cuckolds All A Row"

Tim McDaniel tmcd at panix.com
Sun Mar 18 18:39:50 EDT 2012

I taught Cuckolds All A Row last week at the local dance practice as
per the Terp booklet.  It was met with cheers as a sane version of
Argeers.  Someone e-mailed me about a video of it.

On Sun, 18 Mar 2012, ... wrote:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DCeMghrVaU
> have you guys seen this version [of Cuckolds All A Row]? the end is
> a little bit different but it may not agree with playford notes

Thank you for sending the link.  It gave me much food for thought.

[checks] Ah, Gwommy.  How the heck did they do a video that's all
black-and-white except for Gwommy in purple?  More to the point, why?

Gwommy goes and Does Things with dances, based on closer and more
careful reading of Playford than I do.  In this case, I am inclined to
disagree with him, though I see his point.

For the poussette (push me pull you), Terp and I had the same thing
that we [Bryn Gwlad dancers] do in Argeers: each couple moving in a U
pattern on the floor and oriented with trespect to the room the same
way throughout, like a compass pointing north no matter how you wave
it around.  Casting is with your partner along the original sides.
The second poussette retraces the same path as the first, but in

Gwommy has them start the same in that the pairs shove back.  But then
the man backs up and the woman goes forward while the man backs into
the other man's original position ... so the woman ends up back home,
and both couples are improper.  The first casting is with one's
partner, but it's sideways to the original orientation of the set.
The second poussette is the same (men push out and back into their
original place), and the casting is along the original sides.

Terp (vertical bars and dashes indicate hand-holding, not partnering):

W2  M2         M2  W2
|   |    -->   |   |
M1  W1         W1  M1


W2  M2         W2--M1
|   |    --> 
M1  W1         M2--W1

You probably have to look at the video to understand it.

The Playford text is

"Men put the Co. We. back by both hands, fall even on the Co. side
men cast off to the right hand, your We. following, come to the same
place again.  _._  put them back again, fall on your own side, men
cast off to the left hand, and come to your places, the We. following."

Gwommy is interpreting "fall even on the Co. side" as the pair both
landing on the side where the contrary started.  The men have to back
in to their new spots because the next move is to cast to his right,
so that space to his right has to be clear to walk into, and the cast
is "your We. following", so you have to cast with your partner. [1]

http://www.rendancedb.org/dance_detail.php?id=57 links to five sets of
instructions.  (Academy of Courtly Pursuits's link is broken, but you
can Google for it.)  Greg isn't clear enough, but he may agree with
Gwommy.  The other four agree with me.

So the Gang of Four are interpreting "the Co. side" not as meaning
"the side where the contrary women started", but as a different
meaning of "contrary" -- the "contrary" from the point of view of the
couple, so the "Co. side" is the space occupied by the other

I don't know if other dances have the same pousset.  That would be a
useful indication.  Argeers has

"Put each others Wo. backe by both hands, slip to the right side; fall
downe on the contrary side, set and turne S." et cetera.

We interpret "contrary side" as into the other couple's places, but
then again, it says "slip to the right side", which Cuckolds doesn't.
Is it one of those things we should interpolate if missing, or not?

At the moment, I'm more inclined to do the version I taught: pousset
as how we do Argeers, going into the other couple's place.  It may be
stubbornness -- it may be useful to teach the way most other people do
it (but then how can error ever be corrected?).  On the other hand,
the theme of the dance is largely "do it once oriented one way, then
do it oriented the other way", like my reconstruction of Lull Me
Beyond Thee, and Gwommy's version certainly does that more than mine.

Thanks again for the link.  And my apologies to Star, for exulting
last week "And there's no possible second way to interpret the final
chorus!".  O me of little imagination.

Danihel de Lincolino

[1] I first carelessly saw him as proposing the pair just pushing the
woman into the other man's place,



But then the casting doesn't work: if a man casts right, he's
following his woman, not leading.  Or he instantly turns 90 degrees
right before casting to his right, but then he's leading his corner,
not his partner.)

Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com

More information about the Sca-dance mailing list