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

White,John white at drexel.edu
Mon Mar 19 10:21:45 EDT 2012

> 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.
> Danihel de Lincolino
It's certainly difficult to get rid of "that's the way I/we've always done it"
prejudices, especially when you can perfectly well  read the instructions to
support that conclusion.  

The little key in Playford's first edition states that "Co." = contrary.  Select
definitions for contrary mean opposite, including specifically 'opposite in 
direction or position'.  Without reading anything else into it, it would seem
that this means that each person ends up "opposite" where he or she
started, for some value of "opposite".  There isn't any fancy language to
indicate a separation, or a strange positioning - just "put ... back ... fall even ...
men cast off to the right".  Sounds like what you (and I) teach to me!

There is another contemporary source to look at:  Lovelace.  On page 28 of
the dances (as indicated in the workbook on my website here:
the third chorus indicates that after taking the hands of the woman right
over against him, "the one [man] shall draw her upwards, and the other
downwards; and presently draw them again close together in their places
holding hands;"  It continues with passing through rather than casting.

So one thing is clearer:  that the men and their opposite/corner/contrary
woman keep holding hands throughout the pull and whatever comes next.
Of course, it couldn't be that simple, so just what does "draw them again
close together in their places" mean"?  Is it the 'push onto the opposite
sides', or might it be 'turn around and pull them back into the square
without changing sides of the square, but switching into each others'

I've reconstructed the dance using the Playford framework (mostly because
of the "cuckolds all in a row" image), but in doing so, the second half of the
chorus becomes confusing.  The instructions are, "then the past part of the
tune being played again, they shall draw them contrary to that as they did
before", with further explanation as to just what that means: "like as he
that draws his woman upward before, shall now draw her downward, and
the other upward".  Unfortunately, I could never figure out how that might
work since the men's position with regard to the top and bottom of the
square (or top and bottom of the hall) don't change in the Playford 
version.  BUT, if the moving duo switch places as the man pulls/draws the
woman away from the square and then back into it, then the men do switch
sides of the hall!

Hmm ... so, does this relate to the problem at hand?  Well, if my little diagram
I just drew on some scratch paper is correct, we end up with each couple
on the contrary side from where they started, and the "cast right/cast left"
from Playford would still work because the couples are improper on the
opposite side of the square.  However, while the Lovelace gives us clues as
to what needs to happen (the man is drawing/pulling the woman in both
parts of the movement, and they're being pulled back into their places,
which could be extended to the m-w file, rather than their original places -
okay, that's a stretch but still), there aren't nearly as many clues in Playford
(all we really have is the 'fall even on the Co. side', which to a clued-in
dancer of the day might mean that man 1 and woman 1 end up 'even'
on the opposite side of the dance from where they started ...) - in fact,
you'd have to be fairly willing to read things into the dance instructions
to make the move, which does work in all respects, fit with what has been
written down.

Still, it's given me a solution to the dilemma of the Lovelace Cuckolds, so thanks
for the excuse to take a 12th look at it!

            \\Dafydd Cyhoeddwr

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