Gathering Peascods

{1651}


Introduction

Gathering Peascods is round country dance in the first edition of Playford's English Dancing Master (1651).

It's a good example of the diversity of shapes that were used at the time (far more than just longways sets).



The Formation

Round for "as many as will," with the Follows to the right of their partners.


The Dance

The dance has a clear verse chorus structure, with three verses:


Verse 1 (24 counts)

Circle Left (8 counts): Take hands all and circle to the left for eight counts. (Many people "slip" this and the other circles in this dance, traveling laterally with quick repeated side-close steps, but no footwork is specified, so walking steps are fine as well, as long as everyone in the circle agrees what the step is going to be.)

Turn Single (4 counts): All turn solo in place by walking around a small circle with four steps. (The majority of communities do most "turn singles" to the right, i.e., clockwise, but given the leftward momentum in cases like this, some turns become counterclockwise turns. There are also a minority of communities that dance all, or at least most, turns counterclockwise.)

Circle Right (8 counts): Take hands all and circle to the right for eight counts.

Turn Single (4 counts): All turn solo in place by walking around a small circle with four steps. (This one is usually, but not always, done as a turn to the right.)


Chorus (56 counts)

Leads Circle Left (12 counts): The Leads take hands in the center and circle left for twelve counts. (This part is sometimes parsed as in for four, takes hands, circle for four, drop hands, and back out for four, but based similar figures in other descriptions, it seems that if that had been meant, it would've been more clearly stated, e.g., by saying to meet, then circle, then fall back, rather than just saying to take hands and go round, as is the case here. The 4+4+4 interpretation is especially inconsistent with the instruction to "come to your places" after going round, which definitely isn't possible with a four count circle with "as many as will" dancers. Now, in practice, even if we do a twelve count circle, if the circle is smaller or larger than the exact right size for a twelve count circle left to bring you once around and back home, it's more likely that you come to a place between two random Follows. While this also wouldn't match the description exactly, this flexible "roulette mixer" nature of the dance actually makes it more fun, in my opinion.)

Follows Circle Left (12 counts): The Follows do just as the Leads did. (In this case, if they travel exactly as far as the Leads did, they'll end up back with their partner, but in practice, you'll probably end up between two random Leads, which is fine.)

Leads' In and Outs (16 counts): The Leads go in four counts and clap hands, then back out while the Follows go in four counts and clap. While the Follows back out, the Leads go in again, then turn single back to place (i.e., they go forward in, then spin clockwise back to place).

Follows' In and Outs (16 counts): Repeat the last phrase, but with the Follows doing what the Leads did and vice versa.


Verse 2 (24 counts)

Side Right (8 counts): Approach partner with four steps, ending right shoulder to right shoulder, then back away four steps. (This is the historical style for siding, although you may also see some people do it with the more dynamic "Cecil Sharp" style of siding, in which you trade places and then trade places back home. In a modern context, either is fine, as long as you and your partner/community agree.)

Turn Single (4 counts)

Side Left (8 counts): Approach partner with four steps, ending left shoulder to left shoulder, then back away four steps. (Or do the Cecil Sharp styling, if that's your community's preference.)

Turn Single (4 counts)


Chorus (56 counts): But this time, the Follows do the circle first, followed by the Leads, then the Follows do the In and Outs first, followed by the Leads.


Verse 3 (24 counts)

Arm Right (8 counts): Taking right arm with partner, walk eight steps clockwise around each other to place. (Many different styles are seen for arming including: touching forearms, linking elbows, holding forearms, or holding hands, low or high. The only real requirement is that you and your partner/community agree on how you're going to do it.)

Turn Single (4 counts)

Arm Left (8 counts): Taking left arm with partner, walk eight steps counterclockwise around each other to place.

Turn Single (4 counts)


Chorus (56 counts): Like the first time, with Leads doing each part first.


The Music

Here is a nice tune for dancing Gathering Peascods, but be warned that it doesn't have an intro, so the circle left starts at the very first note:


Sources


© 2020 Nick Enge


For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.


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