The Girl I Left Behind Me

{1932}


Introduction

The Girl I Left Behind Me is a square dance described in Boyd and Dunlavy's Old Square Dances of America (1932), one of the earliest sources on modern American square dancing.

Highlights of this dance include lots of swinging, and the fact that everyone is dancing all the time.



The Formation

A square of eight dancers, Follows on the right.

Couples are numbered 1 through 4 counterclockwise around the set starting with the couple with their back to the music.


The Dance

The dance starts with Boyd and Dunlavy's standard introduction:


Introduction (40 counts)

All eight balance and all eight swing,
A left allemande
And a right hand grand,
Meet your partner and
Promenade eight
Till you come straight


All eight balance and swing, in one of two ways:

1) Facing partner, back away from partner four steps, approach partner four steps, and swing eight counts (16 counts total), OR

2) Facing partner, step right, close without weight, step left, close without weight, and repeat that, then swing eight counts (16 counts total).

Then turn your corner halfway around by the left hand (8 counts), and start a grand chain with your partner, offering right hand to partner, passing by, offering left hand to the next person you meet, passing by, and offering right hand to partner halfway around the set (8 counts). Then promenade counterclockwise around the set to your home place with right hands crossed over left (8 counts), or arm in arm, with her left elbow linked to his right.


Figure (128 counts)

First couple balance and swing, out to the right;
Pass right through and swing that girl behind you, on to the next;
Pass right through and swing that girl behind you, on to the next;
Pass right through and swing that girl behind you, on to the next;
Single promenade with the lady in the lead,
Turn right back on the very same track and swing that girl behind you.
Single promenade with the lady in the lead,
Turn right back on the very same track and swing that girl behind you.
Single promenade with the lady in the lead,
Turn right back on the very same track and swing that girl behind you.
Now you're home...


First couple only balance and swing as in the introduction, but this time the swing is an eight count swing, for a total of sixteen counts. End facing couple number two.

Pass through couple number two as in a right and left (4 counts), but with no hands (i.e., pass through by the right shoulder), then everyone turn solo to the right to face the person you passed by (4 counts), and swing them eight counts (16 counts total). [If you do this all in a continuous motion, getting there just in time, it feels a bit like a gypsy and swing if you happen to know that from contra dancing.]

Then the first Lead takes the second Follow to do the same figure with the third couple, leaving the first Follow with the second Lead in the second couple's position (16 counts total).

Then the first Lead takes the second Follow to do the same figure with the third couple, leaving the second Follow with the third Lead in the third couple's position (16 counts total).

Then the first Lead takes the third Follow to do the same figure with the fourth couple, leaving the third Follow with the fourth Lead in the fourth couple's position (16 counts total).

Everyone turns one quarter to the right and walks forward counterclockwise around the set, with the Follows leading the way in a single file line (8 counts). Then the Leads turn halfway clockwise and swing the Follow who was behind them in the line (8 counts).

Repeat this single file line and swing figure twice more (16 counts each time), ending up swinging your partner. It is noted that at this point, "couples should be in their own places though this is not essential." To make this happen, each single file promenade and swing needs to travel either 1/3 or 2/3 around the circle. 1/3 in eight steps feels slow, so 2/3 in eight steps is likely what's intended.


Repeat Introduction (40 counts)


Second Couple Does the Figure (128 counts)


Repeat Introduction (40 counts)


Third Couple Does the Figure (128 counts)


Repeat Introduction (40 counts)


Fourth Couple Does the Figure (128 counts)


Repeat Introduction (40 counts)


The Music

Boyd and Dunlavy recommend "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "Grey Eagle," or "Buffalo Girls," but any square dance tune will do.


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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