Upon a Summers Day

(The Garland)

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Introduction

Upon a Summers Day (also later known as The Garland) is the first dance in the first edition of Playford's English Dancing Master (1651), and also one of the easiest and most satisfying.

It's the perfect introduction to many of the fundamental forms and figures of English country dancing.



The Formation

Longways for six (three couples), proper (with all of the Follows to the right of the Leads facing up the hall).


The Dance

This dance has a clear verse chorus structure, with three verses.


Verse 1 (32 counts)

Up and Back (8 counts): Taking hands with partner, walk four steps up the hall, and fall back four steps down the hall.

Set and Turn Single (8 counts): Facing partner without hands, step side right, close left without weight, side left, close without weight, and turn solo in place by walking around a small clockwise circle with four steps. (The modest step close style of the set is one of the few pieces of footwork explicitly described in the source, although you'll very often see it replaced with a more energetic leaped triple step, or sometimes even a pas de basque, today. You'll also see some communities dance it as single left, single right, and turn counterclockwise, but the majority do right, left, clockwise.)

Repeat Up and Back (8 counts)

Repeat Set and Turn Single (8 counts)


Chorus (48 counts)

Long Lines (8 counts): Taking hands with line of same role, approach partners for four steps, then back away for four steps.

Arches for First Couple (8 counts): The second and third couples form arches with their neighbor of the same role, and the first couple travels down the center of the set, out through their respective roles' arch, and ends up in the place of the third couple. While it's not explicitly specified, couples two and three usually slide up the hall to make room for the first couple at the bottom.

Repeat Long Lines (8 counts)

Arches for Second Couple (8 counts): Repeat the arches figure based on the place you're in, i.e., the original second couple is now traveling through the arches formed by the original third and first couples.

Repeat Long Lines (8 counts)

Arches for Third Couple (8 counts): Repeat the arches figure based on the place you're in, i.e., the original third couple is now traveling through the arches formed by the original first and second couples.


Verse 2 (32 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 the dance with the more dynamic "Cecil Sharp" style of siding. In a modern context, either is fine, as long as you and your partner/community agree.)

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)

Side Left (8 counts): Approach partner with four steps, ending left shoulder to left shoulder, then back away four steps.

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)


Repeat Chorus (48 counts)


Verse 3 (32 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.)

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)

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

Set and Turn Single (8 counts)


Repeat Chorus (48 counts)


The Music

Here is a nice tune for dancing Upon a Summers Day:


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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