The Cumberland Square Eight is done in groups of eight but within the larger group of eight everyone has a partner. The dance is formed when four couples stand in a square facing in the way towards each other. We use the terminology ‘Lady’ and ‘Man’ when describing the roles in the Cumberland Square Eight as it is the easiest way to do it. It can, of course, be man and man and lady and lady or any other identity. 

Traditionally the lady in each couple stands on the right of the man. Each couple is numbered clockwise according to where they are standing in relation to the music. The couple with their backs to the music are couple number 1, number 2 stands to their left, couple number 3 stand opposite couple number one and the couple on the right are number 4.

In bars 1-8, couples 1 and 3 dance across the set either holding hands or in ballroom hold. The men in each couple should pass back to back first, then on the way back, the ladies should pass back to back. For bars 9-16, couples 2 and 4 should repeat the process.

During bars 17-24 couples 1 and 3 dance holding their right hands together to make the shape of a star or wheel and before turning and linking their left hands in the same fashion before dancing in the opposite direction. For bars 25-32 couples 2 and 4 repeat the same section of the dance.

Then during bars 33-40 couples 1 and 3 dance in a basket formation. This is achieved by making a small circle in the middle of the square. The men should join hands behind ladies’ backs, and the ladies’ arms should be on top of men’s. In this position, the group should circle round to their left. If the group turns fast enough often the ladies’ feet can lift off the floor. Just remember to make sure you have enough time to get everyone back on the ground and in place if this happens! The same steps are repeated by couples 2 and 4 in bars 41-48.

For bars 49-56 the full square of couples joins hands and circles round to the left and back. Then finally for bars 57-64 each couple should use a promenade hold (left hand in left, right hand in right on front of you) to dance anti-clockwise around their square before returning to their original spots!

Don’t forget to cheer the other couples in your square on whilst they are dancing!

You can dance The Cumberland Square Eight at the Ceilidh Club – click here for details 

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Check our blog post for more dance instructions