Diagrams and instructions for a double teacup chain - as taught by Colin Hume at Chippenham Folk Festival 2012. I can't find any other diagrams on the internet - so here are mine. Men usually do beermug chains not teacup chains - these are mirror image moves. Updated March 2017.

Despite not being a 'natural born dancer' I have become quite proficient. My dance diary for 2016 shows how much fun and exercise can be had for a few hundred pounds a year.

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Since taking up dancing over 10 years ago I estimate I have danced about 30,000 times and with hundreds of different women.

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Colin Hume's explanations of a double teacup chain are on this webpage.

This is quite a complicated figure for a double square set (16 dancers). When interwoven into a complete dance (where the figures mix up couples and positions in the square set) a double teacup chain is almost guaranteed to defeat even some competent dancers - unless it is first taught properly and all the dancers pay attention. All diagrams show girls as the active dancers and men having an easy time of it! This can soon be remedied of course.......in a full dance the double teacup chain can be done four times (girls, men, girls, men) and starting from different positions and with different partners each time. It is better however for men to do the mirror image dance - a double beermug chain.

The diagrams show both the moves and suggested methods of teaching and calling a double teacup chain.

EITHER all girls OR all men are 'active' during each complete double chain. The rules for the 'static' dancers are very simple - usually the men get the easy role first time through and this is assumed below, with the girls being active and doing a double teacup chain.

The role of the SIDE MEN is to receive each girl in turn from the centre of the set (as she exits a star), to turn her around by whichever hand she offers, and to deliver her to the NEAREST HEAD MAN. Their other function is to maintain the shape of the large square - keep in position on the floor!

The role of the HEAD MEN is to receive each girl in turn from their nearest side man, to turn her around by whichever hand she offers and to deliver her into the centre of the set to commence her next star. Their other function is to maintain the shape of the large square - again, keep in position on the floor!

Single teacup chains can start with every couple doing an introductory left arm turn with their partner. However in these double chains, the distances are greater than in a single square set, so 32 bars fits quite well without any introductory turn or other mechanism to use up 'surplus' music - despite there are only 12 arm turns that normally in a small square set might take only 24 bars. In the large square the central turns are stars, which can be allocated 4 bars each which itself takes the basic 24 to 32 bars. In a simple teacup chain there are only 6 arm turns (excluding any initial and final turns). In practice, 32 bars works very well for a double teacup or double beermug chain.

As in a simple teacup chain each right hand 'middle' move (here these moves become stars) is 3/4 around and each left 'middle' move (here again a star) is 1.25 around (one and a quarter). My explanations of 'middle' and 'cut' moves as used in simple teacup chains are here.

The usual call (in square dancing at least) is "Head ladies in for a teacup chain" - this means head ladies move in start a MIDDLE move (or a 4 person star here) and side ladies start by doing a 'cut' move - or here are guided by their partner across the corner of the set to the nearest head man to do a right arm turn, followed by a left hand 1.25 star. When danced properly, the sequence (and calling) is as follows:

Heads star right - (the first star for the heads is 3/4 right)
Sides star left - (the first star for the sides is 1.25 left)

Heads star left
Sides star right

Heads star right
Sides star left

Heads star left
Sides star right

After the first right star by the head girls, there there are then two left stars, then two right stars etc. Do not call alternate right and left hand stars!!

Problems include: Some women try and dance directly from a side man back to the centre of the set - it is part of the role of side men to steer them towards the nearest head position. Also, there can be either 3 or 5 girls in a star at the same time! It is helpful for the four side girls and the four head girls to identify each other - they should always be in stars together.

The basic formation is a double square.

It is important that the 'static' dancers (here shown as men) ensure that the original neat square formation is maintained.

If the set becomes 'out of shape' it makes the task of the active dancers more difficult.

Side girls start with a move that is similar to that in a simple teacup chain: they start by cutting across a corner of the set but aiming for their nearest head man - and he is NOT necessarily to the diagonal right!

The most important thing is that active dancers know where they are going out of each star. This can be achieved by the rule of 0,1,2 or (easier) the rule of 'next square'.This is all explained below.

teacup basis grid colouredsm.jpg (27175 bytes)

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It is helpful to teach this dance by dividing the large square into four smaller squares. These need to be numbered or lettered on the floor in a logical order A,B,C,D or 1,2,3,4  (=D, A, B, C or 4, 1, 2, 3 etc, depending where you start) ANTICLOCKWISE around the large square. Pieces of paper can be taped to the floor as a teaching aid.

Each head girl will commence the dance with a right hand star 3/4 round and will give a left hand to the man who is TWO PLACES around (anticlockwise) from her starting position = two places to the right. This can be thought of as follows: the head man who is turning her around before she starts each star is her number 0. The next man anticlockwise round the set is her no. 1. Aim for no 2 - this applies coming out of either a RH or a LH star.

The stars are of course merely 'middle' moves but for 4 people at once.

teacup basis grid pathwaysm.jpg (59082 bytes)

The complete path of ONE active dancer. The dance is easy provided you understand where you are going after each of the four stars danced in the centre.

The rule of 0,1,2 is an extension of the rule 'always diagonal right' which applies in a simple 4 couple teacup chain or indeed in a strip the willow square. But in a fast 16 person set, one mistake can be fatal!

An easier rule is to think of progressing around each sub-square in turn and doing the same three moves in each: side-turn, head-turn, commence new star (or SIDE, HEAD, NEW STAR).

Each star will take the dancer to the next sub-square - all she needs to do then is offer her next arm to the side man in that sub-square. Note that two of the 'cut' moves (tracks 3 and 9) are counter-intuitive (red circles) - they are clockwise around the large outer square - with girls moving diagonal left!

In the 10 diagrams that follow the path of the red girl is illustrated. She is dancing the set moving anticlockwise around the four sub-squares, ending back in her original position.

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