The Gittisham Display dance incorporating double teacup chains and double beermug chains.

First published October 2014.

8x32 bars, suitable music as selected by Jeroka - one of our local bands - will be added later.

Formation - double square with two couples side by side on each side of a large square. 16 dancers.

This dance was developed and practised at Gittisham Folk Dance Club during 2014 following my experiences at Chippenham Folk Dance Festival in 2012. I was much taken with Colin Hume's calling of double teacup chains in the splendid Olympiad hall - and by Mike Courthold's comment that seeing Colin Hume telling dancers where they were going wrong was like watching someone herding cats. However, it seemed unfair that it was only the women who were expected to do the 'double teacups' and all men had to do was receive women and send they off in a particular direction. So I tried working out a dance that meted out the same pleasure to men. Originally, I used double teacup chains for the men as well as for the girls, but following Lynne Render's (single) teacups and beermugs dance at the Eastbourne folk dance festival in 2014, I changed it so that men do a double beermug chain instead. It makes little difference, because (in theory) you always get back where you started at the end of these chains.

There is no need for 'introductory turns' at the start of the double teacup or beermug chains because the music (32 bars for only 12 arm turns) is partly used up by the extra distances the dancers have to travel in such a large set. Nevertheless very fast ceilidh dancers might like to include them. At the end of each chain, the final turn with partners can have an extra courtesy turn to fill out the music, if required. I teach this final sequence as 'side/head/cuddle' for the heads or 'side/cuddle' for the sides. During the dance it is a decision for each couple if they have time to include it.

A particular feature of the dance as written is that if the dancers are 'colour coded' wearing tops of matching colours, all the 32 stars that occur during the 4 double chains are 'uni-colour'. Thus, top men might be green, side men blue, top ladies red and side ladies white. These colours will be assumed below, when I add some diagrams. In this case the first star will be red (4 head girls 0.75 right star), the second white (4 side girls, 1.25 left star) and so on. Each double chain has 8 stars, the whole dance produces 32. It is easy for dancers (and onlookers) to see if anyone is in the wrong star just by looking for a colour mismatch.

The sequence of the dance is as follows: please refer to this page for the full notes on a double teacup chain. Some basic figures are reproduced below for convenience - a double beermug chain is the mirror image, head men start with a left hand star 3/4 and they move from one coloured box to the next clockwise not anti-clockwise. For men, right hand stars are 1.25 turns. The mantra 'side, head, new star' denoting moves to be made in each 'box' remains valid. These double chains, once taught to reasonably experienced dancers, can be called simply by prompting the stars. It might look difficult - but it is actually quite easy, provided it is taught using the 'side/head/star method.

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First double teacup chain (girls) 32 bars. Everyone has their original partner. Head and side dancers can be 'colour coded'.

Progression (simple figure also 32 bars).

First double beermug chain (men)

Progression (same simple figure)

Second double teacup chain (girls, from different positions on the floor and with a different man)

Progression (same simple figure)

Second double beermug chain (men, from the same positions on the floor but with a different woman)

Progression (same simple figure)

All dancers should get back to their original places and partners at the end of the final progression.


The progression as written (32 bars) is rather bland but it allows for each set of subsequent stars to be 'uni-colour'.

Face partner.

Do Si Do partner (4 bars).

Chain past 4 (partner is number 1) and stand by number 5, but don't do anything with him, or her.(This swaps over heads and sides.) 4 bars

New side men star chain (half left star, right in right to diagonal opposite girl who puts her left arm around to turn the man into place). 8 bars.

NOTE: This move is unusual and is a mirror image of a ladies star chain. In some dances couples start on the 'wrong' side of each other in the real world (as in Levi Jackson danced improper where the men's chains are right hands in the middle of the set). A half left star works here (in the Gittisham dance) because the men need to end up proper, with the girls having given R in R to the man coming towards them and left arm round his waist, ready to start the next move with their right hands. An Irish Set dance with a man's chain (actually a corner chain for men) can be viewed here (the first chain in the figure starts at 0.50, ends at 0.57) but again it is a variation on a theme with an unusual ending! 

All eight ladies star chain with right hands in centre of set - heads chain to heads, sides to sides. 8 bars. You meet your new partner.

Do Si Do R with this new partner then Do Si Do L. 8 bars


The final moves are deliberately easy to allow thinking time for what comes next -  a double teacup or a double beermug? This new chain should be commenced immediately after the final Do Si Do unless an introductory turn is called to use up some music for very fast dancers. I have never found this to be necessary.

I will add diagrams later showing how the 'coloured dancers' progress around the set but this is easy to work out because all the complexity of the double chains is irrelevant - only the progression sequence needs to be considered. After the first progression, all heads are in side positions and vice-versa, and the original heads have a new partner. Original sides are now in heads position but retain their original partners.

After the second progression, no-one has their original partner, original heads and sides are back as heads and sides and all the men (but none of the women) are back in original positions. So now the girls have the moderately difficult job of doing their second double teacup chain from different positions - but it is not too difficult because head girls are still heads and so still start with a 3/4 right star, as they did at the outset of the dance. And of course sides are still sides.

After the third progression, sides and heads are again swapped over and the men will be where they were after the first progression. This is fortunate for them, because they now do their second double beermug chain from the same positions on the floor as the first time - so no excuses to get it wrong. But it is now the turn of the original head couples (who are presently sides) to have their original partners back with them. All the men have a different partner than they had for their first double beermug chain - so if any of them were were relying on support from a woman who helped them the first time they won't get it, she'll be diagonally opposite!

The dance as presently written has no time for a celebratory final swing, if indeed celebrations are in order......but the final two Do-Si-Do moves could be replaced by a balance and swing for 8 bars, provided everyone is back with their original partner and in their original positions.

As of October 2014 Gittisham dancers have successfully danced all parts of the dance but never all together with everyone in their correct 'colours' - we are a small club and getting 16 good but busy dancers together and outside of 'normal' club evenings is a challenge. Larger clubs might like to try the dance and produce a video!

Basic moves for folk dancing including simple teacup chains

Grand square moves

Double teacup chains

Gittisham Folk Dance Club

Gittisham Dances - new dances involving teacup and beermug chains.

Folk Dancing in Devon

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