Chester Races

Source: Preston (1791), interpreted by Mrs. Pat Woods; published in English Dance & Song, January/February 1956. Vol XX. No. 3
Formation: Longways; Proper; Triple Minor or Three Couples

A1 #1 Lady Set Twice to #2 Man, moving down the set - #2 Lady Move Up
#1 Lady & #3 Man Two Hand Turn - #1 Lady finishes in #2 Lady’s Place
A2 #1 Man the same
B1 #1 Lady with Top Couple and #1 Man with Bottom Couple: Hold Hands in Circles of Three:
Balance Twice; Circle Left Half Way; #1s pass each other by the Right Shoulder to the other end of the set
B2 The same with #1 Lady at the Bottom, #1 Man at the Top - #1s pass by the Left Shoulder to the other end of the set
C1 Full Figure Eights across the Ends: #1 Lady pass #2 Man by the Left Shoulder WHILE #1 Man passes Lady #3 by the Left Shoulder
C2 Top Four: Four Changes of Rights and Lefts
Alternate C2 for a Three Couple Set:
C2 #1s Allemande Right 1/2, Pull By to their own side and Cast Down to the Bottom - #3s Move Up
All: Partner Two Hand Turn

Own tune or any 48 bar reel or march,

The sequence to the A music is a good opportunity for playfully setting to one person then ignoring them to dance with another.

Pat has stayed very true to the original words:

Chester Races

There is a slight challenge in the timing. I have the first Set being done twice to fill the music, and after the Circle Left Half Way I use the last four steps of the B Music to get to the other end of the set. Rather than having the half circles open into lines I would get the inactive couples to make arches and shoot the #1s through to the other end of the set (Shoot the Owl).

The only place that Pat perhaps deviates from the original is in changing the "right & left" to "right-and-left-through". "Right & left" is normally a circular hey, with no courtesy turns, though in some periods it was "right pull by, turn by the left". "Right & Left Through" is an early 20th century move which usually involves a Courtesy Turn. But the terms have been fluid over the decades, so we can't be sure which version Pat meant. Since the dance is Proper, Courtesy Turns would be with the same gender neighbour; the Americans resolve this by doing an Eyes Only Courtesy Turn - no touching - just shoulder to shoulder with your neighbour. I suspect the Circular Hey is the most likely.

Since three couple dances are more popular than Triple Minors these days, I have provided an alternate C2 to move the #1s to the bottom.

The original uses the term foot it which is usually interpreted as "do some fancy footwork to impress everyone". Pat has interpreted it as "balance" which is another word with many meanings. I have a 1950s document entitled "50 Variations of the Balance", so feel free to do any footwork you like!

Original page from English Dance & Song, September 1959

Chester Races

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