Dance

It is difficult to argue that there is a specific type of ‘folk dance’ different to any other, because ordinary English people have always adopted and made their own any type of dance which has come their way and taken their fancy. These often came from abroad and filtered down the social scale “ the waltz, polka, schottische, mazurka “ or were devised as commercial pop dances for the ballroom – the foxtrot, the military two-step, or the many Latin-American dances, for example.

But some styles were indeed found only among ‘the folk’ and were passed on from generation to generation and were in evidence at countless village hops, parties, and other gatherings.

Step-dancing was the basic working-class dance form across the whole country – performed solo, or by two people standing facing each other, or as a three-handed reel, but England was also famous across Europe for its ‘country dances’, in which couples co-operate with others in circles, squares, and longways sets, with set figures and steps. If you go to a ‘barn dance’ or ‘ceilidh’ these days it is basically this repertoire of dances which you will find.