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History and Background of some Call Names

Top   ↓ Alamo Style   ↓ Allemande   ↓ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↓ Cast Off   ↓ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Alamo Alamo Style
When I was asked some years ago, what the name Alamo Style meant, I answered that the diagram of the Alamo Style resembled the groundplan of a four-cornered fortress, and the Alamo looked like that. But when I attended the National SD Convention in San Antonio, and saw the irregular shape of the area defended in 1835, it was clear that my explanation could not be true. So I wrote to Rickey Holden asking what he had in mind when he created this call. Some months later, he phoned that he was changing trains in Hannover, and had three hours to spare. On this occasion he told me, that he was dance leader for the recreation parks in San Antonio, when the Texas Doceydoe was renamed as Do Paso. Now since El Paso City had a square dance call of its own, San Antonio needed one too! So he remodeled Doci Ballonet, and gave it the name Alamo Style.

Top   ↓ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↓ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↓ Cast Off   ↓ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Allemande Allemande
In spite of its enunciation, Allemande is a French word and means "German". In some folk dances of Southern Germany there are a lot of arm turns - some quite complicated - and therefore French dancing masters named any arm or hand turn "une Allemande". In contra dancing, this term is still used in the old sense. In MWSD it is restricted to Left Allemande, which is always done with the (momentary) corner, and ends facing the (momentary) partner on the circumference of the square.
Some believe that Allemande comes from "à la main" (French: by the hand). But this is a made-up explanation by someone who did not know the true origin. If it was true, there would be no reason for the spelling.
As an example see my explanation for the term Alamo.
The picture is taken from the painting "Le Bal Paré", by Auguste de Saint-Aubin.

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↓ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↓ Cast Off   ↓ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Arky Style
Arky means "from Arkansas". The people from Arkansas are suspected to do things in a queer and funny way. For square dancing, this name was first used by Cal Golden (from Hot Springs, Arkansas) in the

(head) couples right hand star / back by the left, left hand star
pick up your corner, arm around, turn that Star from Arkansas
inside out, outside in, turn that Arky Star again ...

So "Arky Style" means a setup where two couples are standard, while the other two couples are half-sashayed; or, in an extended sense, two gents facing two ladies.
Offsprings are:
Arky Allemande: A Left Turn Thru, which ends on the circumference of the square. May be called for any combination of ladies and gents.
Arky Grand: A right and Left Grand where four dancer go the normal way, while the other four go wrong way.

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↑ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↓ Cast Off   ↓ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Cast Off
Cast off is a Contra Dance expression, and makes "literal" sense only there, not in square dancing. In the usual contra dance lane, couples exchange places regularly, to dance in a new subset within that lane. Twohundred years ago, the most common way to achieve this progression was: The active couples promenaded down the lane (in contra dancing, "down" means away from the music), returned to the couple which stood below them, and each of the actives dances around the neighbor, to end one place below. (Nowadays, the neighbors usually assist this movement.) Since the actives with this turn leave the former group, and join a new one, it was named a cast off. The outward direction of this movement was an additional reason.
This evolution was adopted into Square Dancing in this form: from a completed double pass thru - put centers in, cast off three quarters. Here you still can see the contra dance origin. Other uses of this call are later developments.
Outside the dance world, cast off means to detach the hawsers, the ropes which hold the ship to the quay.

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↑ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↑ Cast Off   ↓ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Dosado is the French word dos-à-dos (back to back), and it should be danced that way.

Do-ci-do, Docey doe
A movement in Southern Traditional Square Dance, with even more variants than different spellings. Basically, it is danced by two couples with a series of left arm turns with partner, right arm turns with opposite.
The great song and dance collector Cecil J. Sharp searched for ancient English folk songs in the Appalachian Mountains, and quite unexpectedly found the Kentucky Running Set. He described it in the 5th part of his Country Dance Book (1917), and wrote in the introduction: "It is not easy to give a satisfactory derivation of Do-Si, or Do-si-do, the name by which one of the most characteristic movements of the Running Set is universally known in the mountains. The obvious explanation is that it is a corruption of the French dos-à-dos, but, if this be so, it is, of course, a misnomer because the Do-si-do of the Running Set is quite a different evolution from that which is ordinarily understood by the Back-to-Back. The French derivation may, nevertheless, be the correct one, for it is quite in accordance with the habits of the mountaineer to call things by their wrong names, e.g. Laurel for Rhododendron; Ivy for Laurel; Vine for Ivy; etc."

Do Paso
The Texas Docey Doe could be danced by any number of couples. It was just: turn partner left, turn corner right, and so on, as long as the caller chanted a verse of The Walrus And The Eskimo, or whatever he liked. At the 1949 Summer Institute run by "Pappy" Lloyd Shaw, he suggested to Herb Greggerson (born in El Paso, TX) that this form should be renamed as Do Paso, to make it different from the Docey Doe he had described in his book Cowboy Dances. Herb agreed, and between them they had enough authority to make this change effective.

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↑ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↑ Cast Off   ↑ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Recycle Recycle
Ever wondered why the movement "Recycle" got its name? The Recycle we all know from the Mainstream Program starts in an Ocean Wave and ends as facing couples. But in the Advanced Program there is another variant of this call, which starts in facing couples and ends in an Ocean Wave. If you do both versions of this call in a row, you end in the formation you started with.
These two variants of the call are the reason, why the Facing Couples Rule* must not be applied to Recycle, and why the Mainstream Definitions say about Recycle: Starting Formation - Ocean Waves only.
* Facing Couples Rule: If you stand in facing couples, but need an Ocean Wave for the next call, just step into an Ocean Wave and dance that call.
Originally these both forms should be danced simultanously: In a Quarter Tag Formation, the center wave danced the Recycle with big loopes to become outsides, while the outsides stepped forward and danced the Facing Couples Recycle. In the Challenge Program this is called as All Eight Recycle.

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↑ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↑ Cast Off   ↑ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↑ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Half Sashay
Sashay is a corruption of the French word "chasser" = to hunt. In the first place, it meant a series of quick side-close steps. (In country dancing and in round dancing, it still is used in this sense. And in ballet dancing, this is called chassé.) In some quadrilles, partners exchanged places with four sashay-steps, balanced (or bowed to the neighbor), and sashayed back. Later this was called a sashay, even when it was not danced with sashay-steps. The first half, of course, was a half sashay. Nowadays, half sashy is such a fixed term in MWSD, that the call "full sashay" hardly would be understood; you must call it as twice a half sashay.

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↑ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↑ Cast Off   ↑ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↑ Recycle   ↑ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

See-saw is a corruption of the word sashay, which in turn is a corruption of the French word chasser. In the 50s, the evolution "walk all around your corner - see-saw your partner" was called as "sashay 'round your corner - sashay 'round your partner". But only the men walked on the eight-shaped path; the ladies simply moved forward and back, forward and back (as in "ladies in, men sashay"). To move around each other with eye contact, as in a contra dance gypsy, is a later styling. Then came up the singing call (or rather the singing quadrille) MY PRETTY GIRL, where the refrain starts with the words: "Walk all around the left hand lady, and you see-saw 'round your taw". This became so popular, that it set the standard for the wording. Then it was discovered, that see-saw was similar to a reverse dosado, and the term was used in this sense as well. Therefore see-saw was the only term on the CALLERLAB list with a twofold definition. But since April 2003, CALLERLAB recommends that the term "see-saw" should only be used for a left shoulder gypsy, and a left shoulder dosado should be called as left dosado.
From my internet friends I also got two explanations for the word "taw". One says, it comes from the word "to tow" and means some kind of a trailer. The other says, it comes from the Gaelic word "tor" for a stone pillar. This word is the source for the name of Tory, a rocky island at the west coast of Ireland, which in turn was godfather for the British Conservative Party. The name tor/taw was later used for the goal marble, usually the biggest and prettiest of your marbles.

Top   ↓ Alamo Style   ↓ Allemande   ↓ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↓ Cast Off   ↓ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↓ Recycle   ↓ (half) Sashay   ↓ See-Saw   ↓ Taw   ↓ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

Thar Star (Allemande) Thar
In the 1940's, there was quite an alphabet of "Allemande Breaks", e.g.
Allemande left to an allemande "A", go right and left and half sashay ...
Allemande left and allemande "B", go right and left, swing number three ...
Allemande left and allemande "F", balance your partner and swing your heft ...
Allemande left to an allemande "K", box the gnat, go the other way ...
Allemande left like allemande "O", go right and left with a dopaso ...

Among them was one credited to Dr. "Pappy" Lloyd Shaw:
Allemande left where you "R", go right and left and form a star ...
How and why the letter "R" became the word "Thar" is obscure; maybe because "thar" is dialect for "there". In any case, the Tibetan Yak has no share in it.

Not quite serious:
Allemande left like allemande "W" (DoubleU); There 's no such call, don't let it trouble you.

See also: History of Square Dance

Top   ↑ Alamo Style   ↑ Allemande   ↑ Arky (Style, Allemande, Grand)   ↑ Cast Off   ↑ Dosado - Docey doe - Do Paso   ↑ Recycle   ↑ (half) Sashay   ↑ See-Saw   ↑ Taw   ↑ (Allemande) Thar   ↓ unten

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Published 2003-08-08   /   additions: 2008-04-25 / 2015-05-22   /   Heiner Fischle, Hannover, Germany