Gathering Peascods

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Gathering Peascods is a dance from Playford's English Dancing-Master.

Steps and Movements Used

  • Doubles forward by the left foot and right (DL and DR) and back (DLb and DRb)
  • Turn Single (TS)
  • Clap at the end of a double
  • Sides (SdR and SdL)
  • Arms (AR and AL)



This dance starts with any number of couples (though it is more practical to limit the circle, perhaps to about seven couples or fewer) in a circle, man on the left and woman on the right.

First Verse

Holding hands around the circle and facing left, do two forward doubles around to the left, let go and turn single; repeat to the right.



2nd Strain

The men go once clockwise around the center holding hands, and end up back in their places (see notes below). Then the women do likewise.

Any footwork you like (as long as it gets you there without mishap).

3rd Strain

Men go forward to meet in the middle, and clap their hands. Women go forward to meet and clap, as the men go back out. Men go in again to meet and clap (see notes below), as the women go back out. Men turn single while going out to their places. Repeat this entire figure with reversed roles, the women going first.

DL Clap (men)
DL Clap (women) simultaneous with DRb (men)
DL Clap (men) simultaneous with DRb (women)
TS (men)
DL Clap (women)
DL Clap (men) simultaneous with DRb (women)
DL Clap (women) simultaneous with DRb (men)
TS (women)

Second Verse

Sides by the right with partners, turn single, sides by the left, turn single.



Do the first chorus with reversed roles, so that the women go first where the men went first before.

Third Verse

Arms by the right with partners, turn single, arms by the left, turn single.



As first chorus.


This version is more specific about footwork than the original Playford instructions. The kind of doubles used to circle around at the beginning is not specified in Playford, but it appears that both of the first two doubles must go the same way around the circle, because when the figure is repeated it goes "back againe". The doubles and the specific feet recommended in the third strain are conjectural, and may reasonably be replaced with other footwork.

It is sometimes taught that one should turn single after circling round the middle (the chorus figure done to the 2nd strain of music), but this is not in any way supported by the Playford instructions. It may reasonably be regarded as an optional variation, suitable for experienced and agile dancers or for use in a small circle.

Some dancers do this in very large circles and adapt to the formation by having people go only part of the way around the middle. This is not supported by Playford's instructions which specifically say "goe round in the inside, and come to your places". It is also abnormal relative to the style of the period, in which it is usual for the figures to bring dancers back to their starting places in a reliable way.

The "don't clap" version

There is a version of the chorus in which each third clap is omitted. The explanation for this is that the Playford instructions do not mention a clap at that point. However, the usual form of that version includes claps at certain other points where the Playford instructions do not mention claps, even though they spell out who meets and who goes back.

The claps that might belong in this figure are either specified or not mentioned in the Playford instructions as follows: A clap is called for by name only once, the first time the men meet. The second clap is called for by reference to the first. The third and sixth claps are not mentioned, and are not done in the "don't clap" version. The fourth and fifth claps are also not mentioned, but they seem to be taken for granted and are usually if not always done in "don't clap" versions. If the fourth and fifth claps were omitted, the apparently implied symmetry of the figure would be destroyed.

If the author of Playford's instructions meant that some of these possible claps, though not mentioned, are still supposed to be done, then it would have been necessary to say specifically which potentially implied claps (if any) are not supposed to be done. But the instructions are not clear on either point (whether to fill in claps not mentioned, or whether to omit claps not mentioned). So it would seem that if any claps other than the first two out of six were to be done, then the author trusted the reader to fill in the claps at the appropriate moments, presumably by an uncomplicated analogy with the claps that are specified when men or women meet. This conclusion is supported by the general conciseness of the instructions—the author even used "as much" at one point, to refer to a longer phrase that mentions a clap, and later used "meet" in a similar context when a clap is not mentioned, and where "as much" would have been a few letters longer.

One could still argue that none of the foregoing excludes the possibility of not clapping. But to assume that some meetings should be done without claps is to assume that the instructions come from an incompetent author. If this author intended to describe a figure in which there is no distinction between meeting with a clap and meeting without a clap, then the author (writing for his contemporaries) had no need to mention that distinction. But if the author intended to describe a figure in which there is such a distinction, then the author's total failure to mention it is quite inexplicable. This author even left the reader to infer the claps at the fourth and fifth meetings, while finding it unnecessary to say how these differ from the third and sixth meetings. If a version with claps at some meetings and not others had been intended, then the author's failure to say when not to clap is compounded by this failure to say when to clap. In short, the author seems in all ways oblivious to the idea that such a distinction should be made. An author who did not intend any such distinction can be excused for being oblivious to a point which that author did not mean to address, but the author who did intend such a distinction cannot. So if we assume by default that early dances come from competent authors then we should assume that claps were intended at all of these meetings.

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