The Dance of the month is: HOLE IN THE WALL

For those of you who prefer to know a little of the history of your dances Hole in the Wall is recorded in Playford's "The English Country Dancing Master" dated 1695 making it post period. Playford was, however, simply collecting traditional music and dances so it can be argued that the dance itself is period.

The kidnapping itself (cutting in or changing partners), however, IS period and is mentioned by Arbeau in 1589 albeit when discussing the Alman.
"In dancing the Alman the young men sometimes steal the damsels from their partners and he who has been robbed seeks to obtain another damsel. But I do not hold with this behaviour because it might lead to quarrels and heart burning" - Arbeau

The dance itself is very simply the steps being:
Active couple: reverance, cast down the outside, up the middle to home, reverance
Inactive couple: reverance, cast up the outside, down the middle to home, reverance
Active Lord and Inactive lady: reverance, switch places, reverance
Inactive lord and Active Lady: reverance, switch places, reverance
All join hands, half turn, active couple drop hands (still holding inactive couple) and cast off down the line.

Some notes on flirting:
This dance is LOADED with places to flirt. (Feel free to swap genders in this paragraph but I am male and will talk that way). You can enter the dance after it has begun, flirt with the lady you just joined and then swap partners, repeating this proceedure all the way down the line. Special attention should be given to the flirting when you are changing places with the opposite lady -- NEVER LOSE EYE CONTACT -- and when you are reverancing your lady.

Now on to the kidnapping. There are two basic types of kidnaps, the outside kidnap and the inside kidnap. There are 3 main outside kidnaps: the cast off kidnap, the diagonal crossover kidnap, and the pre-circle kidnap. The cast off kidnap is far and away the easiest. As couple A casts off to circle couple I, the kidnapper (man K) simply steps ahead of man A in the dance and walks back up the middle with lady A. A simple variation on this is the double steal where both members of couple A are replaced by couple K.




The single kidnap can be countered by having Ma walk down through the middle to pick up his lady, or to step across and parade her around her side instead.

The Diagonal Crossover kidnap is much more difficult and demand a much finer sense of timing. The kidnapper stands behind the man he will be cutting out. When the target reverances to start the crossover the kidnapper steps in front of him and crosses with the lady. This kidnap may require a lot of practice before you are ready to try it in a formal setting.


Finally the pre-circle kidnap. In this case the kidnapper waits on the ladies side of the line and waits for both cross-overs to be finished. Before the foursome can join hands to begin the circle the kidnapper simply steps in front of the gentleman he wishes to replace and joins hands with the others.

The inside kidnaps are a method for changing partners in the dance. The consist of the inside crossover kidnap. This can be played two ways the "inactive man/active woman kidnap" (MiWa) or the "Active man/inactive woman kidnap" (MaWi). In the first case the inactive lord simply begins his normal crossover but moves himself to cause the men's positions to be reversed:


For the Active woman to perform this kidnap she must manoeuver the inactive man to the position between her and her old partner.

A second method of handling this kidnap is for the inactive man to execute a swap at the moment when the active man and inactive lady are changing. This requires VERY close timing and the positions of all dancers must be correct after the swap.


The distortion of the positions is obvious here. At this point the active couple switch places and the dance continues.

The Active man/Inactive Lady is handled by having both switches done normally. Then in the short pause between the second switch and the half circle the active man steps across to the position between the inactive couple.


Then the circle begins.

The Final method is the "hole" kidnap. After the set is over (circle is finished and the active couple couple has released hands) the Active man does not let go of the inactive man's hand. Instead he steps around him and becomes the inactive man.


At all times when stealing or dancing this remember that grace and timing are everything. If your kidnapping disrupted the dance or left the person you cut out no graceful exit then it FAILED. This means that hip-checks are out. It is also considered impolite to try and bluff away a successful steal. If you have been cut out leave gracefully.