Explanation of some common barn dance steps

Allemande right (left) Partners join right (left) hands and walk once around each other in a clockwise (anticlockwise) direction
Arch In a 2-hand arch one couple will face each other, join both hands (left to right and right to left) and raise them into an arch. Other couples may move under this 2-hand arch. In a single-hand arch, one couple will face another, join nearer hands with partner (usually man's right, woman's left) to make the arch
Arm right (left) Partners link right (left) arms at the elbow and turn once around clockwise (anticlockwise)
Balance Step to the right then step to the left.
Basket Two couples face and move together. The women put their arms on the shoulders of each man. The men grasp each others hand's in the small of the women's backs. Put your right feet into the centre. Women lean back into the men's arms. Move the basket around to the left, scooting with your left feet. Finish in original places.
Box the Gnat Partners face, join right hands and make an arch. They change places (and so, face the other direction), the woman going under the arch as they cross
Cast (down) Starting facing your partner, turn on the the spot and move down the outside of the set. The turn is in the direction facing partner / facing top of set / facing out of set / facing down the set
Chasse Move sideways
Circle Dancers form a ring alternating man / woman /man etc. Each man has his own partner on his right hand side. All normally facing into the centre of the ring.
Circle left (right) The circle of dancers (usually holding hands) move around clockwise (anticlockwise)
Circular hey See Grand Chain. A circular hey is often done in a 'circle' of just four people, but can be for any number of couples greater than one.
Contrary / Contra In a longways set the person (usually of opposite gender) beside you in your line
Corner In a square set, the person of opposite sex on the other side of you from you partner, i.e. on the man's left, woman's right
Dip and Dive In a longways set, the top couple will 'Dip and Dive' to the bottom of the set by making a single-hand arch, taking the arch over the second couple, under a similar arch made by the 3rd couple, over the 4th couple, etc.
Do si do (Dos a dos) Partners face each other. While continuing always to face in this direction they move just past each other (usually passing right shoulder to right shoulder), move to the right sideways past each other (back to back) and fall back into original place.
Do si do once and a half A full do si do then pass partner (usually right shoulder to right shoulder)
Figure of Eight A man does a figure of eight with a couple he's facing by passing between them, walking all round the lady, pass between them again and walk all round the man, returning to his original place. The other couple have stood still. A lady will do the figure eight by passing between the couple, walk all round the man, etc. A couple can do a figure eight through another couple by doing these actions simultaneously (the lady will pass through the facing couple before the man does).
First couples (square set) The couple with their backs to the 'top' of the room. Other couples are numbered (2,3,4) anticlockwise from the 1s.
Grand Chain With the dancers in a circle and partners side by side (man on the left), partners face (so men face anticlockwise, ladies clockwise). Start by joining right hands with partners and pass by to face the next round the circle. Take left hands with this person and pass by. Continue taking alternate right and left hands. At no point does any dancer turn around, so men are always moving anticlockwise, ladies clockwise.
Head couples See Square set. The two couples facing 'up and down' the room. (You have to choose what's up-and-down, side-to-side). See also Side couples
Hey See Reel
Honour Face another dancer and bow or courtsey
Improper 'Improper' couples in a longways set are on the 'wrong' side of the set - they have changed places with each other before the dance starts
Ladies chain (half, full) Two couples face (the man has his partner on his right hand side). The two women join right hands and walk forward to the opposite man. With him join left hands (women release right hands). The man puts his right arm around the woman's waist and makes a whole turn anticlockwise with her side-by-side on the spot to face back to the other two dancers. A 'full' ladies chain repeats this back to original places.
Longways set A line of men (usually arranged up/down the room) facing one wall, their partners in front, facing them.
Petronella In a ring of (usually) 4 people, turn single as you move one place to the right
Progress (as a couple) Leave the other couple you've been dancing with and move on as directed to a new couple
Progress (individually) Leave your current partner and move on as directed to a new partner.
Promenade Partners stand side by side (man on the left). Join right hands. Also join left hands. Walk forward to new position as specified in instruction.
Reel of four Read  'Reel of Three' first. A line of four dancers (1,2,3,4) do a reel back to these places. Start with 1 and 2 passing by right shoulder and simultaneously 3 and 4 the same, then 1,4 pass by left shoulder, etc.
Reel of three A line of three dancers (called here 1, 2, 3). 2 faces 3 and passes by right shoulder. 3 faces 1 and passes by left shoulder. 1 faces 2 and passes by right shoulder. 2 faces 3 and passes by left shoulder. ... continue similarly until all back to original place.
Right and Left through One couple faces another. Take right hands with the one you face and change places. Now face your partner and do a left-hand turn about half way round, finishing in the other couple's original places, then turn on the spot to face the other couple again. Note:- some callers will describe this as a 'half right and left through'.
Rory O'More Standing right shoulder to right shoulder with your partner, move sideways to the right in front of them, turning single as you go, to end standing left shoulder to left shoulder
Set (as an action) See balance
Set (as a noun) A group of people dancing together. There may be several sets in the room, but dancers in one set don't interact with those in another during this current dance
Sicillian Circle A dance formation in which one couple faces another. Lots of these circles of four in a big circle around the room. The dance starts with one couple facing clockwise round the room, the other anticlockwise. During each turn of the dance each couple will move forward in the direction they face at the start.
Side (as an action) Face another dancer. Move past them into their place, passing by left shoulder and facing them all the time - so you turn as you cross. Repeat back to place passing right shoulder.
Side couples See Square set. The two couples facing the sides of the room. See also Head couples.
Square set A ring of 4 couples. Each man has his partner on his immediate right. Rotate the ring around until each couple has their backs to one of the room's 4 walls.
Star right (left) Four dancers (or more, less) join right (left) hands and walk once around clockwise (anticlockwise)
Strip the Willow Danced in a longways set. The top couple arm right once and a half to face the line of opposite-sex dancers. With the first of these they arm left. The same top couple meet in the middle of the set and arm right once with each other, moving down the set to face the next dancer of opposite sex. They arm left with them once around. They arm right with each other again, moving down to the next opposite-sex dancer. Repeat to the bottom of the set, finishing on their own side. Dancers other than the top couple do just the one arm left with the top man or woman, then return to their position in the line.
Swat the Flea As 'Box the Gnat' using left hands
Swing and change Read 'Swing' first. Two couples swing their partners whilst simultaneously moving round each other (anticlockwise). In a swing and change 'once and a half' the couples move one-and-a-half times around each other, finishing in each other's places
Swing (on the spot) Partners take ballroom hold, put right feet together in the centre and pivot clockwise round each other on the spot.
Swing (to bottom of set) Swing (as above) whilst also moving down centre of set to bottom place (other dancers moving up one place)
Top couple of a set The couple nearest the top (head) end of the room. You decide which is the top of the room.
Turn by left, turn by right See allemande left, allemande right
Turn single (to right) Walk four steps in a very small clockwise circle, making one complete turn. A 'wide' turn single will take more steps and the circle will be larger.

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