The Drunken Idiot

The Drunken Idiot may well be the Hounds' signature dance. It is a dance for 4, alternating between a square set and a line, with a spinning movement that was the genesis of the Hounds' “car wash effect”. This is an easy dance to learn, but it takes some practice to insure that everyone will be in the right place at the right time.

Source: Written in 1996 by Karin Howe and Mike Miller (both of the Bassett Street Hounds).

Tune: The Idiot (Stan Rogers), as (ABCD)3 (A=first figure, B=second figure, CD=chorus/sticking).

T:The Drunken Idiot
T:Tune: The Idiot
H:Dance composed by the Hounds in the style of Red Stags
C:Stan Rogers, music
C:Jon Berger, lyrics
d/2e/2 | fa ag/2f/2 ((3ede) fA | Bddc B3 A | Bd dc/2B/2 Ad d>e |\
|1 ((3fga) gf e3 :|2 ((3fga) fe d3 |] 
d | bb ba/2g/2 aa a>g| ((3fed) de f3 d | bb ba/2g/2 aa a>g | ((3fed) gf e3 d/2e/2 |
fa ag/2f/2 ((3ede) fA | Bddc B3 A | Bd dc/2B/2 Ad d>e | ((3fga) fe d3 |] 

Formation: A set of 4 (alternating between a square and a line), each with one short stick.

Sequence: Once to Yourself, Rounds, Chorus, Linear Hey, Square Hey, Chorus, Linear Bombast, Square Bombast, Chorus.

Chorus: Start in a square set, and remember where you are! Step throughout. Each dancer moves to the centerline of the set as if about to pass left shoulders with their partner, while spinning 270 degrees over their right shoulder. (You'll end up on the centerline of the set, facing your partner.) Stick in pairs in this line, backhand high and forehand low. Now move to the next spot counterclockwise in the square from where you started, spinning again over your right shoulder. (Those on the ends of the line go forward and to their right, spinning 270 degrees; those in the middle of the line go back and to their left, spinning 450 degrees.) Stick across the square set, backhand high and forehand low. Repeat the whole sequence a total of four times, ending back where you started.

Rounds: During the B music, cast out and dance in a clockwise circle, going around twice and ending where you started.

Linear Hey: Spin from a square set into a line (as in the chorus). Do a hey for 4 in that line, starting by passing right shoulders. End where you started in the square set.

Square hey: Pass right shoulders across the set, turn out 270 degrees to face someone up or down the set, pass left shoulders up/down the set, turn out 270 degrees to face someone across the set, and repeat.

Linear bombast: The first time through, spin from a square set into a line (as in the chorus); otherwise, middles dance clockwise around each other 360 degrees (as if their right shoulder blades were attached). Middles then pass the ends by the right as ends pass the middles and then each other (by the right, becoming middles). Repeat the entire sequence a total of four times, ending where you started in the square set. Helpful hint: after the second time through the initial line will be inverted.

Square Bombast: Start from a square set. Each dancer will move one place counterclockwise around the square and then turn out over their right shoulder. First corners (the diagonal pair that includes the person closest to the musician's right hand) will go there directly, but second corners first pass right shoulders in the middle of the set and then go to their progressed place. Repeat this a total of four times to get back to your original place.

Song: John Barleycorn

This dance is often accompanied by singing rather than instruments, using lyrics, “John Barleycorn,” composed by Jon Berger set to the tune, “The Idiot,” written by Stan Rogers.

John Barleycorn to the sea's gone down
On a ship both bold and new
The thirst to slake of Captain Drake
And all his loyal crew
To venture brave through wind and wave
The Spaniard for to halt
And though he die of Spanish grape
He'll live as English malt.

So we'll strike him down and we'll bind him round
And we'll serve him worse than that
We'll grind his bones between two stones
And we'll bung him in a vat
Then we'll drink his health in nut brown ale
And raise our glasses high
For before that he can live again
John Barleycorn must die

John Barleycorn to the courtin's gone
All dressed in fine array
In pewter clad from toe to head
To win a lady gay
The poetry that he declaims
Will stand him in good stead
For the ladies there do all declare
They love it more than bread

John Barleycorn's to the hangman gone
This tale I will unfold
For robbing loyal Englishmen
Of their silver and their gold
In a grave unmarked by cross or stone
John Barleycorn is lain
'Til summer's rains have come and gone
And he rises up again.

List of Teams Known to Dance The Drunken Idiot

It's also been done as a massed dance at several Dog Days Ales (hosted by the Bassett Street Hounds) and the Breathless in Berthoud Ale in 2008.