Grandmother’s polka

Also known as Grandmother’s Dance, La Bell Catherine, La Belle Catherine, Sheepshearing.

Grandmother's has been added to 13 tunebooks.

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One setting

1
X: 1
T: Grandmother's
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|G/F/G/A/ B/A/G/A/|BG GF|EA EF|GD/E/ DF|
G/F/G/A/ B/A/G/A/|BG GF|EA EF|G3:|
|:c|Bd d>c|B/c/d/e/ d>c|Bd BG|AF D>A|
Bd d>c|B/c/d/e/ d>A|G>A BA|G3:|

Five comments

Grandmother’s Polka

In my neck of the woods, this tune (paired with another tune called Grandfather’s Polka, which I’ll post later) is commonly played for an amusing dance called "Wring Out the Dishrag".

The alternative name for this tune: "La Belle Catherine" has no connection whatsever with a tune of that name already posted to session.org.

Wring Out The Dishrag

Here are the instructions for the dance: "Wring out the Dishrag" referrred to above:

A dance for two-couple sets - for as many sets as will.
To begin the dance, the two couples in each set join hands in a circle.

Bars 1-4: Two-couple set circles left
Bars 5-8: Two-couple set circles right
Bars 9-12: First couple makes an arch. Second couple go part-way under the arch, then back again.
Bars 13:16: Second couple makes an arch.: First couple go part-way under the arch, then back again.
Bars: 17-20: “Wring Out the Dishrag”. First couple makes an arch. Second couple go through the arch, then turn OUTWARDS, and (without letting go hands) pass their arms over the heads of the first couple, thus reforming the circle.
Bars:21-24: “Wring Out the Dishrag”. Second couple makes an arch. First couple go through the arch, then turn OUTWARDS, and (without letting go hands) pass their arms over the heads of the second couple, thus reforming the circle again.
Bars:25-32: The two-couple sets break their circles, and all couples polka around the room to find new partners and the dance begins again.

The “wring out the dishrag” manoeuvre is often the cause of much amusement. The folk in some sets get it straightaway, whereas other sets manage to tie themselves in knots or end up breaking their circles.

For this reason, members of the ceilidh band in which I play are often called upon to assist with a “walk-through” demonstration of the dance before it begins.

"Wring Out the Dishrag" dance - Polkas

Any polkas can be used for "Wring Out the Dishrag", but the (moderate) speed and phrasing of the "Grandparents" polkas seem to fit it the best.

"Wring Out The Dishrag" / "Diver for the Oysters" - - - dance

Classic old-time square dance moves, and sometimes, as here, used in other dance formations. We called dances like this, collectively ~ "Scatter Promenades", of which there are several. In some cases you keep your partner throughout, as here, and in others there’s an exchange of partners in the figure. We’ve always enjoyed them and they were good ice breakers, getting people out and scattering all over the dance floor to meet others.

I’ll have to look, but while we knew this tune we had a different way with it and I believe we also had a second ending in the B-part… We also used tunes like this for any number of couple and group polka dances.

AAAAaa! Where’d that ‘r’ come from. It’s "Dive for the Oyster/Oysters"…