jere7my (jere7my) wrote,

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Why the fours should cast to the bottom

If that subject line sounds like gibberish, skip this post. Watch Weird Al's new White Stripes style parody instead. For the rest of you — i.e., Scottish dancers — read on.

When you've got a five-couple set but can't convince the musicians or the other dancers to dance the dance ten times through, the fourth couple will generally cede one of their turns in top position to the fifth couple. Traditionally, the fourth couple remains in second place after their turn as ones, dancing in second position while the fives dance in top position. I am here to prove to you that this is terrible and wrong and degrades the very fabric of the American flag, if not our immortal souls. After the fours have danced as top couple, they should cast to the bottom. Here's why.

The following notation describes the eight passes through the dance. Active couples are [in brackets]. A running total of each couple's turns in each position is noted in superscript — e.g., 3(223) indicates that 3rd couple has, at that point in the dance, danced twice as twos and once as threes. For the first seven times through the dance, each couple casts to the bottom after dancing twice as top couple, as usual, and everyone else shuffles upward:

1st: [ 1(1) 2(2) 3(3) ] 4 5

2nd: 2(2) [ 1(11) 3(23) 4(3) ] 5

3rd: [ 2(12) 3(223) 4(33) ] 5 1(11)

4th: 3(223) [ 2(112) 4(233) 5(3) ] 1(11)

5th: [ 3(1223) 4(2233) 5(33) ] 1(11) 2(112)

6th: 4(2233) [ 3(11223) 5(233) 1(113) ] 2(112)

7th: [ 4(12233) 5(2233) 1(1133) ] 2(112) 3(11223)

Traditionally, at this point, the fours would progress to second place, then stay there while the fives are top couple:

8th: [ 5(12233) 4(122233) 1(11333) ] 2(112) 3(11223)

I am told that the fours get to dance again because they are popularly believed to be shafted by having to share their turn at the top with the fives. As you can see, though, it is not the fours who get the shaft, as they are active six times, while the poor twos dance only thrice — remaining immobile for the entire second half of the dance! Furthermore, the twos never get to dance in third position, and the ones never get to dance in second position. I trust you are now as aghast as I am. Consider, instead, if the fours cast to the bottom:

8th: [ 5(12233) 1(11233) 2(1123) ] 3(11223) 4(12233)

Now, everyone is active either four or five times, and everyone gets to dance at least once from every position. The twos are slightly shafted, but nobody sits out more than thrice in a row. Equality! Fraternity! Liberty! The mice are dancing with the foxes, and everybody gets a warm brownie!

Apparently this analysis, or one like it, appeared in the Tartan Times. I haven't seen it, but I am in full agreement with its author that fours-to-the-bottom is a better way to preserve national security, reduce carbon emissions, and handle an awkward dance situation.

Word up, homes.
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