• Era: 1840s-1890s
While researching nineteenth-century Scottish reels, I was surprised to come across a dance labeled “Highland Reel” that was not the usual sort of Highland Reel, a simple mix of setting and heying for three or four dancers, but rather two slightly different versions of a progressive longways dance for trios of one lady between two gentlemen, formed as in the illustration at left (click to enlarge), taken from Elias Howe’s American Dancing Master and Ball-Room Prompter (Boston, 1862).
Ironically, I have only one, very late, Scottish source for the dance; most of the sources I’ve found it in are actually American! One version made its way all the way to Australia and is found in an 1875 manual from that country. That version, with the dancers’ genders reversed to one gentleman between two ladies, is still extant in the modern Scottish Country Dance community, where it may be found in the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society's Book 13.