Bows & Beaus
Keith Ferguson's hints on Teacup Chain
Teacup Chain (helpful hints)
Teacup Chain is a Plus move often used in singing calls, although it can also be used at other times.
When properly executed, it takes 32 beats of music.
Here are some hints that you may find helpful as you learn this move.
Note that these hints assume that the caller gives the call as "Head Ladies Center, Teacup Chain,"
the most usual case.
The ladies will be doing a sequence of the following two things:
The men will be staying at their home position and doing arm turns with each of the ladies.
- At some point during the move they will do a forearm turn with every man in the square.
- At other times, they will go into the center to make a star with their opposite lady.
Note that their opposite lady is the only lady they will touch during this move.
Hints for the Ladies
There are three rules the ladies should memorize and follow:
- Start with the Right hand or arm.
If you are starting with a forearm turn, use your right forearm.
If you are starting with a star, make it a right-hand star.
- Once you are started, alternate arms!
Never use the same arm twice.
The sequence is: Right, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left.
- Go to each man in sequence, starting with your corner, and working your way around the square.
Don't skip a man. Knowing which man is next tells you how far to turn the stars.
Hints for the Men
The men will be doing a forearm turn with each lady.
There are two rules the men should follow:
- Let the ladies decide which arm to use.
The ladies will know which arm to use.
The man's job is to have both arms ready and let each lady make the decision.
This is because the sequence of arm turns for the men is strange
(you will sometimes use the same arm twice).
- Men should take responsibility for directing each lady to the next place she should go!
- Head Men: As you finish each arm turn, direct the lady into the center of the square
where she will be forming a star with her opposite lady.
As you do the arm turn, whisper "To the center" and then gently guide her into the center.
- Side Men: As you finish each arm turn, direct the lady to the right where she will go
directly to the head man for another arm turn.
As you do the arm turn, whisper "To your corner" and then gently guide her to the right.
- For the Ladies:
- Whenever you leave a head man, you will go into the center to make a star.
Whenever you leave a side man, you will go
directly to the right to do another arm turn with a head man.
- At the beginning of the move, the side ladies need to be extra careful to use
their right arm for the first arm turn (which will be with their corner).
- Always know which man is next -- this tells you how far to turn the star.
If you are making a right-hand star, you will turn it 3/4 of a circle.
If you are making a left-hand star, you will go all the way around and then 1/4 more.
- For the Men:
- Please, do not push the ladies around with your free hand!
These are forearm turns, and your other hand should not be on the ladies back,
except for the final turn at the end of the move.
The final turn (when the lady you started with gets back to you)
is a Courtesy Turn, similar to the end of a "Ladies Chain."
- Head Men: The ladies will come to you from your corner position.
As they leave you, be sure to send them to the center.
- Side Men: The ladies will come to you from the center star.
Let them come to you -- don't reach in and pull them out of the star (you might get the wrong lady)!
As the lady leaves you, be sure to send her directly to the right to a head man.
For Those That Want to Know More!
Once you've gained experience with a normal "Teacup Chain" you might hear a caller give some variation.
These are usually considered "gimmicks," so don't worry about them for now! Here are some you might hear:
Again, don't worry about any of these variations. They are beyond the scope of most classes,
and are only listed to show some of the ways a common call can be modified as dancers gain more experience.
- SIDE ladies center, Teacup Chain is probably the variation you are most likely to hear.
It's exactly what you would expect -- just have the sides do what the heads normally do, and vice versa!
- All FOUR ladies center, Teacup Chain is sometimes done at workshops.
The caller will probably cue the dancers through the move.
- NO ladies center, Teacup Chain is a very unusual variation, but might be done at a workshop.
Expect the caller to provide helping cues!
- Head MEN center, Teacup Chain is a somewhat common variation, but only after the heads (and perhaps the
sides, also) have done a "half sashay" so the men are on the right side of the ladies.
- Head Men center, Beer Mug Chain: This might be done at a workshop, not at a normal dance!
It starts from a normal squared set, but has the men making the stars and starting with the left hand.
Don't expect to see this, unless it is taught first!
- And, yes, there are other variations!
Views herein are those of the author, Keith Ferguson.