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The Snail Creep



Old Cornwall Society Magazine, Winter 1933

Courtney, Cornish Feasts and Folklore, 1886 page 234 A report in the Old Cornwall Society Magazine describes this dance as having been enjoyed by young people until recent times and gives a contemporary description from 1881 (probably from a Local History of Roche). Courtney (1886) describes the dance as follows: "The young people all being assembled in a large meadow, the village band strikes up a simple but lively air and marches forward followed by the whole assemblage, leading hand in hand (or more closely linked in the case of engaged couples) the whole keeping time to the tune with a lively step. The band or head of the serpent keeps marching in an ever narrowing circle, while its train of dancing followers becomes coiled around it in circle after circle, still followed as before, and a number of young men with long leafy branches in their hands as standards, direct this counter movement with almost military precision." Other informants such as Mr Reg Salmon of Goonhavern also mentioned the Snail Creep when talking about snakes dances and emphasised the sheer number of people that could be involved, as many as two or three hundred excluding the band. DANCE NOTATIONS Formation

Couples hand in hand, two by two in a line Hold

Hands held at lady`s comfortable shoulder height Step

'One two three hop' furry dance step or brisk walk Movements 1) The dance is led by two people traditionally with leafy boughs standards representing the 'horns' of a snail, however in more modern times the boughs are not generally used. The band might also lead the dancers. 2) The dancers process in a spiral and turn about at the centre and back on themselves in a counter movement, the dancers appearing to move in opposite directions. TUNE/SONG Any lively march would be suitable for this dance. click here to play the midi file click here for the noteworthy file