A newer caller has been doing his homework. Being an analytical sort of fellow, he began studying the permutations of facing couples and asked for a little help. That prompted the following discussion. It shows one way, dancers can be maneuvered through all the positions within a foursome.










All in all, there are 24 permutations for position within the facing couple assuming rotation around the flag pole center of the foursome is discounted. In the table below, each couple is indicated in a counter-clockwise fashion. Boys are assigned Numbers and Girls are assigned the letters.


So, 1A2B translates to:

This first series of calls runs through all of the Standard and Half Sashayed arrangements – those listed in the green table cells. We’re concerned only with a single foursome, so facing couples will remain facing couples throughout.

Now, from here, a combination of calls was employed to get the men paired together so we can run through the lavender cell states. Obviously there are many ways to maneuver for the desired result, but the series of calls used here should feel familiar enough for average dancers. The initial Pass the Ocean is Half Sashayed, which is likely trouble for dancers. If you have prepared them, however, success can be realized. This should really be considered just a “caller exercise.” I doubt one would wish to run through all the couple permutations on an actual dance floor.


Note that we’re using pairs of calls, which comply with Mainstream’s limitations. If you’re calling DBD, you cloud use Right & Left Thru in some places rather than the call couplets presented.


Lastly, we examine the permutations for arrangements where men are on either the right or left side of the couple as viewed by the caller.

Examine the above to see that every listed permutation is accounted for. To get into the same sex pairings, we directed a TRADE to the head couple. When you are calling to a single pair of couples, you can use the terms NEAR and FAR, or use a couple number for one couple. Beforehand, make sure to acquaint the dancers with their number, or what NEAR & FAR means. NEAR are the dancers closest to the caller, and FAR are the dancers farthest away.


If you are working with a normal line of four and use the terms NEAR and FAR rather than HEADS or SIDES, non-symmetrical formations will be produced. That’s a whole new can of worms.


For giggles, you should try this exercise yourself, reproducing all of the permutations with your own series of calls. Obviously, the order in which they occur is unimportant.


Good Luck!


Michael Haworth