Market Lass

Market Lass first appeared in The New Collection of Country Dances by John Burbank, published in Brookfield, MA in 1799. We have been enjoying this dance for many months now, and want to share it.

We first found dance instructions for the colonial dance “Market Lass” in a book written by Ralph Page (the “dean of contra dance callers”), Heritage Dances of Early America, published in 1976, which includes directions from Burbank’s book. We were able to actually get a copy of Burbank’s publication in January, 2017 from the online database at the American Antiquarian Society and are thrilled to have it – thank you to the staff at the AAS for all of their help! The librarians at Brandeis University kindly helped us in our research in 2016, and we were able to make a copy of the directions from A Collection of the Newest Cotillions and Country Dances published in Worcester, MA in 1800, which includes directions for this dance which are virtually identical to Burbank’s.

Here’s how the Waysiders dance Market Lass:

Market Lass (Triple Minor Longways)
  • A1   Active couples cast down the outside, below two couples, cross over to the opposite side of the set, and cast up one place (leaving the first couple facing each other and improper, in the second couple’s place)
  • A2   All six double balance (forward, back, right, left)
  •         Active lady and gent each circle three-quarters of the way around the center of the set, to end with the 1st gent between the second couple (above) and the 1st lady between the third couple (below), facing up and down in lines of 3
  • B1   All six double balance facing up and down
  •         Active couples right hand turn 3/4 to proper places
  • B2   Top two couples rights and lefts
We use skip-change steps as a travelling step in this dance.


Instructions from Worcester, 1800

Down outside, and cross below third couple/and cast up one, six balance, the gentleman sasha [sic]/to the left and place himself between the sec-/ond couple, the lady sasha [sic] to the left and place/herself between the third couple, six balance, give/your partner your right hand and swing round so/as you stand in a right position to right and left/at top, right and left.

Instructions from Burbank, 1799

Down outside, and cross below 3d cou-/ple, and cast up one, six ballance, the gen-/tleman sasha to the left, and place himself/ between the 2d couple, the lady sasha to/the left and place herself between the 3d/couple, six balance, give your partner your/right hand and swing round so as you stand/in a right position to right and left at top,/right and left.


Here is the sheet music:

Here is the tune for you to listen to:

Market Lass


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