Square Dance Quick Tutorial

Peel Off

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  This "quick tutorial" introduces the general idea of a call and explains the most common cases. It does not explain or illustrate all cases. For additional details and/or examples, refer to the links in the "MORE INFO" box.

Peel Off involves two dancers, starting "in tandem", one in front of the other. They will normally be part of a four-person formation with two other dancers, such as in a box. Each dancer will be turning away from the center of this formation, and turn a total of 180 degrees to face the other wall, with each pair becoming a couple.

For example, from a box, if the dancers in the tandem pair are holding left hands with the other dancers, they will turn to their right, away from the other dancers. The leader (the dancer standing in front) will make a wider arc, going further away from the center than the trailer (the dancer originally standing behind). But at the same time they adjust forward or back as necessary to line up exactly side by side. That is how they become a couple.

Each tandem does this independently, regardless of the facing direction of the other two dancers in the box. Peel Off is very commonly done from formations where one couple is standing in front of another. Looking at this case in terms of tandem pairs, both tandem pairs are facing the same direction. All four dancers are facing the same direction. Each dancer turns away from the center of the box, away from the existing handhold. That means that the dancers on the left will be turning to their left, and the dancers on the right will be turning to their right. Since they all started facing the same direction, when they turn around halfway they will again all be facing the same direction, and the result will be a one-faced line.

But the same rule applies if half the dancers are facing one direction and the other half are facing the opposite direction. From a right-handed box, all the dancers will be turning to their left, and the result will be a left-handed two-faced line.

From a left-handed box, all the dancers will be turning to their right, and the result will be a right-handed two-faced line. Note that the original leader (the dancer standing in front) always becomes the end of the new line. The original trailer (the dancer standing behind) always becomes the center of the new line.

The four dancers don't have to be standing in an actual box. As long as there are two leaders and two trailers, and there is an obvious center of the four people away from which to turn, they can do the same action. In particular, it is common for Peel Off to be done from the sort of "Z" formation that results from doing an Ends Fold from a wave. This is similar to a box, but with everybody standing back a bit, with only the leaders holding hands. But each tandem can still turn around and become a couple, and they still all adjust to be exactly side to side, forming a two-faced line.

As with other four-person calls, it is very common for all eight dancers in the square to be doing Peel Off at the same time. For example, after a Double Pass Thru, each half of the square can do a Peel Off. Since all the dancers in each box start facing the same direction, they will end as a one-faced line. The other box will be doing the same thing, and the result will be facing lines.

If all the dancers start facing in, where they would be to start a Double Pass Thru, if they all do a Peel Off they will end in lines facing out, back to back.

From normal columns, with the dancers in one column all facing the opposite direction from the dancers in the other column, each box will turn into a two-faced line, and the overall result will be parallel two-faced lines.

Note that regardless of the overall formation, the rule for each tandem pair is the same. The dancers who start standing in tandem turn around and become a couple.