The Paul Jones mixer dance

The Paul Jones is a "mixer," whose object is to change partners frequently in the course of one dance. It is done to one-step music and was popular in the 1910s into the 1920s. I have more than one description of it, but the one I just looked at is _Dancing Made Easy_, by Charles Coll and Gabriele Rosiere, 1919.

A Master of Ceremonies is chosen to direct the mixer. Each dancer starts out with a partner (but you could have more dancers of one gender if some acted the "opposite" role). They get into a circle, with each woman on the right of her partner. Then all the dancers do a "grand right and left" as in square dancing--each person faces their partner, takes right hand in right, passes this person, takes left hand in left with the next person in the circle, passes them, takes right hand in right with the next person in the circle, passes them, and so on. The "grand right and left" continues till the Master of Cermonies gives "a signal." Then everyone dances the one-step with the person whose hand they were holding when the signal is given. They do this till the Master of Ceremonies gives another signal; at which point the dancers get back into the circle and begin the grand right and left again, then dance the one-step at the next signal, and so on, till the Master of Ceremonies decides to end the mixer.

Although this manual does not say so, in practice often someone gets confused about who is holding which hand in the grand right and left and thus ends up without a partner. Therefore it is a good idea to designate the center of the circle as "lost and found," where the two partnerless people can find each other. A good "signal" is a small whistle that can be heard above the music. It works best if the signal is given at unpredictable intervals.

You could probably adapt the idea to another type of dance and/or music if you wanted, but IMO it should be lively, as a certain amount of scarmbling around is part of the fun. Fran Grimble

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Last modified on: 2001, Thursday January 4.