Cast Off – Definition

Teaching Resource for CAST OFF

Links:   Standard Analyze Module Teach Other Extend

CALLERLAB Program: Mainstream
Teaching order: After Centers In
Recently taught calls: Allemande Thar group, Hinge

Background: Cast Off is number 72 in Burleson’s Encyclopedia. The first part describes Cast Off from lines of four or couples. It then says, “In an ocean wave callers should call “cast” a designated fraction and this is an arm turn with your adjacent dancers of the fraction called (dancers close ranks).”

In 1976, Jay King wrote: “Cast Off has been a regular part of Contra Dancing and was being used long before modern square dancing reacquired the move. Before the name ꞌCast Offꞌ was used, Jim York of Mill Valley, California in 1956 would have the dancers perform the same move by using the more or less directional call, ꞌEnds will Hingeꞌ. Another way of calling it in some areas was to say ꞌCenters Turn Outꞌ. There is still controversy about what to call a 3/4 arm turn by dancers in a wave (or two adjacent dancers with arms joined and facing in opposite directions).”

Cast Off is listed in the 1972 Extend Basics Program of American Square Dancing. In the 1976 CALLERLAB Mainstream Program it was number 56 and listed as: Cast Family (3/4, 1/2, 1/4) a. Off, b. In, c. Right, d. Left. According to a 1981 version of the Pocket Dictionary by Al Brundage and Earl Johnston, the four options indicated which dancer should act as the pivot (end, center, right, or left). By 1980 it was listed as Cast Off 3/4 and the definition was essentially the one we use today.


Starting formation: Mini-Wave, General Line

Command examples:
— Cast Off 3/4
— Pass The Ocean; Cast Off 3/4
— Couples Circulate; Tag The Line; Put Centers In; Cast Off 3/4 — Boys Push
— Center 4, Wheel And Deal; Outsides Cast Off 3/4 (from a Tidal Line)
— Veer Left; Centers Trade; Cast Off 3/4

Dance action:

From a Mini-Wave, Turn 3/4.

From a General Line, each half of the line works together: those in a Mini-Wave Turn 3/4 while those in a Couple turn, as a unit, away from the center of the line for 3/4 of a circle (270 degrees).

Ending formations: From a Mini-Wave, a Mini-Wave. From a One-Faced Line or a Two-Faced Line, Facing Couples. From a General Line, a General Box (centered on the same point).

Timing: 6

Styling: Dancers who are partners maintain current handholds throughout the call.

From Completed Double Pass Thru, the combination Centers In, Cast Off 3/4 has often been danced with linked elbows. This styling is discouraged because Centers In is not always followed by Cast Off 3/4.

A couple on the outside of the set (e.g., after Couples Circulate 1 1/2) can be asked to Cast Off 3/4. In this case, they assume the other half of their line is towards the center of the set and do the call.

It is improper to Sweep a Quarter after Cast Off 3/4.

In the dance action from a Couple, there has been controversy about the location of the “pivot point”, the center of the turning. Traditionally the end dancer was the pivot, around which the center dancer walked 3/4 of a circle, much like “pushing” open a garden gate. This was problematic in certain cases (e.g., from a Two-Faced Line), because it didn’t explain why the call ended with couples facing directly. The current definition de-emphasizes the pivot point; as long as dancers turn in the correct direction and end in the correct formation, they are dancing the call properly.

From a Tidal Line or Tidal Two-Faced Line, the proper dance action of Cast Off 3/4 is to work on each side, ending in an Eight Chain Thru formation. From a Tidal Line only, if the caller wants each side to work as a unit, ending in Facing Lines, “Line of 8, Cast Off 3/4” may be used, similar to “Line of 8, Bend The Line” (#20.b); this variation (or the one from a line of 6) is seldom used.

For variations of Cast Off with fractions other than 3/4, see “Additional Detail: Commands: Extensions like Reverse Wheel Around”.

Facing Couple or Ocean Wave Rule: The facing couple rule does not apply.

Link to Taminations: