How to make a maypole dance

Maypole Dance Steps

You've got your Maypole and now you need some music and some ideas about the dance.



The Maypole Dance

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The Performance

The Maypole Dance is often done as part of a performance so an element of display might be appropriate. For example, the dancers might form into a circle around the maypole and then, when the music starts, move forwards to collect their ribbon. The step to use for music based on jigs or reels is a lilting walk or skip. For hornpipe rhythms use a step-hop-step-hop alternating from one foot to the other. For waltz-time music, take 3 even paces for each waltz bar of music.


The Introductory Dance

In its most simple form, the dancers simply stand in a circle around the maypole and, in time with the music, take 4 steps towards the maypole, 4 steps back and the circle for a count of 8. As they approach the maypole they can raise their arms, and then lower them as they back away.


The First Plaiting Dance

The next level of complexity is for the dancers to attach ribbons to the top of the maypole. Most maypoles have a static (non-rotating) crown so the ribbons plait onto the maypole as the dancers circle around. This is called a closed plait. Dances where the ribbons plait away from the maypole, such as The Gypsies' Tent, are called open plaits.

To get used to using the ribbons, make sure that all the dancers are facing in the same direction and holding their ribbon in their right hands. The left hand simply gathers up the excess ribbon. Now start the music and all dance around the maypole in the same direction without overtaking. Eventually there is no length of ribbon left as it has become wrapped around the maypole, at which time the order is given to reverse your steps and unwind the maypole. If you unwind without any knots you have successfully completed your first plaiting dance.


The Grand Chain

The next dance requires you to divide into 2 groups of equal numbers. Members of Team A should partner Members of Team B. Make sure that As and Bs are spaced alternately around the maypole with each Team A dancer facing one from Team B and then start the music. Each of Team A should pass right shoulder with their first Team B dancer and then left with the next (do not turn back on yourself), carrying on alternately until the ribbons are again exhausted. As dancers pass each other, they should raise and lower their right arm rhythmically to guide the ribbon over the other dancer. To unwind, remember to retrace your steps accurately, passing your last dancer first and then alternate shoulders until the ribbons unwind. Make sure that everyone dances at a constant pace and that no one overtakes. You have now completed your second ribbon dance. You can vary the dance by having pairs (or more) of dancers, joined arm-in-arm, weave in each direction together.

In each case, look at the beautiful pattern that you have made on the maypole during the dance.


The Gypsies' Tent

In this dance you will make a web or tent that builds from the top of the maypole outwards away from the pole (an open plait). Each Team A dancer stands beside their Team B partner. When the music starts, Team B stands still and their Team A partner dances around them and then weaves to the right around the next Team B dancer, then back again round their own partner, then on to the Team B dancer to the left, and finally back to their own partner. To unwind, simply reverse the moves. See picture.

There are many variants of this dance, with each team taking a turn to move or with one team passing two of the other team before dancing around them. You can easily experiment but remember that the goal is to be able to unwind cleanly after you have used up all of the ribbons during the wind up.

How to Make a Maypole - Darling Darleen

How To Make a Maypole

May Day is just around the corner (May 1st), and is a traditional Spring holiday in many European countries in celebration of Spring through dance. Learn how to make a Maypole for your May Day festivities. Usually we go around on May Day and hang a bouquet of flowers on neighbors’ door knobs.  And this year, I thought it would be fun to dance around a maypole!  The maypole dance is not just for May Day.  It can be celebrated all throughout spring and into summer. How fun would it be to have a maypole at a Mother’s Day tea party or a summer picnic or a little girl’s garden birthday party? Children (or mamas) can dance around the pole, braiding the ribbon by going under each other, over each other or cross each other’s path. I will show you an easy way on how to make a maypole that will last for many summer parties to come.

Supplies for How to Make a Maypole

Two wooden dowels-1 1/4″ x 72 ” 


Afloral assorted silk flowers–the flowers I used were mini silk ranunculus bush, magnolia silk bush in blush, waxflower spray in white and mauve pin and 25″ ranunculus spray pink

1 x dowel screw

Round wooden rosette with blunt screw

12 rolls of assortment of silk ribbon 1″

staple gun

wood glue

hot glue

hand saw

Instructions for How to Make a Maypole

1. Take your wooden dowels and drill a hole, slightly less than the diameter of your dowel screw, through the center of the top of the dowel on one side of each wooden dowel.

2. Squeeze wooden glue in one of the drilled holes. Then take the dowel screw and screw it in the dowel all the way. Let it dry for a few hours so the screw will be firm in the dowel, preferably 24 hours. When you assemble to poles, you will screw the dowel with the screw into the other drilled hole on the other dowel. Once assembled, the pole will be about 12 feet tall. This will make it easy to transport the maypole and take your maypole dancing to the park, friend’s backyard or any open grassy area.

3. Take the other wooden dowel that does not have the dowel screw in it. The opposite end of the drilled hole, use your saw to shave down the edges to make it have a point or a V-shape so it will be easy to hammer the pole into the ground.

3. Now take the other wooden dowel that does have the dowel screw in it and drill another hole on the opposite side. Put wood glue in it and screw in the round wooden rosette with the blunt screw in the dowel. Let it dry.

4. If you’d like, you can spray paint your maypole. Or keep it natural.

5. Take your ribbon and staple gun and staple one end of each ribbon at the top of the round wooden rosette. Unravel the ribbons and then gently wrap the ribbon around the pole.

6. Grab your silk flowers and pull the flower buds off the stems. Hot glue the larger flower heads on the top of the round wooden rosette and then the smaller flowers.

7. With any of your leftover silk flowers, make flower crowns for your dancers.

You are just about ready to dance around the maypole! Before you head out, grab a hammer. You will need it to hammer the bottom pole in the ground. Hammer it in a few inches in the ground to make sure it’s secure. Then screw the top dowel into the bottoms dowel. Unravel the ribbons. Each dancer holds onto a ribbon and then dances around the maypole!


Thank you Afloral. com for sponsoring this post!

Styled Photography: Melissa Udall Photography

Thank you to these cute mamas and their babies for helping out on How to Make a Maypole post–Melissa Erickson, Candice Munk, Lizzy Nielsen

How to Do a Maypole Dance

The Maypole is one of the traditional symbols of Beltane, and let's not be fooled by its purpose: it's a giant phallus. Because the Beltane celebration usually began the night before with a large bonfire, the Maypole festival usually took place shortly after sunrise the following morning. It was when couples (and probably a few surprised triads) staggered out of the fields, dressed in disorder and with straw in their hair, after a night full of them. bonfire-inspired lust. nine0003

Did you know?

  • If you plan ahead, you can have a fun and exciting Maypole dance by digging a hole ahead of time and inserting a 15 to 20 foot wooden pole.
  • Invite each participant to bring their ribbons and attach them to the top of the pole.
  • By the time the dance is over, the pole will be sheathed with ribbons, and your guests will have a great time!

The pole was set up in the countryside, or in an ordinary, or even in a convenient field - stuck into the ground permanently or on a temporary basis - and bright ribbons were attached to it. Young people came and danced around the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon. As they weaved in and out, the men went one way and the women the other, creating a kind of sleeve - enveloping the belly of the earth - around the pole. By the time they were finished, the Maypole was almost invisible under the sheath of tapes. nine0003

Set up a Maypole

cbarnesphotography / Getty Images

To create your own Maypole dance, you will need the following:

  • Dig a hole a few feet deep in advance. You don't want your friends to wait while you hunt for a shovel. The hole must be at least three feet deep so that the pole does not tip over during the ceremony.
  • Pole 15 to 20 feet long, preferably wood.
  • Guests who like to have fun

Ask each participant to bring their own ribbon; it should be about 20 feet long and two to three inches wide. Once everyone is assembled, attach the ribbons to one end of the pole (if you put a metal eye screw into the post beforehand, this will make things much easier because you can simply tie each ribbon to the eyelet). Have spare tapes on hand, because someone will probably forget them.

After the straps are attached, raise the bar to a vertical position and insert it into the hole. Be sure to joke here more obscene jokes. Lay dirt around the base of the pole to keep it from moving or falling off during the dance. nine0003

Have your own dance

Andrew Lockey / Getty Images

If you don't have an equal number of male and female guests, don't worry. Just let everyone count by two. People with the number "1" will go clockwise, people with the number "2" will go counterclockwise. Hold the ribbons in the hand closest to the pole, in your inner hand. Moving in a circle, pass people first to the left, then to the right, then to the left again. If you pass them on the outside, hold the tape up so that they pass under it. You can practice ahead of time. Continue until everyone runs out of ribbon, then tie all the ribbons at the bottom in a knot. nine0003

If all this doesn't make sense to you, don't worry! The guys at have some great tips available, including instructions for the introductory dance steps and the first round of braiding. They point out,

“There are many variations of this dance: each team takes turns moving, or one team walks around the other two before dancing around them. You can experiment easily, but remember that the goal is to be able to cleanly relax after you've used up all the tapes while winding. " nine0050

One thing that is always welcome at Maypole Dance is the music. Several CDs are available, but there are bands that have the May theme in their music. Look for the phrase "Morris music" or traditional flute and drum tunes. Of course, it's best to have live music, so if you have friends who are willing to share their skills and sit down to the dance, ask them to arrange some musical entertainment for you.

Additional signs Maypole

sarradet / Getty Images

  • If you are making a children's Maypole, it will probably be easier to get them all going in the same direction with their bands. When it's done, it doesn't look as pretty, but it's still pretty.
  • You may want the flower crown attached as well - place it on top when all the ribbons are in place but before you raise the pole.

"Maypole" - Details, details and other trifles - LJ

06:01 pm -

"Maypole"0002 On Thu, 05/26/2005, Tyrond called me (I planned to fit in with Alina) and said that just on 05/28/2005 there will be a festival of role players and reenactors "Maytree" in Vyborg, and he and Alina have long dreamed of getting there. Like, there are two options: either they give me the keys to the apartment, or I go with them to the festival. I had to urgently negotiate with the Hermit, because. We planned to talk to her as soon as I arrived. She agreed to go with me to the Maypole, Tyrond and Alina did not mind. nine0003

The first joke: on the train, one of the fellow travelers turned out to be the head of the transport department :-))) (remember the humorous story about the meeting at the distillery? "... It's a pity that we never heard the head of the transport department..." :-D ).

I love Petersburg. And, it seems, mutually - otherwise how to explain that every time I visit the city pampers me with the sun? So it happened this time *smiling enough*. It was raining at the entrances to St. Petersburg, but in the city itself - the sun.
Plus I got just on the Day of the City :-). nine0004 And in general, this trip became a set of "first times" for me :-). Yes, and in terms of the total number of impressions, these 2 days are drawn for a week (if not more) of a normal life.

The recluse met me at the station. Alas, she was not in the mood to go to Vyborg (now she is having a hard time), so we sat for a while in the Teaspoon and chatted.
Tayrond and Alina are now renting an apartment on the Primorskaya metro station, sharing with the former teacher Tayrond Lyova. Alina met me at the subway exit and brought me to the house. Nice apartment, I like it. Cozy. Lyova was not there, because he left for Vyborg on Fri to set up a camp (the guys and I were supposed to join him). Of course, Alinka fussed - she collected a backpack, ironed suits and raincoats. But still, she found time to exclaim: "Let's put you in a suit too!", get a couple of dresses out of the closet and make me try them on :-). nine0004 By the majority of votes (their votes, I was against it) they decided that I would go in a green dress with a train (boat neck, cord on the hips, in the manner of the Middle Ages). I objected because not to wear this with my figure: it is clear that the waist is far from thin, and there is not enough in the hips; and the green dress does not go well with my blue-and-blue sports slippers. But the guys said that everything is fine and no one will pay attention. On that and decided :-).
In the subway, people are restrained, but squint. Alina told a sad story: they say, one day she walks in a suit on the subway, and some child says: “Mom, look, princess!”, And mom looks at Alina like that and answers: “This is not a princess, this is some kind of fool then" :-(. This is how love for a fairy tale is killed in people from childhood!
Stas and Ilma joined us at the train station Udelnaya.
While we were driving (in the vestibule, because there were a lot of people in the car), Alina began to make up - she did not have time at home. Eyelashes tinted, shadows are blue. Then she asked if I or Ilma had lipstick - but there was no lipstick. They started joking about it, talking about black lipstick... Then a group of guys in black leather, standing at the other door of the vestibule, answered: "What? Who needs black lipstick? We have black lipstick!" - and, therefore, stretch the tube :-). I had to paint :-). True, such lipstick does not go well with blue shadows - Alina erased it later. nine0004 I'm in Vyborg for the FIRST TIME. While we were walking from the platform to the castle, I managed to torment the people with Bashakov's song "I'm being mischievous" and Arbenin's "New Year's lullaby for children and animals". Ilma bought me with giblets, saying that I have a pleasant timbre of voice and sing well :-))). Like, they have something like that in their studies - constructive criticism of each other's singing, so she knows what she's talking about :-). Priya-a-atno, fir-trees! ;-).
We went past the castle, past the flushes to the park "Mon Repos" to look for Levin's camp. How beautiful it is!!! We walked along the coast - there is such a picturesque coast! Rocky, I even had to climb a couple of times (which is not easy to do in a long dress! It’s good that the train was attached to the belt). nine0004 We went back to the castle at about 9 o'clock in the evening, when people changed into costumes (they even managed to teach me some medieval dances! 8-D). We were already going the other way - evenly.
The entrance to the castle cost 200 rubles, so the idea arose to land on the Castle Island from a boat (there is a boat and water bike rental station nearby, about 10 minutes walk; and on the back of the island there is an entrance to the castle, where there are usually no controllers ). From the very beginning I was going to honestly buy a ticket, but for the company of the guys I went to the boat station. We went to her several times: Alina ran ahead, but, not reaching her destination (however, like me, it seemed to her that the station was much closer than it actually turned out) returned. But we didn't see it, so we moved on. When we got to the boat station, it turned out that Alina did not come there :-\... We agreed with the watchman (the time for issuing boats for rent was over, so we agreed on a double tariff), and 4 more people joined the adventure. Then we went to the castle - to look for Alina (she, having reached the castle and not meeting us, moved back to the station. This time, thank God, they did not miss each other), and, having found it, - back to the boats. nine0004 While the people were sailing in the boat, I walked to the castle, bought a ticket and entered. We had to go to the opposite part of the island from the entrance to meet our people. They got there normally - there really were no controllers from this side. They weren't even noticed.
This festival is a colorful sight!!! In general, the FIRST TIME I got to the party of role-players and reenactors. In addition to ordinary people, it is full of medieval ladies and gentlemen, monks, Slavic girls and guys. There were simple costumes, and those that you admire - embroidered patterns, beautiful fabrics. And it seems that there were no aggressive people, although there were drunk ones. nine0004 Dancing is something!!! :-) It’s a pity that for those dances that I was taught in the camp (by the way, by the time I got to the castle, all the details were mixed up in my head, so I wouldn’t be able to repeat at least one of them anyway), there was simply no place - so many people were dancing.

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