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Sally Lightfoot

Sally Lightfoot Crab (Grapsus grapsus)

Crab Appreciation Day

Feb 17

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"🎶 Well, Herman told his Sally and it broke her heart
She loved that lobster right from the start
He took her in his claws and said "I'll always be yours,
But still, dear, we'll have to part.
Crabs walk sideways and lobsters walk straight,
And you can't take a crab for your mate."

~ "Crabs Walk Sideways," The Smothers Brothers, 1964

There are more ways to appreciate the crab on their special day than with clarified butter! How about this light-footed jig by John Drewry with lots of fancy foot and feetwork! Although most crabs typically walk sideways or "crabwise", some crabs can maneuver forwards or even backwards, helpful in this dance which employs reels on the side and back to backs ! Sally Lightfoot crabs are red, yellow, and blue, brightly-coloured coastal scavengers, found in the Galapagos Islands and across the western coast of South and Central America. Rumoured to have been named after an exotic Caribbean dancer, their extreme agility makes them very difficult to catch! Go Sally, go! 🦀 🦀 🦀

Sally Lightfoot

It's Crab Appreciation Day! 


Sally Lightfoot is the name of two species of crabs.  Grapsus grapsus is one of the most common crabs along the western coast of the Americas. It is known variously as, "red rock crab", "abuete negro", and "Sally Lightfoot."


It is a quick-moving and agile crab, and hard to catch. Not considered very edible by humans, it is used primarily as bait by fishermen.


Grapsus grapsus was collected by Charles Darwin during his voyages on HMS Beagle,  and also by the first comprehensive study of the fauna of the Gulf of California by Ed Ricketts, together with California author, John Steinbeck and others. Steinbeck records:


"Many people have spoken at length of the Sally Lightfoots. In fact, everyone who has seen them has been delighted with them. The very name they are called by reflects the delight of the name. These little crabs, with brilliant cloisonné carapaces, walk on their tiptoes, They have remarkable eyes and an extremely fast reaction time. In spite of the fact that they swarm on the rocks at the Cape ... they are exceedingly hard to catch. They seem to be able to run in any of four directions; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. They escape the long-handled net, anticipating from what direction it is coming. If you walk slowly, they move slowly ahead of you in droves. If you hurry, they hurry. When you plunge at them, they seem to disappear in a puff of blue smoke—at any rate, they disappear. It is impossible to creep up on them. They are very beautiful, with clear brilliant colors, red and blues and warm browns."


Many crabs typically walk sideways because the articulation of their legs makes a sidelong gait more efficient.  However, some crabs walk forwards or backwards, or even capable of swimming.


Crabs are mostly active animals with complex behaviour patterns. They can communicate by drumming or waving their pincers.

If you haven't seen the viral video of Noisestorm - Crab Rave of dancing crabs which became an internet phenomenon, click the dancing crabs and check out their sideways shuffles. 

Sally Lightfoot

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Sally Lightfoot

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WELCOME TO An Entertainment Site for Scottish Country Dancers - Enjoy the curated selection of theme-related dances for celebrations and holidays, or find a dance associated with a special calendar day, or EVEN your own birthday!  

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