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The Snake Pass

World Snake Day

Jul 16

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"It's not that I don't care for snakes,
But oh what do you do
When a 24-foot python says...
I love you."

~ Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

Fear not, snakes rarely venture into dance venues except for in the form of the undulating Snake Pass figure! Several windy roads in the UK and elsewhere are referred to as well as "The Snake Pass". Snakes and serpents tend to get a lot of bad press historically, owing to what is believed to be an innate negative reaction of humans and primates, an evolutionarily evolved response, vital to survival. However, snakes still get their due with their own awareness day to highlight their diversity and preservation issues. Famous fictional snakes with a fan following include Kaa from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Although the vintage Disney version cast Kaa as the villain with a memorable mesmerizing song solo "Trust in Me" and less than honorable intentions, in the book, Kaa is a more sympathetic character who helps Mowgli out of more than a few jams. Slither and Hisssss! 🐍

The Snake Pass

This dance contains a challenging figure of the same name, "the snake pass" which is sometimes also called "the smoke" for its winding and curling path.

The Snake Pass is the name given to the higher reaches of the A57 road where it crosses the Peak District between Manchester and Sheffield in the north of England. More specifically, the name usually refers to the section between the town of Glossop and the Ladybower reservoir, where the road passes over the high ground between the moorland plateaux of Kinder Scout and Bleaklow.   There are many famous "Snake Passes" elsewhere in the world of equally windy nature.

Snakes figure prominently in human culture from ancient times, revered or reviled, but a few snakes have made their name in literature:

  • Asmodeus Poisonteeth from Brian Jacques' Redwall

  • Kaa from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

  • Nag & Nagaina from Rudyard Kipling's Rikki Tikki Tavi

  • Nagini from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter

So whether you are a student of ophidiology, an ophiophilist, or suffer from ophidiophobia, you can either appreciate or overcome the day by mastering the snake pass.

For more about the actual Snake Pass, click the road sign.


See below for a video of this dance performed by the Tay Dancers in 2015.

The Snake Pass

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

The Snake Pass

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