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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Cushion or Pillow Dance
Cushion dance history photo

Cushion dance history Origins title      The Cushion-Dance (kush-shun) or sometimes Pillow Dance (German-Polstertanz) came to be about 1570 in England and was often done in Cotillions of the time.

   It was often corrupted into the "Kissing-Dance," (German-Kissingtanz) by which a dancer would dance around the room an kiss another not dancing, whom they would now dance with. When the one who was kissed chooses another, they in turn dance then the kissee would kiss another and the cycle repeats with that kissee choosing another and kissing them and so on and on till all participants have been danced with. Sometimes a handkerchief would be used to kiss thru and the Kissee would then receive the Handkerchief until they kissed another. All would partake in this event from the lord, groom, bride, guests, duchesses, maid, waiters, butler, all were equal in this dance.

   The Cushion dance was also known by the name of "Joan Sanderson dance," which was a lively and mirth-provoking dance which made a nice mixer type dance such as parties and weddings, although it has now since died out. There is an excellent description of it in the "Dancing Master," an old dance treatise (manual) on dancing in 1698, which runs as follows below:

   Joan Sanderson, or the Cushion Dance. An old Round Dance.
This dance is begun by a single person (either man or Woman), who, taking a cushion in his hand, dances about the room, and at the end of the tune, (kind of like musical chairs) he stops and sings:

"This dance it will no farther go."
The musician answers: "I pray you, good sir, why say you so?"
Man: "Because Joan Sanderson will not come too."
musician: "She must come too, and she shall come too, and she must come whether she will or no."

   Then he lays down the cushion before a woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses her, singing:
"Welcome, Joan Sanderson, welcome, welcome."

   Then she rises, taking up the cushion, and both dance singing:
"Prinkumprankum is a fine dance, and shall we go dance it once again, and once again, and shall we go dance it once again"

   Then making a stop, the Woman sings as before:
"The dance it will no farther go."
Musician.: "I pray you, madam, why say you so?"
Woman: "Because Joan Sanderson will not come too."
Musician: "He must come too, etc." (as before).

   And so she lays down the cushion before a man, who, kneeling upon it, salutes her, she singing:
"Welcome, Joan Sanderson, etc."
Then he, taking up the cushion, they all three take hands and dance round singing as before, and thus they do till the whole group is taken into the ring.


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Northern England 1570 n/a Round / Cotillion

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a 1713 - Cushion Dance Barley Break / Cushion Dance
    Cushion Dance
    Danse du coussin
    Who Learned You to Dance and a Towdle
            Joan Sanderson
            John (e) Anderson my Jo
            John come Kiss me now
            Then Wilt Thou Go and Leave Me Her

Night Clubs



n/a n/a Derbyshire
            Northern England

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

n/a n/a n/a


            King James - Apothegms

Other Related Dances of the time...

Almain Daldans Kissing Dance Round Dance
Bah at the Bowster Egg Dance Musical Chairs The Trenchmore (French-More)
Coranto Joan Sanderson Dance Polstertanz Wedding Dance
Cotillion Kiss in the Ring Quadrilles  

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Arbeau, Thoinot (1520-1595) n/a King Charles
Maud Karpeles (1956)    



Poets / Writers

Balcarres n/a Davies Gilbert (1823) w
William Dauney (1800-1843)      
William Mure        

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Cotillion Elizabethan Polstertanz  
drinking horn Kissentanz Renaissance    
Dutch (P) Frinkum - (P) Frankum Tudor Dances