Originating as a Scottish folk dance, jigs are usually characterized by their use of compound meters. For instance, a double jig is usually transcribed with a 6/8 tempo, while a slip jig is usually transcribed with a meter of 9/8. Scottish versions of this dance come in several different types, with the double jig being among the most popular. One very popular Irish version is the Irish Washerwoman.
Just about all jigs are built on a foundation of two eight-bar parts, with each part being repeated at least once. As is true with just about all Scottish music, it is not unusual to string two or more jigs into one continuous play and dance. Dancing is a task that requires a lot of energy and a great deal of enthusiasm. The fast pace of the song makes it a particularly energetic and happy dance, which allowed it to find its way into American slang vernacular with a great deal of ease.
During modern times, many people have used the phrase “dance a jig” when something wonderful has happened in their lives and they wish to express the sense of euphoria they are feeling at the time. Today, even people who have never seen a jig danced nor have any idea of the origins of the phrase understand clearly that this phrase means to be very happy with a course of events.
It is important to note that jigs can be danced individually or as part of a two-person unit. If the dance is danced by a team, the task will require a great deal of coordination between the two partners, as the quick pace of the music and the dance can lead to some interesting twists and turns.