What is Scottish Country Dancing?

Scottish Country Dancing is a social form of dancing in a group (or set). A regular dance partner is not required as it is customary to dance with a different partner for each dance.

Many people think Scottish Country Dancing involves swords and people in kilts leaping energetically about. That is actually Highland Dancing, which is competition based.
Scottish Country dancing is more like folk dancing. You may have seen the episode of Downton Abbey where Anna learnt the Eightsome Reel in secret to surprise her husband and join in the Scottish Ball the family attended.

There are several basic steps and about a dozen figures which will get you through quite a number of dances. There is also more emphasis on “steps” than in, say, ceilidh dancing, but the basic technique can be learned through a couple of months’ worth of practice evenings once a week at a Club.

Dances are usually danced in a set of eight people – 4 men and 4 women arranged either in two lines (men facing women) or in a square, and they work together to dance a sequence of formations. This will leave them in a new order, and the dance is repeated enough times to bring them back to their starting positions, with everyone dancing each position in turn.
It is a very social form of dancing, because you get to dance with seven or so people at once instead of just with one partner.

There are over 7000 published dances and more are being devised probably as we speak. Obviously there is no way that anyone could remember all of these but by using standard names and description of the formations that make up these dances, dancers can dance an unfamiliar dance from a briefing (where the person “briefing” the dances will tell dancers in what order the formations appear in the dance.

Schools, balls and social dances are being held in places all over the world.
It is nice to be able to travel and join a SCD group for a night nearly everywhere you go.

There are over 7000 dances for a tutor to choose from for Club nights, classes and dance programmes. Until the end of WWII, dances were derived from traditional sources such as old manuscripts and printed dance collections. Since then, contemporary dances are being continually written and dance books published by the RSCDS feature these. There are 47 dance books published by the RSCDS, and organisations and individuals publish books or individual dances. This fusion of the traditional and the modern are part of the attraction of Scottish country dancing.