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What is Scottish Country Dancing?

This page is intended for those who are new to Scottish Country Dancing, or have not been involved with it for many years. 

If this doesn't apply to you, go straight to :                    

Scottish Country Dancing is a type of dancing performed by groups of couples in sets (usually of 3, 4 or 5 couples).  The dances typically consist of a sequence of formations, many of which are common to a lot of different dances, and in the majority of dances each couple takes turns at being the leading couple.


It should not be confused with:

-    Highland Dancing, where the dancers perform as individuals using intricate and energetic steps, as in the Highland Fling.

-    Ceilidh Dancing, which is a mixture of some basic country dances with a variety of other styles including two-steps, waltzes and circle dances, and is often seen at weddings and social gatherings.

It shares its origins and some features with English Country Dancing, but the two have diverged in the course of two centuries and different basic steps are used. 

There are different styles of Scottish Country Dancing, which apply in particular to the way steps and hand-holds are performed, and to the dances in the repertoire.  In The Addlestone & District Scottish Society, we dance according to the practices of The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) which was founded in 1923 and has over 11,000 members worldwide.  It has published over a thousand different dances (and its branches and affiliated groups have published many times more).


An alternative style, referred to as Reeling, is also popular in the UK.  It has a very limited repertoire of dances, and is "rather more rumbustious and physical with a lot of clapping, stamping and twirling of partners" (according to Wimbledon Reels website).


These differences in style may be appreciated from videos on YouTube, such as this one in RSCDS style, and this one in Reeling style.  

For more information about the RSCDS and its role, see:  


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