What is Scottish Country Dancing?
Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) is a form of social dance with roots stretching back for centuries involving groups of couples of dancers tracing progressive patterns according to a predetermined choreography. Country dancing is sometimes mistaken for a type of folk dancing, but it is actually the ballroom dance form of Scotland, as its original base of dancers was from the more educated and wealthy classes of the Renaissance.
Participants are grouped into sets, typically of 3, 4 or 5 couples arranged either in two lines (men facing women) or in a square, and 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.
SCD is mainly danced socially, for pleasure and enjoyment, but many groups also perform; there are even occasional competitions. Although the basic steps and formations are easy to pick up, the technique is being honed continuously so that at its highest levels it can now be an extremely athletic, balletic dance form (not that the majority of social dancers take it as seriously as that!).
There can be no dancing without music, and SCD has attracted some of the most talented musicians to play for it. From the first chord to the final bow or curtsey, dancers are inspired by the driving reels, jaunty jigs, smooth strathspeys or lilting slow airs – leading to the popular expression “the music will tell you” (now also immortalised in the name of a dance).
Scottish dress is not required to attend clubs, dances or balls, nor do you need a partner to join a dance club. Partners who go dancing at clubs, dances or balls, do not dance all dances together; it is common practice to dance with different partners during a night of dancing.