Scottish Country Dancing is a form of social dancing danced by a group of, most commonly, three or four couples. As you meet and dance with many other dancers, it’s a good way of getting to know people and making new friends. Although you have a designated partner for each dance, in some dances you can spend more time dancing with the other people in your set, and hardly see your partner from the opening bow and curtsey until the closing one. Scottish Country Dancing is not only a social activity, it's also a good form of both physical and mental exercise, and a wonderful way to de-stress.

Dances consist of a large variety of formations arranged in many different sequences. Some of the dances are several hundred years old, others are very new; some dances are easy, others are extremely challenging. However, once you have mastered the basic formations, you will be able to actively participate wherever there is dancing. Scottish Country Dancing is a living tradition, with dancers constantly devising new dances and developing new formations.

You don’t need a partner or any special equipment to start dancing – just some comfortable clothing and soft-soled shoes. As you become more experienced you will probably buy proper dancing shoes. At social dances, women usually wear full dresses or skirts and tops, or ballgowns for the more formal events, often complemented by tartan sashes, while many men are resplendent in their kilts. Men – you don’t need to wear a kilt! However, until you feel committed enough to buy your own, you might like to borrow or hire one for special occasions.

The Scottish Country Dance Society was formed in Glasgow on 26 November 1923 by Miss (later Dr) Jean Milligan and Mrs Ysobel Stewart, with the principal aim of practising and preserving country dances as danced in Scotland. The society gained its Royal title from King George VI in 1951 to become the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS). The RSCDS currently has about 20,000 members in 166 branches and 437 affiliated clubs world-wide. See the RSCDS website for more detail.

Other forms of Scottish Dancing include Highland Dancing, Ladies' Step Dancing, Ceilidh Dancing and Reeling. Highland Dancing is mainly a solo form of dance, with much emphasis on precise technique and fancy footwork, sometimes danced over swords, done to bagpipe music. Ladies' Step Dancing is something similar intended for the fairer sex, and doesn’t usually involve the swords. A ceilidh (pronounced "kaylee") is an informal gathering at which music and dance feature; ceilidh dances are fairly simple, a mixture of round the room dances and set dances. Reeling is favoured by the Scottish military; the dancing style is more rolling and less balletic than Country Dancing, although more defined than Ceilidh Dancing, and the repertoire not as broad as in Country Dancing.

Scottish Country Dancing is good for your physical and mental health and social wellbeing, according to recent research by the University of Cumbria.

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