About Scottish Country Dancing

Scottish Country Dancing

A distinctive style of social dancing, with groups of couples in sets dancing progressive patterns, Scottish Country Dancing originated in the late 1700s. It is danced to different forms of music (reels, jigs and strathspeys) and heralds from the Gaelic tradition of highland Scotland, with a less formal style danced at ceilidhs. Follow this link for a more detailed description of Scottish Country Dancing.

Scottish Country Dancing is danced for enjoyment and is invigorating both physically and mentally. Basic steps and formations are easy to pick up and dancers can develop their technique and expertise to the level they wish. Branch members are welcoming to all dancers, new and experienced, and practice the protocols of Scottish Country Dancing.


Sets usually consist of four couples positioned adjacent to each other in two parallel lines, with the men and women in a couple facing each other. This arrangement is a longwise set and the dance is progressive. Dances can be specifically designed to work in smaller sets, such as three couple sets and sets can also be formed in the shape of a square.


With each turn of the dance, the couple at the top of the set, who begin the dance, finish one place further down the set, eventually arriving at the bottom of the set. In succession, each of the other couples, through the cycles of the dance, progress to the top of the set, take their turn and then progress to the bottom or 'foot' of the set.


Dances are composed of formations which are structured arrangements of specific steps and movements. These can be used in different sequences in different dances. On mastering a few basic formations, a country dancer can easily participate in any country dancing!


Dances vary from the lively rhythms of reels and jigs to the slower pace of the elegant strathspey. It is an enjoyable, interactive social activity that can be approached alone, with a partner or with friends.

Research on dancing - in general, but Scottish Country Dancing specifically - has shown considerable benefit in resisting dementia / Alzheimer's, through challenging the mind with its specific steps and formations, phrasing these with the music and synchronising with partners and other dancers in the set. Perfect exercise for the body and brain! For more on the benefits of dancing go to this link.


Scottish Country Dancing is an enjoyable dance tradition that has spread throughout the world and you don't need to be Scottish to join in! As there are branches and clubs around the world, you'll find one near your home, your work and wherever you go on holidays!

All you need is a pair of light shoes (and a light heart!) for fun evenings of dancing, from the young to the young at heart, from beginners to veterans -
join us for a dance whenever you're in Canberra.