Dancing in Scotland

Scottish Dancing, also known as Scottish Country Dancing or Highland Dancing is a form of recreational dancing practised in Scotland.

About Scottish Dancing

Scottish Country Dancing can be done in a number of ways; solo, as part of a couple, or in a ‘set’ – a group made up of three or four couples. Children are taught basic Scottish Country Dancing at school and most Scots will be able to do the easier dances.

Popular dances

The most popular dances are generally those which are done in pairs, such as the Gay Gordons or the Military Two-Step. Larger dances that require three or four couples to take part in a ‘set’ include The Dashing White Sergeant, The Eightsome Reel and Strip the Willow. The latter is one of the most vigorous dances, with dancers almost constantly spinning each other throughout the course of the dance. A modified version of this dance, called the Orcadian Strip the Willow, has no limit on the amount of participants and nearly 2000 people took part in one recorded version during Edinburgh’s New Year celebrations in 2000.


Dancing competitions

Scottish Dancing is a popular competitive sport in Scotland, with many people travelling the country during the summer to take part in dancing competitions at the numerous Highland Games that are held around the country. Generally speaking, these are solo competitions, with each dancer performing a solo dance such as the Highland Fling or the Sword Dance to the accompaniment of a lone piper, in front of a panel of judges.

Taking part

For recreational dancing, it is best to attend a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee). These are held in village halls throughout the country on any night of the week although usually on Saturdays. They are generally advertised in local papers or village noticeboards and visitors are always welcomed. Locals will happily help out learner dancers by showing them the steps and helping them through the dance.