Return to dancing in Scotland

Back to dance for Scottish Branches and Groups


After more than a year of virtual classes and events, it finally feels as if the Scottish Country Dancing we know and love is coming back.

Click on the link below to listen to a message from the RSCDS Chairman, Lorna Ogilvie.


The COVID-19 regulations and advice differ in each of the UKs countries, so some of you have been able to dance outdoors. Some Branches and Affiliated Groups have restarted indoor classes. But many are only just beginning to think about a return to dancing.

The RSCDS has been issuing guidance and advice throughout the pandemic, as well as producing the hugely successful Dance Scottish at Home online events, our popular podcasts, newsletters and other ways of ensuring the Scottish Country Dancing global community has continued to thrive.

With Scotland moving out of COVID Level 0 on August 9, this feels like the perfect time to reiterate some of our advice on returning to the dance floor - but also to share helpful new information and guidance with UK Branches and Groups.


General Advice for Branches and Groups


Branches and Groups use a variety of venues, such as community halls or churches. While the four UK governments issue guidelines and advice, it is up to each venue to decide how and when it will reopen to dance classes and other activities. If Branches and Groups have not already been in contact with their venue operators, they should be doing so now to start discussing a return to dancing and what that entails.

Venue operators may have their own specific guidance on hygiene, use of toilets, making bookings and payments etc. For indoor dancing at venues with no air conditioning, doors and windows should be open for ventilation as much as possible.


Branches and Groups should review their own COVID-19 advice and requirements. You can suggest to dancers that they bring their own hand sanitiser, water and refreshments. Dancers should wash and sanitise their hands regularly. Where hot drinks are provided, bringing their own mug would be advisable. Branches and Groups should also continue to collect contact details in the event that someone contracts COVID-19.

Physical preparation

While many of us have been dancing at home through the RSCDS and Branch online classes and events, we should also be preparing for a return to full dancing by ensuring we are in good condition physically. If you havent danced for a while - and even if you have - start to do some daily warmup exercises and stretches to avoid any tweaks or stiffness when you start dancing in person. There are lots of RSCDS online classes available for tips on how best to warm up.

Teachers might consider a gradual build-up to dancing in the first few classes, including additional warm-up activities and perhaps fewer dances, interspersed with some social time.

Branches and Groups know the ages, skill levels and capabilities of their members - so they can give specific guidance on what physical activities could help members prepare physically for the return to dancing. Consideration could be given to balance, stamina, flexibility, strength, mobility and endurance.


If you’re not already doing so, speak to your members in advance of any return to dancing. Keep them well informed and ensure they understand what the regulations and guidance are - and what the classes and events will look and feel like.

The past 16 months have affected people in many different ways - physically, psychologically and emotionally. It should be up to each individual dancer to decide when it is right for them to return safely to dancing, in line with their local and national regulations, as well as their Branch or Group guidelines.

Branches and Groups should also be communicating with their committees, teachers and musicians about the return to dancing and all that it entails. Also remember to update any relevant information on your Branch or Group website.


Are you ready to welcome new dancers? Branches and Groups may feel they should restart with existing members only at first, or have a separate class or taster event for newcomers.

The RSCDS was planning to launch a UK-wide campaign about now, to encourage new people to try Scottish Country Dancing. But the feedback from many Branches and Groups is that it is too soon for them, so we have delayed the campaign to allow Branches and Groups to get back up and running before reaching out to would-be dancers in the coming weeks and months.

Update your Branch or Group RSCDS website page

The Branch and Group Finder is one of the best-read sections on the RSCDS website, with contact details and links to Branches’ own websites. This is a good opportunity for all Branches and Groups to ensure that the information on their Branch and Group finder page is accurate and up to date.


Specific advice for Scotland

On August 9, Scotland moved to beyond Level 0- with all venues able to reopen. There is no longer a legal requirement for physical distancing and no limit on the number of people gathering, indoors or outside.

Scottish Country Dancing is classified as an organised contact sportwhen it comes to COVID-19 guidance from the Scottish Government. That means - as the national governing body for Scottish Country Dancing - the RSCDS receives regular updates and guidance on the return to sport and physical activity from sportscotland.

Sportscotland advises that dancers will be allowed to have hand contact and do not need to wear face masks while dancing indoors. However, masks should be worn when not dancing. That also applies to teachers and musicians, who should wear masks when not actively teaching or playing. The Scottish Government encourages regular lateral flow tests, although there is currently no statutory requirement to be vaccinated in order to participate in sporting activities.

If the venue for the dancing has additional guidance, this must be followed.

Here is sportscotlands latest guidance for Scottish Branches and Affiliated Groups of the RSCDS.

  • Before any dancing, it is the responsibility of each Branch or Group Committee to appoint a responsible person(s) as the COVID Officer. This person will act as the point of contact on all things related to the COVID-19 regulations. The Branch or Group COVID Officer should complete the e-learning module which has been created by sportscotland to support those taking on the role. The Branch or Group COVID Officer must also ensure that full risk assessments are in place before any dancing.
  • Branches and Groups must check with their insurance company that valid insurance cover is in place.
  • Branches and Groups must check with their venues for specific regulations on procedures and the numbers they can accommodate. This information, which may include ventilation and hygiene requirements, should be shared with teachers and musicians.
  • It is important for Branches and Groups to ensure that they have up-to-date contact details for all dancers, teachers and musicians. Although we are now out of lockdown, there is always the possibility that COVID regulations could change at short notice, which might mean the cancellation of a class or dance. The COVID Officer should put in place clear procedures for quickly contacting teachers and dancers in an evolving situation.
  • At every class and event, an attendance register must be taken for contact tracing purposes

Branches and Groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the guidelines from the relevant sports bodies for that country.


Taking Part in Sport and Exercise in England - Sport England


Taking Part in Sport and Exercise in Wales - Sport Wales

Northern Ireland

Taking Part in Sport and Exercise in Northern Ireland - Sport NI

Outside the UK

Globally, Branches and Affiliated Groups in some countries have continued to dance during the pandemic, while others have been affected in a similar way to the UK. Each Branch or Group should follow their own local and national guidelines.


Neither sportscotland or The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society nor any contributor to the content of this guidance, shall be responsible for any loss or damage of any kind, which may arise from your use of or reliance on this guidance note. Care has been taken over the accuracy of the content of this note but sportscotland and the RSCDS cannot guarantee that the information is up to date or reflects all relevant legal requirements.



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