What is Scottish Country Dance & music?

Sociable, enjoyable and ever-evolving; Scottish Country Dancing may have its roots in the assemblies and balls of the 18th and 19th centuries, but its popularity has continued to increase to this day. 

Dancers are normally grouped in sets, typically of three, four or five couples arranged either in two lines (partners facing each other) or in a square. They work together to dance a short sequence of formations that provide a particular dance with its identity. The originality of the formations ensures each couple gets the chance to experience the dance from different positions.

Scottish Country Dancers mainly dance for pleasure, finding the shared experience of dance both physically and mentally enjoyable. Whether they dance at a local club, in a town hall, or at a one-off Ceilidh event, the result is the same!   

It can get competitive! Many groups around the world perform displays at events or festivals in which they are able to share their skills in the dance form with others. Although the basic steps and formations are easy to pick up, the level of technique for competitive dancing is, inevitably, more demanding. 

"Discover a historic dance form, with its foot firmly in the 21st Century"

Scottish Country Dancing
Scottish Country Dancing
Scottish Country Dancing
Dancing into the future

We continue to promote and standardise Scottish Country Dance so that anyone is able to dance at local groups and RSCDS Branches almost anywhere in the world. New dances are being written all the time with each varying considerably in complexity and accessibility. Whatever your experience of SCD, the range of dances available caters for complete beginners, dancers of limited experience and also provides challenge and interest for the most experienced dancers.

Tunes to dance to

There are three principle rhythm types used in Scottish Country dancing: Reel, Jig and Strathspey, although it is not uncommon to find a Waltz or a March thrown in for good measure. 

When you listen to Scottish Country Dance music you will most probably hear a fiddle, accordion, piano, percussion and perhaps a bagpipe, as this is standard instrumentation for a Scottish Country Dance Band (maybe not always the bagpipe). 

There are many well-known Scottish Country Dance Bands and band leaders around the world and we encourage you to visit our shop where you can hear snippets from our CDs of some of the most popular. If you would like to learn more about the dance bands please get in touch and we will be happy to help. 

For more information on the many different rhythm types found in Scottish Country Dancing, as well videos and tunes of well-known examples, please visit our music resources page.

Learn more About Scottish Country Dance Music

Sign up for the RSCDS electronic newsletter

Sign up to:

  • Keep up to date with RSCDS events 
  • Advertise your event with the RSCDS and reach thousands of people worldwide

Join an RSCDS Branch & receive member benefits

There are 159 RSCDS Branches and over 300 Affiliated Groups in more than 50 countries around the world, located on all continents (except Antarctica).

They organise and run classes, dances and other social events in their own areas and are committed to helping develop Scottish Dance and Music for future generations.

We encourage you to try Scottish Country Dancing for yourself to see just how much fun it can be, so please come along and learn how to 'Dance Scottish'. 

Wherever you are in the world there is most likely Scottish Country Dancing.

Find my nearest branch

  • Copyright © 2018 Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
  • Registered Charity No. SC 016085
  • Company No. SC 480530
  • 12 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 7AF