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Scottish country dance is social dancing for all ages and all levels of fitness.
  • Fun for all ages
  • Exercises your body and mind
  • Provides friendship
  • Great music
  • No partner needed.
It is usually danced in groups of two, three or four couples, facing each other in lines or squares.

It has its roots in the Highland Reels of Scotland and the 17th century dances of Europe. Together with its English counterpart, Scottish country dance has helped to spawn ceilidh dancing, contra and square dancing.

It is a dance for the ballroom, dance hall, village square or local inn. It has been popular amongst gentry, royalty and the common folk for well over 200 years.

In Adelaide we dance Scottish in schools and church halls, clubs and pubs, as well as each other’s back yards and lounge rooms.

There are well over 15,000 documented Scottish country dances and the list is constantly growing.  Many of these are listed and detailed in the Strathspey Server Dance Database.

History of Scottish Country Dance

Today, the term ‘Scottish Country Dance’ embraces the social dances of Scotland that have evolved from many traditions and are danced throughout the world by Scots and non-Scots alike.  Figure dances of the countryside called ‘country dances’ can be traced back to the English Court of Elizabeth I.  Often set to Scottish or Irish tunes, these dances soon became very popular.  It has its roots in the Highland Reels of Scotland and the 17th century dances of Europe. Together with its English counterpart, Scottish country dance has helped to spawn ceilidh dancing, contra and square dancing.

The constant influence of various European Courts meant that dancers were always absorbing new ideas of style and content. The greatest flowering of this form of dance was in the assembly rooms of the 18th century. During this period of Enlightenment, Edinburgh emulated the European capitals and dance assemblies flourished.  Other cities and towns soon followed and dancing became an accepted part of social interaction.

Scotland, of course, had other traditions of dance and here the country dances incorporated features from older strathspeys, reels, rants and jigs. The result was a style of dance with which the whole of Scottish society could feel comfortable; the elegance and courtesy of the ‘country dance’ and the energy and step precision of the old ‘reels’.  

While country dances died out in England, they continued to flourish in Scotland. The dancing masters, who travelled extensively throughout Europe, were often skilled musicians and helped to widen the repertoire to include newer, fashionable dances such as quadrilles and polkas.




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