Talk:Scottish country dance

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I am concerned that this page is of High importance and yet only C class and given the principle topics of discussion on this talk page it would seem that there is considerable long-standing disagreement in certain areas. This is true of many articles in Wikipedia and yet many of those articles are well written and represent their topic well, this should be the standard that this article presents too. Although I have left the arguments below they contribute only points to note where there may be disagreement for future editers rather than useful information that contributes much to the page in its present state. I would encourage those interested parties to put their energy into improving the article rather than rehashing old issues. - River, 12:01 12 December 2011 (UTC)


The article at was taken from an older version of this page, which I (mostly) wrote. - Anselm Lingnau

I agree that there may well be dancing at a ceilidh (although there doesn't have to be) but there's nothing special about it, as far as I'm concerned. Can you give an example of "ceilidh dancing" which is not Disco, Old Tyme or Scottish Country Dance? -- Derek Ross

I would consider most round the room dances to be ceilidh dances as opposed to scottish country dances, but I don't know about Old Tyme and I've virtually never seen disco at a ceilidh... but then may that's peculiar to Edinburgh student ceilidhs...

Dances I've seen at ceilidhs/on ceilidh programs:

Ceilidh: dashing white seargent, military twostep, st bernards waltz, Britannia twostep, eva threestep, strip the willow, canadian/highland barn dance, shetland/orcadian/skye strip the willow[1], circassian circle, gay gordons, highland scottishe, pride of erin waltz

Disputable ceilidh/country: flying scotsman, marmelade sandwich, dunedin festival dance, virgina reel (depends on variation)

Country: eightsome reel, bonnie anne, schehallion(sp?)

Disputable country/highland: foursome reel (plus (half) reel of tulloch), shepherd's crook, macdonald of sleat

  • <:@)

[1] What is the name of this dance! :)


When I said I don't know about old time, I meant that i don't know what it is... *<:@) - with apologies that I have such specialist knowledge SCD & ceilidh is all I dance ('cetp for a year of ballet :)

Most of the dances which you put under the ceilidh heading are what I would call Old Tyme dances. However I think it's important to make the point that the sort of public dance, commonly called a ceilidh, which you have attended at the student union, is quite restricted in ceilidh terms. Most private ceilidhs are social events where the participants entertain each other with music, songs and 'party pieces' which you hardly ever get at a public ceilidh. Dancing may well be a part of that and will probably consist of the Old Tyme dances in your ceilidh list since they are very well known, but it depends on the musicians present and the knowledge and tastes of the dancers. If they know a dance and they want to dance it, they will, whether it's on the SCDA official list or not. Even Modern dancing such as disco is a possibility at a private ceilidh although it's very unlikely at a public one. -- Derek Ross

Fair enough and thank you for the clarification, I'll bear it in mind *<:@)

Highland Dancing/ Scottish Sword DancingEdit

Someone should mention that highland dancing (solo display dancing) is sometimes done in the contect of Scottish Country Dancing. At highland games they go the whole hog and do the same dance with swords on the ground (Scottish sword dancing). -- Anonymous Reader

Highland dancing and Scottish country dancing don't really have a lot to do with each other. You can mix the two to good effect in the context of a Scottish dance display, for variety, but as SCD is mostly social (i.e., for the enjoyment of the participants in the dance) and Highland is mostly display/competitive sport (i.e., for the enjoyment of an audience or to win something) the philosophies are completely different.
Generally, the Highland dances performed at highland games (such as the Highland Fling, sword dance, or Seann Truibhas), being solo dances, are completely different from Scottish country dances, which are invariably performed by groups of dancers; conversely, there are a few highland-style group dances which are part of the SCD repertoire (such as the Axum Reel) but none of them involve swords. There are some Scottish country dances that prescribe Highland setting steps, such as Glasgow Highlanders or Schiehallion, but they are still country dances, not Highland dances. Besides, Highland dancing is almost exclusively done to bagpipe music, SCD virtually never.
Incidentally, Highland dancing is most often practiced today by young girls -- grown-up men dancing Highland are few and far between in comparison. -- Alingnau

Agreed. Highland Dancing is Scottish/Irish in origin whereas Contra Dancing is English/French in origin. Country Dancing fell out of favour in most parts of Europe except for Scotland during the nineteenth century and that is why it is particularly identified with Scotland in modern times. -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:14, 2004 Dec 6 (UTC)

Clean up pleaseEdit

At the foot of the page is [ [ Category : List of Scottish country dances]] - which in turn leads to List of Scottish country dances. Or maybe it is the other way round. In any event, it needs a cleanup please. I am unsure how to fix it. 14:35, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

Be bold. Go through and see if you can word things differently. Add words, change words, delete unnecessary words. Add anything you know about it, and worry about fixing the formatting and stuff up later. Oh, and generally, you put the {{helpme}} tag on your user talk page. GofG ||| Contribs 14:51, 25 March 2006 (UTC)


The final parargraph of the 'Steps and Technique' section has me a little puzzled.

"SCD is very much a team effort, and attempts at self-glorification through unconsidered "embellishments" are often frowned upon by others. The general feeling is that "extras" are fine when the time and place are right, but should be left out when less experienced dancers in the set might be confused, or during classes."

Firstly it simply raised two questions: What, in the author's opinion is the right time and place for 'embelishments'? I agree wholeheartedly that they should not be done in sets where they will cause disruption, I would equally argue that less experienced dancers should be warned of the local common ones and have it explained to them that they should and can (if the dancer carrying out said embellishments can actually do them) continue with the unaltered figure/figures. This leads into the second question; If these embellishments are not appropriate in class then where are dancers supposed to learn both them and the accompanying footwork? The learning and teaching of the locally common practices would certainly help to eliminate the problem of these embelishments causing confusion to a newer/ less experienced dancer. If they have met them and had them explained in the 'safe' environment of a class then the experience of them or others at a social dance will be far less distracting.

I have often come accross the advice that if one wants to add embelishments: First check the set can 'cope', if so as dancing couple dance the first repetition as written as technically accurately (including footwork) as you can (mainly to prove to those of the authors persuasion that you CAN) then the second with whatever alterations you wish (maintaining the footwork etc) - if these will impact on or require other couple's participation it is clearly necessary to agree this in advance. However the vast majority of alterations that I am aware of, if danced 'correctly', do not require others to change their dancing, they certainly make the dancing look different which can be confusing for less experienced dancers which is why judgement must be used in choosing to dance them but that is not the same thing.

The second point is that I would say that the reason I and most people I know add 'embelishments' is not for 'self glorification' as has so politely been suggested but for enjoyment. It appears, in my experience, to be more common among the relatively speaking younger dancers. I would suggest that those who disapprove should consider whether this is a factor in the reluctance of young people to be involved in dancing. Especially given one is seldom left in any doubt as to a person's opinion should you add them in a set or in the presence of someone who disapproves. Interestingly it is also my experience that those who disapprove most strongly are NOT those who are confused by others dancing these variations, in fact they are usually more than capable of informing you precisely what was not correct and of coping with them. Those who cannot cope while sometimes, depending on personality, being upset or bothered by their confusion when they thought they knew a dance, are usually more concerned by their lack of knowledge and the inconsiderate nature of the addition. They are often very appreciative of the added enjoyment and often request to be taught the alteration. Clearly adding without consideration of others is not something that should be encouraged and if this is the case then all involved may be upset.

I hope someone can enlighten me on these issues, Puzzled. 14:38, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

There is a fine line between "embellishing" a dance because it seems the right thing at the moment given the occasion, time, make-up of the set, etc., and "embellishing" a dance because everyone does it all the time (i.e., some dancers appear physically unable to dance diagonal reels of four with corners without putting extra twiddles in the middle). The former takes a certain amount of consideration -- one would, as mentioned, probably forego the "embellishment" if other dancers would be inconvenienced by it or if less experienced dancers might become confused -- while the latter is not embellishing but a gratuitious choreography change that isn't even spontaneous in many cases. There is nothing wrong with teaching the usual embellishments (like extra twiddles in reels of four) in class but even so this should not lead to them being used every possible time even in a completely unrelated class situation.

Personally (and I'm probably still among the "younger" dancers) I am perfectly able to enjoy most dances as written, without extra embellishments. What I can't stand is people "embellishing" a dance to an extent where it is impossible for the rest of the set to do their bit properly. This begins with people stampeding so far down the middle that they can never make it back to the top in time for the second couple to join them for a poussette, and continues with, say, second corners in "The Irish Rover" taking up so much time during their half reel of four by twiddling, clapping hands etc. that the dancing couple has no time to turn into the reels of three across. This is what I mean with "self-glorification"; it may be very enjoyable indeed for the people doing it, but it isn't for those that they should be dancing *with* (rather than against).

Having said that, one thing I disapprove of even more is people (the "dance police") turning a social function into a dance class, by telling off other dancers for adding embellishments or even just making mistakes. I think that the "reluctance of young people to be involved in dancing" is more to do with an overemphasis of "right" vs. "wrong" than with a tendency to teach dances as they are in the book (without embellishments). As a dance teacher I strive to teach dancing that is technically correct as well as fun (since the better your technique is, the more enjoyment you can derive from the dancing) but I also try to impress upon my class (in which, I'm happy to say, there is no shortage whatever of "young people") that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes; it is more important to be able to fix them, and help other people who are lost!

Anselm Lingnau 19:37, 14 Jun 2006 (UTC)

I would suggest that all of this discussion indicates bias to one degree or other, that embellishments exist is true, that some people disagree with them is true, that some people approve of them is true. Members of the RSCDS are divided on the issue, non-members of the RSCDS are divided on the issue. This should be discussed on the page but no conclusion or bias should be included. - River 02:51, 12 December 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Removal of unsubstantiated claimEdit

I removed the claim that SCD is 'more popular than it ever was when it was only done in Scotland' as this seems questionable given the popularity of Scottish dances in the 19th century and the presumed regularity of dancing in Scotland at any time - as far as I know no estimate exists of the active community of Scottish dancers worldwide, if it does then I retract my edit! Rmcubed 01:38, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

There are approximately 20.000 people who are members of the RSCDS. If one estimates that approximately 1 dancer out of 10 is actually an RSCDS member (which is fairly conservative looking at, say, the SCD scene in Germany, where I live), that puts the number of dancers at 200.000 or more. Anselm Lingnau 00:53, 13 April 2007 (CEST)

If one chose to use Japan as a basis for the estimate one would fine the number of dancers at approximately 20,000 to 22,000 dancers since almost all Japanese SCD dancers I have met (I am an active member in Tokyo at present) are RSCDS members... I would suggest that neither Germany nor Japan (nor indeed Scotland) are representative countries on which to base estimates, England might be a better area to use for judgement but I wouldn't stake an unsubstantiated claim on it. - River 02:51, 12 December 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

I would estimate about one in five where I am but my estimates really have no place in Wiipedia! I believe there is some controversy going on in countries like Australia because the cost gets multiplied somehow, I haven't looked into it, which would tend to reduce numbers. Dmcq (talk) 08:48, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Neutral point of view of History sectionEdit

I have added a neutral point of view notice to the history section of this article. I don't think this applies to the whole section, but there are many parts where the tone of the prose drifts. With very little direct online references provided, it is difficult for a reader to verify the contents. - Soothrhins (talk) 07:46, 18 September 2020 (UTC)