Scottish Country Dancing is a social form of dancing. A bit like folk dancing, Scottish Country Dance is danced in groups and is lots of fun.

What is Scottish Country Dance?

Scottish Country Dance is a bit like folk dancing but differs in that historically it was danced by people of all classes and has precise footwork.

Scottish dancing traces its roots back into the mists of time, but Scottish Country Dancing as we know it today owes much to its development in the 18th and 19th centuries under the influence of European dancing masters.

At this time outstanding musicians, especially fiddlers, gave new life to traditional music and wrote many lively reels and jigs and graceful strathspeys in the traditional style.

Scottish Country dancing offers both physical and social benefits. You don’t need a partner to join a dance club. Partners who go dancing at clubs, dances or balls, do not dance all dances together.

It can be performed at varying levels of physical energy and is therefore suitable for all age groups and fitness levels.

There are Scottish Country Dance groups all over the world, where Scottish Country Dancing is enjoyed by people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Dancers can travel anywhere in New Zealand and the world and be assured of a warm welcome by local dancers.

Where do you learn Scottish Country Dance?

In New Zealand, Scottish Country Dancing is taught in clubs throughout New Zealand that usually meet weekly from early March to late October.

Many clubs run beginners’ classes or early season courses for beginners, however all are welcome and they cater for new dancers at any time.

In addition clubs are grouped into regions affiliated to the national body, the New Zealand Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Regions often run graded day or weekend schools where new dancers can learn the basics. The “Branch” runs an annual summer school held in a different centre each year. The summer school runs classes for all grades of dancers and attracts dancers from throughout New Zealand and overseas.

What age can your child start Scottish Country Dance?

Many clubs run classes for children from primary school age. The New Zealand Branch runs a Junior Associate Member programme which coordinates activities for young dancers including newsletters, national “camps” and medal tests.

How do you progress over time?

For young dancers the Junior Associate Member programme provides proficiency tests starting at bronze level and progressing to silver and gold.

There is no formal grading system for adult dancers. Dancers simply become more experienced over time and eligible to attend more advanced classes at day, weekend and summer schools.

Dancers who progress to the stage where they want to teach dancing sit the formal examinations run by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society to become a certificated teacher. Teacher training and certification takes at least two or three years from the time that teacher training commences

What gear do you need for Scottish Country Dance?

To get started all you need is a pair of soft shoes (e.g. sneakers). Eventually you will want to purchase a pair of dancing pumps. These can be bought at a dance shoe retail shop; many dance schools have one on their premises. Normal dress for club dancing is tidy casual wear.

On dance nights dress is a little more formal – men who have kilts will wear them, but kilt and jacket is not compulsory even at formal dances in New Zealand.

How much does Scottish Country Dance cost?

Scottish Country Dancing in New Zealand is a non-profit making activity.

Most clubs charge a modest fee to cover the cost of hall hire and such things as purchase and maintenance of audio equipment and music.

Some clubs charge an annual fee (usually less than $100) while others charge nightly (two or three dollars). Often the first night of dancing is free of charge for new dancers.

Dancers are encouraged to subscribe to the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. Subscription entitles them to receive publications from the RSCDS headquarters in Scotland and from the NZ Branch. This subscription is currently (2006) $75 per year and also entitles members to cheaper admission to many club and region dances.

Some New Zealand clubs combine the RSCDS fee with their club fee but in most cases it is an optional extra fee.

How much time does Scottish Country Dance take to learn?

Most club nights run from around 7:30pm to around 10:00 pm.

Great Scottish Country Dance Websites

This is the New Zealand branch website. It has links to the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society website and other Scottish Country Dance websites.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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