What is Scottish Country Dancing?

You can find a terrific description and history at this web site: What is SCD?

Do I need prior dance training?

No. Even if you’ve never done any type of dancing before, you can still learn to do Scottish Country dance! If you have contra or English folk dance experience though, you might catch on a bit quicker. Much of the footwork is done from first, second and third positions from ballet, and so those childhood ballet lessons may even come in handy.

Do I need a partner?

Absolutely not! Even though Scottish Country dancing is social dance (meaning, you’ll dance with a partner), you don’t have to bring your own. We’re all friendly folk, and we encourage people to constantly change partners. If you have a friend, spouse, significant other, etc. that you’d like to bring, that’s terrific.

How strenous is Scottish Country Dancing?

It depends on the dance. Jigs, reels and hornpipes are generally fairly fast, while strathspeys are slow, graceful dances. If you aren’t able to keep up, that’s ok. You can sit out dances that you may not feel up to. Even if you have medical problems or don’t move as fast as you used to, you can still enjoy Scottish Country dance! You’re never too old, either–some of our best dancers are in their seventies!

What kind of shoes do I need?

Don’t feel that you have to go out and buy “ghillies”–the special leather slippers worn by many Scottish Country dancers, both male and female. If you find that you enjoy this type of dancing, you may wish to purchase a pair later. We recommend buying a pair of ballet slippers(women) and men should wear some sort of soft-soled shoe, but for your first class or so tennis shoes will work. Avoid street shoes–they are almost always too stiff to allow you to do proper footwork.

What sort of clothing should I wear?

Loose, comfortable clothing is best. Jeans are ok as long as they allow you to move. Skirts and kilts are not required. You will get hot very fast, so light clothing is also a good idea.

How much does it cost?

If you pay by the class, it costs $3.00 per person. If you choose to join the group, it costs $50.00 a year or $25.00 for half a year (contact us for yearly or half-yearly rates for students and children). We don’t meet every week in the summer, so everyone pays by the class during the summer season.

What does RSCDS stand for and what is it?

RSCDS stands for The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. It is the worldwide association of Scottish Country dancers. It has been promoting this type of dance since 1923. Dancing, Teaching and Training Events are co-ordinated by the Society in many countries throughout the world. When you become a member of our group you can also opt to join RSCDS, which entitles you to recieve the Society’s Bulletin, a book of dance instruction and discounts on products such as books and videos from the Society. Membership in RSCDS is not required to be a member of a Scottish Country Dance group.

What is the standard etiquette for SCD?

Are there other Scottish Country Dance groups in the Cleveland area?

No.    Just the Cleveland Hts. group for the time being.

Ten Tips for Beginning Dancers
This article, from the Country Dance and Song Society News, Northampton, Massachusetts, via the Petronella Paper.
1. Relax. Everyone was a beginner at one time.
2. Don’t panic. If you mess up, smile, apologize, and go on to the next figure. It’s more important to be in the right place fo the next figure than to complete every move.
3. Learn the basic figures and timing before adding flourishes. You have lots of time later to add your own touches.
4. It’s the custom to change partners for each dance, and women ask men to dance as often as men ask women. (And women ask women, and men ask men.)
5. If you ask someone to dance and he or she says no, don’t worry about it.
6. Don’t rush away from your partner at the end of a dance. Take time to thank them and calmly find another. (Warning: this is hard to do in some dance communities.)
7. Don’t look at the floor. Eye contact is an important part of country dancing.
8. Ask experienced dancers to ddance with you; they’ll help point you in the right direction if you get confused.
9. Sweating is natural and healthy, and there’s a lot of it at dances. Dress coolly, bring a towel (or extra shirt) if you wish, and take breaks in the cool air outside.
10. After you have some dance experience and know what you’re doing, beginners will need your help. Remember the first rule: relax.

A Poem for Experienced Dancers
Pride Goeth…

I am a Scottish Dancer–
Experienced, advanced,
I like to show less able friends
How dances should be danced.

My back is straight, my head held high,
My smile securely fixed,
I know my dances thoroughly
And never get them mixed.

I’m ready for the next eight bars,
I know just where I’m heading–
I even pass left shoulders
In the reels in Mairi’s Wedding.

I always close my feet in third
I stand just where I should–
Although I’m a modest soul,
I’m really rather good.

And now look at that dancer
Who is coming down the room
With a frown of concentration
And a general air of gloom.

Her head is poking forward,
She isn’t quite in line,
Her toes are turning upward!
Quite different from mine.

It must be fairly obvious
That she is a beginner,
Her figure’s similar to mine–
Thank heaven I am thinner.

It’s strange her dress is so like mine,
Her hair as well I see…
Oh, Lord, it is a mirror
And that reflection’s ME

Well now I know how I appear
To others in the set–
And that’s a hard, hard lesson
I’m sure I won’t forget.

Pat Batt, The Reel, London Branch