- Do I need a specific partner
No, you don't need a specific partner. Just a desire to get some good physical and mental exercise while listening to great music and having fun. We change partners for each dance and you certainly won't be left sitting on the sidelines - nearly all Scottish country dances need at least six people to dance together.
- Is it physically demanding
Yes, it can be. Like most types of dancing, Scottish country dancing can be quite a workout. Some dances are more energetic than others. We encourage warming up before class and stretching afterwards. Dancing will improve your balance, and maintain mental and aerobic fitness. (See health video)
- Do you need special shoes
No, not at first. Most dancers now wear soft leather ‘ghillies' or pumps designed specifically for Scottish country dancing, but the beginner should wear any comfortable shoes with a soft non-slip sole e.g. jazz or ballet shoes, or 'trainers'. Be prepared to dance in socks if wearing heavy street shoes (to protect others' feet)!
- Is it a long time before I can go to a dance
No, there is an emphasis on steps and the formations may be unknown but the basic technique can be learned at a week-end workshop or through a couple of months' worth of practice evenings, once a week. We run beginners classes, well worth trying.
- Must I learn dances by heart
No, many dancers find it difficult to learn them all by heart, best to know the steps and formations. The programmes for social evenings are published well before the event, so everybody can check the crib sheets and revise the dances. Also, at the event itself dances are usually recapped or even sometimes walked through before the music starts.
- How many dances are there
There are approximately 15,000 published dances devised by Scots, English, Australians, Canadians, Americans, New Zealanders, Japanese etc. etc. all following the original traditions with an aim to give enjoyment and energy and keep the brain alive and fresh. The most popular rhythms are jig, reel and strathspey. Jigs and reels use basically the same three different steps and strathspeys use two. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has published over 50 books of dances and there are many more that are not in a numbered 'Book'. The Glasgow Branch published a Book for each of their 60th, 85th and 90th Anniversaries. The 90th book has an accompanying CD of the music.
- Do I have to wear a kilt
No, men who are used to wearing the kilt find it comfortable for dancing, but many men dance in trousers for several years before investing in a kilt. Women only need to wear clothes in which they can move easily. For dances and balls, which are usually semi-formal, men often wear a kilt or tartan trews and women wear dress.