Scottish country dancing comes in three styles; RSCDS, Reeling and Ceilidh.  The dancing is basically the same, but the three styles do differ in a number of ways:

  • RSCDS
    This is the official style of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society which was set up in 1923 to preserve the traditional dances of Scotland. 

    It is the most commonly performed style, and is promoted by the RSCDS through publications, residential summer and winter schools, a worldwide network of branches, classes and certified dance teachers.

    It is also the most refined and elaborate of the three styles.  Dancers who have been to a course of RSCDS lessons will have received a good grounding in the formations and timing of the dances so that they can dance elegantly and well.

    The RSCDS publishes a huge range of dances, and a typical RSCDS group will do 100 or more different dances in a season.  

    For more information see the RSCDS web site.

  • Reeling
    This is the traditional style which predates the formation of the RSCDS and has been practised at Highland Balls and other events for many years. 

    Reeling is rather less formal than the RSCDS style and is generally learnt by joining a reeling group and watching what everyone else does.

    It is also rather more rumbustious and physical with a lot of clapping, stamping and twirling of partners.

    Reeling groups do a very limited range of dances (about nine in all, all of which are listed below).  This makes it easer for newcomers and people who only dance occasionally to learn them and join in.

    For reeling groups in London, click here.

  • Ceilidh
    Ceilidh ('kay-lee') dancing is the simplest style - it has been practised at public dances, weddings and other events throughout Scotland for many years and is very popular. 

    At a ceilidh, only a very small number of simple dances are performed and they are all walked though and called.  This means that anyone can join in even if they have never done Scottish country dancing before in their life.

    Ceilidhs usually attract a lot of people who are new to dancing so they can be quite rough-and-ready affairs with no pretensions to elegant dancing.  They are a particularly good place to take a party for a birthday or other celebration.

    In London, ceilidhs are run regularly by the Ceilidh Club.  (Note that the Ceilidh Club is a commercial venture and its entrance charge of £18.15 is about twice that of most other forms of Scottish country dancing).

Wimbledon Reels tries to combine some of the best elements of all three styles.  Most of our members have been to RSCDS classes and also do both reeling and ceilidh dancing from time to time.

Just like at a ceilidh, all our dances are are walked though and called to help beginners and occasional visitors join in.

Our range of dances is smaller than a typical RSCDS group would do. It is deliberately limited so that our members become familiar with all the dances and can relax and dance easily without the fear of getting them wrong. It also makes it easier for new members to learn.

We do all nine dances that are regularly performed by reeling groups:

The Dashing White Sergeant
The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh
The Duke of Perth
The Eightsome Reel
The Foursome Reel
Hamilton House
Inverness Country Dance (Speed the Plough)
Mairi's Wedding
The Reel of the 51st Division

In addition, we do another 26 dances which have been selected because they are relatively well-known and are frequently performed elsewhere:

The Belle of Bon Accord
The Black Mountain Reel
The Blooms of Bon Accord
Butterscotch and Honey
The Duke of Atholl's Reel
The Highland Rambler
J B Milne
McDonald of the Isles
The Machine Without Horses
The Montgomeries' Rant
Monymusk
Napier's Index
Pelorus Jack
The Piper and the Penguin
Postie's Jig
The Reel of the Royal Scots
The Robertsons'  Rant
Round Reel of Eight
The Sailor
Seann Truibhas Willichan
Seton's Ceilidh Band
Shiftin' Bobbins
A Trip to Bavaria
West's Hornpipe
The White Heather Jig
The Wind on Loch Fyne

A crib booklet of all our core and easy dances can be found

A crib booklet of all our core and easy dances can be found here.

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