Scottish Country & Highland Dance In Sussex

Scottish Country Dancing and Scottish Highland Dancing are two distinct types of dance - the former being social and carried out for recreational purposes whilst the latter is a solo, performance and competition style. With the exception of some Highland dance classes (including some for children) run by the Brighton Branch of the RSCDS, all the clubs are of the recreational Country Dance variety. Also included are the Caledonian Societies whose main aims are social and cultural but they can provide the occassional opportunity for Scottish Country Dancing as part of one of their events.

Sussex Association of Scottish Societies

A co-ordinating body for the county.

Club Name


Aldrington Scottish Country Dance Group

Hove, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex

Ashdown Scottish Country Dance Club

Crowborough, Wealden, East Sussex

Bexhill & District Scottish Society

Bexhill-On-Sea, Rother, East Sussex

Bognor Regis Scottish Country Dance Club

Bognor Regis, Arun, West Sussex

Brighton & Hove Scottish Country Dance Club

Brighton, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex

Brighton Branch of the RSCDS
(classes of Country or Highland)

Patcham, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex
Lewes, East Sussex

Crawley Scottish Country Dancing Club

Crawley, Crawley, West Sussex

East Grinstead Scottish Country Dance Society

East Grinstead, Mid Sussex, W Sussex

Eastbourne Scottish Country Dance Club

Eastbourne, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Glen Grant Scottish Dance Group

Chichester, Chichester, West Sussex

Glen Mor SCD Group - Closed

Worthing, Arun, West Sussex

Hastings Scottish Country Dance Club

St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, E Sussex

Horsham Scottish Country Dancing Club

Roffey, Horsham, West Sussex

Mid Sussex Caledonian Society

Cuckfield, Mid Sussex, West Sussex

Mid Sussex Scottish Dancing Group

Hurstpierpoint, Mid Sussex, W Sussex

Rogate Scottish Dancers

Rogate, Chichester, West Sussex

Royal Scottish Country Dancing

East Preston, Arun, West Sussex

St Andrew's Reel Club

Rustington, Arun, West Sussex

Sussex Fun Dancing Club

Uckfield, East Sussex

Scottish Country Dance Basics

Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) involves groups of mixed couples tracing progressive patterns following a predefined choreography. Couples are grouped into sets of 3 to 5 couples either in two lines or in a square. The dance sequence results in a new order of couples and the sequence is repeated enough times for each person to dance each position until they end up in the same position they had when they started. Normally each dance is run through or taught beforehand and there is no caller. It is a living tradition in that while there were around one thousand dances collected at the 1920s, since then around 10,000 new dances have been created.

Scottish country dances are divided into reels, jigs, and strathspeys. Reels and jigs are quick-time dances with fast tempos, quick movements and a lively feel. The strathspey is slower and stately. Scottish country dancing calls for more footwork than English, having a greater variety of steps. These include travelling steps (such as the skip-change and the Strathspey travelling step) and setting steps (such as the pas de basque and Strathspey setting step). Highland dance setting steps, such as the rocking step, high cuts, or Highland schottische may also occur. There is also the slip step for quick sideways movement in circles.

As with all set dance styles, the most important aspect is being in the right place at the right time and getting there without impeding others and staying in time with the music. It is also very much a social dance, so interacting with the people one meets is encouraged and this can help beginners to maintain an even speed in the right direction. It is very much a team effort with the ideal being formations executing sequences perfectly in unison to achieve the perfect pattern. Sets of matched couples can vary in how far they travel to execute the dance but achieving the ideal is still the over-riding aim. Thus the same dances can be attempted by different ages provided all the couples in each group dances at the same level of energy.

Scottish Highland Dance Basics

Scottish highland dance is nowadays a style of solo dancing regarded as a sport rather than a social pastime, and is usually danced in competition and displays. Scottish country dances can include highland elements and highland-style performance dances can use formations seen in country dances, but other than that the styles do not really have a lot in common. It evolved during the 19th and 20th centuries through public events such as Highland games. (Irish dancing is similarly divided between the social dances (céilí and set dancing) and the competative and performance stepdancing.

Sussex Folk Association: Scottish Country & Highland Dance in Sussex

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