Where can I find Scottish Country Dancing

An obvious starting point is the the RSCDS, the umbrella society for Scottish Country Dancing. It's also a start, and they have comprehensive contacts for all branches in the world, including web sites for those branches which have them. But addresses are very dry, so we keep looking.

We reach Anselm Lingnau's Strathspey web site,. This site was probably the first major web site for SCD, and is the home page of the Strathspey mailing list, including a comprehensive archive of postings to that list. More on this later. Anselm also has links to other interesting pages.

Among these is Alan Paterson's DanceData database. He has combined various dance indexes and produced a database program which allows you to find all the details on each dance, find all the dances devised by a certain person/in a certain book/with a given tune/containing certain formations/... So you could do a search for all 3-couple jigs devised by Roy Goldring which contain reels of four (there are three). Or you could ask who devised The Mercat Cross ... and find there are four dances by that name. Or... You can either download the program from Alan's web site or go to the Strathspey web site and use Anselm's web front-end. If you want to know which tune goes to a dance (or vice versa), you can also ask Peter Hastings' index, hosted on Strathspey.

Now we're talking. And there's plenty more. Say you're going travelling and you want to know if you can get your fix of dancing while your there: try the Grand Chain web site. It has a section for groups around the world. If you're going to stay in Europe, you could do worse than check out the Celtic Circle. Or if you're going to North America, the Inter-City Scot might be what you're after. Another option is to check out one of the events pages. As well as Grand Chain's events you can try the Inter-City Scot again, or John Sturrock's list of events in Scotland.

If you want a band for a dance or a ceilidh, try Grand Chain again - this time the bands page. Looking to stock up your dance books? Try the RSCDS Leeds Branch Shop., or drop an email to John and Shirley Lanktree at TACBooks - their email is dz938@freenet.carleton.ca. If it's music you're after, try one of the music links, or the RSCDS Leeds Branch Shop may also be able to help, or you can drop an email to TACSound - TACSound@tac-rscds.org - or to Jan Tappan at Fiddler's Crossing - fiddlers@earthlink.net.

Okay, we've found where to get dance books, but what about dance instructions on the web? They ar harder to come by. Don't expect to find standard dances - as well as breaking copyright, the online dance community felt this would discourage people from publishing on paper, and hence discriminate against those who don't have access to the web - but there are a few groups who are starting to publish new dances on the web. Oberdan Otto has an index, and there is also a list of such collections on the Grand Chain web site. Grand Chain also has some of the more common ceilidh dances on the site.

What else is there? Past RSCDS teacher's exam questions, collected by Bob Blair and his wife, and questions for the preliminary. Strathspey and Grand Chain both have assorted pages of hints and tips, and Grand Chain also branches into highland dance. They also have lots of links to other pages, in Strathspey's case, here, and in Grand Chain here.

But enough of static information - how about meeting some of the other dancers on the web? You want a mailing list. These provide a central email address which people can use to contact everyone on the list - all mail sent to that address is forwarded to all the list members, who can then reply (to everyone). Different lists have different characters, from dry lists which just contain announcements to lively discussion groups which ramble about from topic to topic; the list is whatever its members make it.

The Strathspey list is anything but quiet. This is the mailing list if you want to ask questions of / share views with Scottish country dancers all around the world. Topics covered lately have included warm-ups, slip-stop, SCD-related number-plates (no-one has yet spotted R 5 CDS, but there was an RSCDS in the US, as well as 8X32R, and many others), and terms which can be used for common dancing figures where there is no standard term (fishhooks and butterflies were among the more picturesque options proposed). If you want to know exactly where to be on bar 18� in the dance Glowerin' O'er a Dyke, ask on Strathspey, and you'll get half a dozen conflicting answers. If that's not you, join anyway and skip to the interesting mails. To join, send an email to strathspey-subscribe@strathspey.org. If you want to see what has been discussed previously, go to the Strathspey web site where there is a searchable archive.

Other mailing lists cover highland and Scottish step dance, Scottish music and culture, the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival, Irish tradition, ... More details are on Grand Chain.

So there you go - a whistle-stop tour of the Internet as it pertains to a Scottish Country Dancer. If you lose yourself, the Grand Chain site has links to all these sites. Or drop me an email at ian@scottishdance.net and I'll try to point you in the right direction.

Ian Brockbank,
May, 2000.

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Last updated 6-08-04 .

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Edinburgh, Scotland