For special events, although all of the above generally holds true, there may be special customs or regional expectations.  In some cases, dances may not be briefed.  In others, even walk throughs for difficult dances may be performed.   Here are some good guides for ball etiquette with special information sections on ... .

  • General Social Dancing Rules:

    • Arrive on time whenever possible.

    • Friendliness is a part of the good manners which Scottish Country Dancing promotes. A pleasant smile, a friendly word, general mixing, and good spirits are the hallmarks of a successful evening.

  • "May I Have This Dance?":

    • An invitation to dance may be extended by either a man or a woman. It should be worded in a clear and friendly way. A friendly hand may be extended to the partner.   Lead your partner to the dance floor.

    • Also, it is more flexible and friendly to NOT to line up partners for all of the dances ahead of time.

  • Joining the Set:

    • Don't pass a set in need of a couple, or leave a set once you have joined it. (Except under the direction of the MC, in order to allow more people to dance--such as a fourth couple leaving to join two couples, making two 3-couple sets.) Stay in lines and places while sets are forming, as it is hard to count if everyone is moving about. The first couple in a set traditionally counts off the number of couples lined up in order to verify that there are enough couples for all sets.  In a ball, the couple may walk the length of the set line, counting off couples to help verify.

    • Do not form new sets until the next dance is announced by the MC. This allows for a better exchange of partners and distribution of ability in sets, which is so important for a sociable evening.

    • Do not attempt to line up partners for all of the dances ahead of time.  It is more friendly and flexible to spontaneously choose partners throughout the evening. 

    • Always join a set at the bottom, but avoid walking through the set to get there or to another set.
  • After the Dance:

    • Listen quietly during all instructions. If you have any questions, ask the instructor, not other dancers. The question may also be of interest to others.

    • At the end of every dance, you should thank your partner and clear the floor.

  • Partnering:

    • Be sure to ask a variety of partners to dance. Remember especially:

      • the person you came with

      • dancers frequently sitting out

      • women often dancing as men, or men often dancing as women

      • beginning dancers and visitors who need encouragement

      • the party MCs and class teachers, as a way of showing your appreciation for the evenings they have planned for your enjoyment

  • Dance Program:

    • Notes, cribs, and "cheat sheets" should be studied off the floor. The dance floor is a place for sociability.

    • At a party where notes have been circulated in advance, it is most courteous not to join in a set if one does not know the dance, especially if it is a more difficult one. 


The Blue Fascinator - Tim Cockburn

There are general rules of conduct (and regional variations) for Scottish Country Dancing.  Whether at a local dance or a a first ball, here's some typical things you can expect and should take into account:



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