Scottish Country Dancing Basics

Scottish country dances are made up of steps and formations (patterns formed by a group of dancers dancing together)

The following Youtube clips from the Lower Hutt Club show some basic steps and formations – from which MANY dances can be danced.

Just watch and enjoy.  If you would like some notes about what you are are have been watching,  scroll down below the videos.


Our thanks to the Lower Hutt Scottish Country Dancing Club for not only producing videos but for sharing them with the world.


Basic Steps

Skip Change

Pas de Basque

Simple Formations

Lead Down the Middle

Hands Across


Rights and Lefts

Reels of Three



These clips show steps and simple formations that make up many of our dances.

The first two clips show two of the basic steps:

  • Skip change of step – used to travel
  • Pas de basque or setting step (often danced on the spot or with limited travelling)

The clips of formations show quick-time and strathspey dancing.  Strathspey is a rhythm of dancing unique to Scotland. The formations or patterns in the clips are:

  • Leading down the middle and up (in a set or group of dancers)
  • Hands across and back (which forms the pattern of the St Andrew’s Cross found on the Scottish flag)
  • Back to back – also found in other forms of dancing where it is often described as do-si-do
  • Rights and lefts in which four dancers collectively dance a square formation (watch one dancer on their own and they dance around a square)
  • Reel of three – three dancers dance a figure of eight at the same time. Each dancers always dances between the other two people.
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