The Scottish Country Dancing community owes a great debt to Charles Upton; over the years, he compiled more than 4500 dances into a consistent format, MiniCrib.
Before his database became available, there was no consistent, readily available set of dance instructions for most of the dances being regularly performed. RSCDS publications were consistent in style but covered fewer than 1000 dances. Availability of publications containing authoritative descriptions of even the most popular devisers' dances was haphazard in the extreme. The typical compiler of a dance programme usually had recourse only to dance cribs produced by other compilers for their own events. The lack of style consistency, copyright issues and difficulty in finding dances made dance programme planning a great chore.
Using MiniCrib it is far simpler to choose dances to fit the expertise of the available dancers and to organise the right types of dance throughout a programme.
Rarely does one now encounter a dance that is not included in MiniCrib. Charles Upton constantly added new dances and updated his existing collection and still somehow found time to devise dances of his own! A task like his can never be complete and so the Scottish Country Dancing community must be grateful to his successors (the MiniCrib team) for picking up the baton.
It was with great sadness that we heard of his death on 4 November 2015 following his long battle with the illness which had forced him to retire from his self-imposed, but immensely public-spirited, task. He will be mourned not only by those who knew him personally but also by the world-wide community of Scottish Country Dancers.
See also the tribute dance Charles Upton's Obsession by Ann and Ian Jamieson.