Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary


A Lady is a Dancer, usually but not necessarily a female person, performing the female role in a dance. This is the common and acceptable usage though the RSCDS prefers the term, Woman, for consistency with Man. In Ballroom Dancing, the usual terms are Lady and Gentleman; these are also etymologically consistent but in Scottish Country Dancing this usage has never become acceptable.

Like all social dancing, Scottish Country Dancing was originally not only an enjoyable activity in its own right but also a major opportunity for young males and females to size each other up. It's a sad fact that many young males were only spurred on to participate at all by the competition for the females; once they had found long-term partners, many simply gave up whereas most females continued to enjoy dancing for its own sake. The outcome is that most Scottish Country Dancing groups have a predominance of female members, many of whom have to spend much of their time dancing as Men. In an all male environment, such as the prisoner-of-war camp where The Reel of the 51st Division was devised, every Lady's Place had to be danced by a male.

Having females dancing as Men is well established everywhere, even at a formal Ball; in a teaching environment, they should wear an identifying band. Where a group or event does not include enough males to fill the Men's roles, it would be a crime if that were to leave disappointed wallflowers; far better to have everyone on the floor who wants to dance.

The situation with males dancing as Ladies is much rarer; the MC or teacher must recognize that many less experienced dancers may be confused on finding a male dancing as a Lady in the same Set and a few experienced dancers may be upset. Scottish Country Dancing is mostly unisex in the sense that there are not many situations which specifically imply a female for the Lady's part and so it should not be too strange to have a few males dancing as Ladies; the main potential problems are with some Hand positions, Precedence, Corners, Allemande and Promenade, especially when the Dancers involved are not Partners.

Links To Pages Related To 'Dancers'

Set Structure

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