Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Room Capacity

The Room capacity for Scottish Country Dancing on a floor of a given size is calculated using the Size of the set to determine how many Sets can be accommodated in the space available and the number of Dancers in each.

In Longwise sets with comfortable spacing for most dances, the adjacent Dancers in the Side lines will be about 1yd (90cm) apart and the Partners about 2yd (1.8m). The spacing between The sets across the room should also be about 2yd (1.8m).

Diagram, Room Capacity for Scottish Country Dancing

Room Capacity with Couples in Longwise Sets

The diagram shows a rectangular floor (16yd (14.4m) wide by 17yd (15.3m) long) with Couples disposed as for Longwise sets:
the leftmost line (A) shows the unnumbered Couples having just come onto the floor at the announcement of the dance;
the next line shows them Made up in four Sets (B1-B4), each of four Couples;
the next line shows them Made up in five Sets (C1-C5), each of three Couples;
the rightmost line shows them Made up in three Sets (D1-D3), each of five Couples.

Obviously, the diagram illustrates the situation at different times; for a real dance, the lines of Couples would all be as in line A soon after the announcement of the dance; after counting by the Top man in each line, they would all be as in line B for 4 Couple sets or as in line C for 3 Couple sets or as in line D for 5 Couple sets and similarly for 6 Couple sets and 7 Couple sets.

This layout shows the minimum floor size (16yd (14.4m) wide by 17yd (15.3m) long) which will just accommodate four lines of four 4 Couple sets with the recommended spacing; i.e., 128 Dancers in all. When, as here, The sets are of a size which fits the floor layout perfectly, each Dancer requires a little over 2 square yards. For 3 Couple sets, there can be only five Sets in each line on a floor of these dimensions and, for 5 Couple sets, only three, i.e., only 120 Dancers with these formats; for the much rarer 6 Couple sets, there can be only 96 Dancers and, for 7 Couple sets, 112.

A small increase in width or length of the floor space allows a little extra space between adjacent Sets but makes no difference to the number of Dancers which can be accommodated. The width must increase by 4yd to allow an extra line of Sets and the length by 4yd to allow an extra Set in each line; as a corollary, reducing the width by a small amount loses a complete line of Sets and reducing the length by a small amount loses a complete row.

Since the vast majority of dances in any programme will be for four Couples in Longwise sets, it is sensible to concentrate on these when calculating the capacity of a given floor area. The following table with Length and Width in yards (~90cm) gives details of some example optimum sizes:

Length      Width      Sets      Dancers
17  41x4  32
17  82x4  64
17123x4  96
13123x3  72
  9123x2  48
  5123x1  24

The next table can be used to determine the number of Dancers which can be accommodated on a rectangular floor of a given length and width (both in yards). If the exact length is shown, work along that row; if not, choose the row above. If the exact width is shown work down that column; if not, choose the column to the left. The number of Dancers which the floor can accommodate will be at the intersection of this row and this column. For example, a floor 15yd square could accommodate 72 Dancers in 4 Couple sets.

Width      4      8    12    16    20    24
    5      8    16    24    32    40    48
    9    16    32    48    64    80    96
  13    24    48    72    96  120  144
  17    32    64    96  128  160  192
  21    40    80  120  160  200  240
  25    48    96  144  192  240  288
Length  ▲

A detailed analysis for the rarer Types of set would produce a similar result for all but the smallest of rooms. As the diagram indicates, Longwise sets of 3 Couples and 5 Couples fit almost as well into the lines as do 4 Couple sets and for some room lengths will actually be better. The Square set maps quite well onto a 4 Couple, Longwise, set in its share of the space between Sets and similarly, the Triangular set onto a 3 Couple, Longwise, set and so these need no special attention. Most Round the room sets and Large circular sets can be danced in concentric Sets if need be in order to make the best use of a large hall.

Although many will remember ballrooms of the mid-20th century in which the Dancers were almost shoulder to shoulder in the Sidelines, the above analysis applies to a modern Scottish Country Dance event where the space available should be at least the minimum to allow comfortable dancing. However, this does mean that, at a sacrifice of some comfort and with a preparedness of the Standing Dancers to move apart to allow Dancers to Travel between them, a slightly smaller width or length of floor can accommodate the number appropriate to the next larger size in the table.

The analysis is also appropriate to a Scottish Country Dance event where one would expect that, except perhaps for a handful of spectators who have some disability, all will wish to be on the floor in at least the first few dances on the programme. However, at a Wedding Ceilidh or some such, many, or even most, of the assembled company may have no intention to dance; it is important for the organizer to make a good estimate of this fraction for his/her event.

Finally, these space requirements are for the dancing, only; additional space will be required for musicians and their equipment, seating, with tables if necessary, and for any circulatory activities by non-dancing attendees which must not be allowed to encroach on the area where the dancing is in progress.

Links To Pages Related To 'Room Capacity'

Types Of Sets

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