Royal Scottish Country Dance Society celebrates its 100th birthday

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The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is celebrating its 100th birthday.

It has been marking the milestone in style. Scottish country dancing has a worldwide appeal with the society having 150 branches in more than 50 different countries.

The societies members live right across the globe. This year’s chairman has a link closer to home. William Williamson lives near Dumfries and has been sharing the history behind the society.

William Williamson said: "Scottish country dancing is a group of people getting together on a dance floor and dancing to the wonderful music of Scotland - the jigs and the reels.

"Some of these tunes are very old, they go back to the 1700s. We are still dancing to music Robert Burns would have danced to.

"Robert Burns learned Scottish country dancing up in Ayrshire as a young teenager. Maybe that is because that is where the girls were and that is where they met. Everybody danced in Scotland."

The society has members in its branches throughout the world. Credit: ITV

Things then became more organised in 1923. Then a Mrs Stewart wrote to a Glasgow publisher asking why she couldn’t find books on Scottish dances. And so the society was born.

Back then things were more formal but now members can choose to dress down.

William added: “It may have been in the early days things were taken a lot more seriously but now people just come onto the dance floor and really enjoy themselves.

"You can take dancing to whatever level you want. You can come with friends and just enjoy their company or you will want to be a dancer who will go and do demonstrations to show people how to do it. There are people who love the technique of refining the steps.

“It is not competitive. It is Scotland’s social dancing. Highland dancing is very much a solo competition piece of work, Scottish country dancing is a group of people getting together to enjoy maybe 20 dances in an evening and you know when you have had a workout.

William explains where his love for Scottish country dancing was born, he said: “Going to family weddings and gatherings and aunties, uncles or neighbours would get you onto the floor as a small toddler and get you through a dashing white sergeant.

"I have danced ever since. It is a wonderful community. It is an amazing way to keep fit, not only physically but mentally. It is the complete health package. It brings people together and you make lifelong friends."

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