Why Scottish Country Dancing appeals to the programmers

Are you a programmer, mathematician or like. Tried Scottish Country Dancing yet?

The rumour has it, that SCD (as taught by RSCDS) has more than its normal share of people who like structural thinking. When I started dancing (with some probing from my wife), I could not see how it would be true. I did feel that West Coast Swing - which was my favourite style before SCD - was more structured that various other Swing and latin styles, but I did not think it would be something statistically significant.

But with SCD, it does appeal more to both sides of my brain. When I just started doing the classes, it was all about just getting through the next dance and the fact that many figures were shared was helpful but not important. Now, I am starting to analyse how the figures connect and a lot of underlying logic starts to open up to my left-brain thinking.

For example, lead down (right hands join) vs. dance down (near hands joined) makes much more sense when you consider what you are leading the partner into. If the lady is going to cross ahead of the man or if you are going down to just turn inside and go back, leading down makes perfect sense. But if you are just planning to split up at the bottom or face each other again, dancing down with near hands joined is all you needs.

And if that is not convincing, trying to think in details about correct transitions between the formations nearly demands some higher mental capacity.

This of course is only important if one wants to become a performance dancer, dance deviser or dance teacher with RSCDS. Otherwise, lots of people (young and old) just show up and enjoy it as is.

But since I am now sitting the first part of the teacher’s exam, I have to think of it all. I don’t have to for the first part of the exam - which is in 3 weeks - but once I start thinking of a topic it is hard to just postpone it because it is not yet important.


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