(as at 31 July 2015, when I had captured 1750 programmes, next update 31 December 2015)  


These lists have been compiled from a database of dance programmes that are submitted to me by contributors from all over the world.  I have been recording programmes from events held since 1 January 2008 and there are now 1750 programmes on the database.  There are 360 from Scotland itself, 470 from the rest of the UK, 252 from the USA, 181 from Europe, 177 from Australia, 121 from Canada, 113 from New Zealand, 61 from South Africa, and 15 from Japan. 

The programmes are classified by country, province (or state, county or whatever is appropriate to the country) and town.  The date of the event, which club or branch organised it and the approximate number of dancers is also recorded.  Each dance can have the following information recorded on it (although this work is still in progress) – its category (reel, strathspey, jig, medley, hornpipe, other), its type (number of bars, repetitions, couples, shape), the devisor, and in which collection it is published.  

For each event the dances that were featured on the programme are recorded, as well as which one was First, which one was Last, which was Before a break (if a break is indicated), which was After a break and finally which were down as Extras.

This is an appropriate point at which to thank those people around the world who have provided the programmes that make up this database.  I have now received programmes from 439 (up from 401 last time) clubs and branches world-wide since I started collecting programmes in 2008.  It has been suggested that I just access websites and take programmes from there.  This involves such a lot of dead ends and wasted web-surfing that it is really not viable.  Getting emails from people who are prepared to take the time to send me the programme of the dance they have just attended or ones in their area is how I build my database.  There are some digests that give the programmes for a particular area and these too are useful.  Special mention must be made of Canada, which has a particularly dedicated group of people sending me programmes.  Thank you!

2232 (up from 2037) dances have featured in these 1750 programmes, of which 913 appear only once, 1008 more than twice. The most frequent dance (Montgomeries Rant) appears on every fifth programme.  

Please feel free to write to me to suggest additions, to ask questions, to point out errors, to provide programmes, or just to say hello.  My email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I live in Cape Town, South Africa.  I have been a member of the International Branch for seven years now.

The lists you will find on the site currently are:

  1. The 500 most frequent dances in all the programmes recorded (note that where the dances have the same frequency, then they are listed alphabetically, apart from the first 100 where, if there is an equal number of frequencies then the dance that reached that frequency first is listed first).  This is a pretty stable list these days, with the top 6 dances way out on their own and unchanged in order.  Kendall’s Hornpipe (after a brief stay) is the only dance to have dropped out of the top 100 and has been replaced by City of Belfast which has already reached 89. 
  2. The 200 (actually 192 as a convenient cut-off) most frequent dances in programmes from Scotland (the note above does not apply to this or other lists, where alphabetical order is used to split tied entries)
  3. The 200 most frequent dances in programmes from Great Britain excluding Scotland
  4. The 150 most frequent dances in programmes from the USA
  5. The 100 most frequent dances in programmes from Australia
  6. The 100 most frequent dances in programmes from Europe (excluding Great Britain )
  7. The 50 most frequent dances in programmes from Canada
  8. The 50 most frequent dances in programmes from New Zealand
  9. The 30 most frequent dances in programmes from South Africa
  10. The regional variation of the dances that appear in the top 10 of at least one region
  11. The 200 most frequent reels in programmes
  12. The 175 most frequent jigs in programmes
  13. The 160 most frequent strathpeys in programmes
  14. Dances that appear most often in the specific positions on the programme$
  15. Most frequent dances by weighting*

$ List 14 was created in response to a request that the information be recorded so that programme compilers could have a resource to suggest appropriate dances for key positions in the programme.  The position that has come up with the most interesting result is the last dance on the programme.  Astonishingly, THREE dances between them occupy this position on a quarter of the programmes I have received.  So every fourth programme has one of Mairi’s Wedding (top with 174 occurrences), Deil Amang The Tailors and Reel of the Royal Scots as the last dance of the evening.  Hooper’s Jig with 78 occurrences stands out at the top of the list of dances chosen to start off programmes.  The “before the break” dance of choice is Montgomeries Rant and “after the break”it is Pelorus Jack, while Shiftin Bobbins is the most frequent “extra”.

*List 15 is compiled to counteract the “deadweight” nature of the sheer bulk of programmes dating from early on which tends to work against more recent dances that have only appeared in the last few years in List 1.  So this list is compiled taking into account the date of the programme and the number of dancers attending.  Dances appearing on a recent programme with many dancers attending score higher than dances appearing on an old programme with fewer dancers.  In this list programmes from 2008 and 2009 are excluded and those from 2010 have only 10% of the weighting of those from 2015. (So for instance City of Belfast is 89 on List 1, but 17 on this list.)

*In List 15 I have shown the relative rankings of the dances in brackets where they appeared seven months ago.   In the last seven months Best Set in the Hall has broken into the top 10 at the expense of Reel of the 51st Division.  City of Belfast, Rodney’s Rant and Welcome to Ayr are the biggest % upward movers, whilst Wild Geese and Piper and the Penguin have dropped the most.  Of the 8 new entrants last time 4, Granville Market, Gardener’s Fantasia, Round Reel of 8 and Mrs Macpherson of Inveran, stayed on.  Newcomers this time (previous position in brackets) are Autumn in Appin (115), Bill Clement MBE (156), Duchess Tree (116), Flight of the Falcon (125), Light and Airy (106), Linnea’s Strathspey (109), Never at Sea (157), Rodney’s Rant (188), St Columba’s Strathspey (147), Welcome to Ayr (347) and Whistling Wind (223).


Additional information