Celebrating 20 years of the International Branch: 2004—2024
The most frequent dances on dance programmes


(as at 31 December 2022)

My name is Campbell Tyler. I have been a member of the International Branch for some twelve years. After an enforced break due to covid I have been able to provide an update to these frequent dance lists for 2022. Obviously programmes from 2020 and 2021 are fairly sparse but 2022 has seen a resurgence.

I decided to start capturing dance programmes into an MS-Access database in 2008 and it now contains 3 000 programmes stretching over the period from 2008 to the end of 2022. I have received programmes from 541 (up from 496 last time) clubs and branches world-wide.

Of the 3000 programmes on the database 603 are from Scotland itself, 707 from the rest of the UK, 534 from the USA, 320 from Canada, 276 from Australia, 239 from Europe, 199 from New Zealand, 105 from South Africa, and 17 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, the type of event (ball, social, tea dance or beginner dance), which club or branch organised it and the approximate number of dancers, where known, is also recorded. For each event the programme of dances is 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.

2976 (up from 2722) dances have featured in these 3000 programmes, of which 1229 appear only once (41.3%). The most frequent dances (Pelorus Jack, Montgomeries’ Rant, Mairis Wedding, Deil Amang the Tailors and Reel of the Royal Scots) each appear on almost every sixth programme.

The lists have a rather different look this year, in that I have split the programmes into those between 2008 and 2015, and those from 2016 to the present. This enables one to see what movement there has been in recent years due to new dances being published. Below that table, for each list, I have reproduced the order of dances across all the years, as I used to, which reflects a more gradual change due to the weight of dances from the earlier years, which handicaps new dances from rising up the rankings. There is also a new list for medleys.

I have only been able to do this through the support of all those people around the world who have provided the programmes that make up this database. A special thanks to all of you, you know who you are! Covid has taken a toll of the input from this group and there is a great need for new contributors, otherwise the ability of the lists to track global trends is lost and I will need to bring this activity to a close. Please feel free to write to me to send programmes, ask questions, point out errors, or just to say hello. My email address is campbell@tyler.co.za and I live in Cape Town, South Africa.

The lists you will find on the site currently are: (NB — Apart from List 1, alphabetical order is used to split tied entries.)

  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). The hegemony of the top 10 remains, although Scott Meikle is knocking at the door. But the recent list shows that City of Belfast is climbing very fast and a batch of new dances headed by Miss Eleanor is making waves.
  2. The 200 most frequent dances in programmes from Scotland
  3. The 250 most frequent dances in programmes from the United Kingdom excluding Scotland
  4. The 175 most frequent dances in programmes from the USA
  5. The 100 most frequent dances in programmes from Australia
  6. The 75 most frequent dances in programmes from Europe excluding Great Britain
  7. The 100 most frequent dances in programmes from Canada
  8. The 100 most frequent dances in programmes from New Zealand
  9. The 40 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.
    This shows how specific dances are either neglected or super-popular in one region compared to other regions.
  11. The 200 most frequent reels across all regions
  12. The 200 most frequent jigs across all regions
  13. The 200 most frequent strathpeys across all regions
  14. The 15 most frequent medleys across all regions
  15. Dances that appear most often in the specific positions on the programme
    This was created so that programme compilers could look for appropriate dances for key positions in the programme. The one 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 30% of the programmes I have received. So more than every fourth programme has one of Mairi’s Wedding (top with 318 occurrences), De'il Amang the Tailors (300) and Reel of the Royal Scots (278) as the last dance of the evening. Add Reel of the 51st and The Montgomeries' Rant to that and we are up to 40%. Hooper’s Jig with 140 occurrences stands out at the top of the list of dances chosen to start off programmes, although EH3 7AF is very close to overtaking it. The “before the break” dance of choice is The Montgomeries' Rant and “after the break” it is Pelorus Jack, while Shiftin' Bobbins is the most frequent “extra”.
  16. Most frequent dances by weighting
    This is an alternative to List 1 and puts more importance on recent programmes, whilst still considering not discarding older programmes. List 15 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. So in this list programmes from 2018 have only 20% of the weighting of those from 2022. What this list reveals, which List 1 doesn’t, is that on this basis four recent dances are proving hugely popular – Trip to Timber Ridge, Farewell to Balfour Road, The Aviator and Triple Happiness.
  17. Most frequent dances from Beginner Events
    This is the third appearance of List 17 and shows which dances appear on programmes of events that seem to be geared towards new dancers. I have 106 events which are classified beginner friendly (mainly due to “Nice and Easy” or similar words in the event name or the contributor denoting it as “beginner”). Hopefully this will encourage people to contribute programmes from such events. This is still a very volatile list. Some of the dances that appear in this list are not what one would classify as easy, but beginner dances often include dances that will attract more experienced dancers to make up the numbers. These are also likely to drop out over time.

I hope you find these lists interesting and helpful. Unless I am able to get back to having a wider spread of contributors this might be my swansong. Any offers to take over?

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