To give you a head start, you can practice these simple dances (although they're more enjoyable and easier to practice with a group, a caller and music)

Please note that these dance instructions come from the website http://www.scottishdance.net/ceilidh/dances.html.

The Canadian or Highland Barn Dance

Formation: couples around the room facing anti-clockwise, ladies on the right.

Music: 2/4 or 4/4 pipe march (not 6/8) or scottische.

 

Bars: Description
1-2: Starting with the outside foot, walk forward for three steps and hop (or kick).
3-4: Walk backwards for three steps and hop.
5-6: Skip sideways away from your partner (men towards the centre of the room, ladies towards the edge) for two steps and clap.
7-8: Return to partner and join in ballroom (waltz) hold.
9-12: In ballroom hold, skip sideways to the man's left, lady's right for two steps then back again.
13-16: Use four step-hops to polka anti-clockwise round the room.

 

Repeat ad lib.

The Circassian Circle

Formation: Large circle round the room, ladies on the right of their partner.

Music: 32 bar Reels.

 

Bars: Description
1-4: Hands joined in a circle, all advance for four steps, retire for four steps.
5-8: Repeat.
9-12: Drop hands, ladies advance and retire.
13-16: Men advance, turn round and walk out to the next lady CW (the one who was on their left; the one who is now to the right of their partner as they view).
17-24: All spin with new partners
25-32: Hands crossed in front (right to right and left to left), ladies on the outside, promenade ACW around the room.

 

Repeat ad lib.

The Dashing White Sergeant

Formation: three facing three around the room, man between two ladies or lady between two men.

Music: The Dashing White Sergeant - 32 bar reels, starting and ending with "The Dashing White Sergeant".

 

Bars: Description
1-8: Join up in a circle of 6 and circle round to the left for 8 steps (4 bars) and back to the right.
9-12: The person in the middle turns to the person on their right and sets to them, then turns them once round right hand (variation - both hands). The other partner stands still.
13-16: Repeat with the other partner.
17-24: Using elbow grip, turn 1st partner, then 2nd partner, then 1st partner, then 2nd partner. (Variation - dance a reel of three, giving left shoulder to 1st partner to start).
25-28: In the lines of three, advance towards each other (two skip steps) and retire.
29-32: Both lines dance forwards, one line raising their hands in an arch and the other line dancing underneath, and dance on to meet the next set of three coming in the other direction.

 

Repeat with new three.

Strip the Willow

Formation:Longwise sets of 4 couples, men on the right and ladies on the left as viewed from the band. Couples number from nearest the band.

Music: 6/8 or 9/8 double jigs. E.g. "The Irish Washerwoman", "The Curlew", "The Jig of Slurs" for 6/8 and "Drops of Brandy" for 9/8.

 

Bars: Description
1-8 1st couple spin RH.
9-20 1st lady turns 2M LH, partner RH, 3M LH, partner RH, 4M LH.
21-24 Spin with partner RH to the end of the phrase.
25-36 1st man turns 4L LH, partner RH, 3L LH, partner RH, 2L LH.
37-40 Spin with partner RH to the end of the phrase.
41-52 1st lady works down men, while 1st man works down ladies, turning 2C LH, partner RH, 3C LH, partner RH, 4C LH.
53-56 Spin with partner RH to the end of the phrase.

 

Repeat ad lib.

Orcadian Strip the Willow

Formation:Couples in a long line down the room, men on the right and ladies on the left as viewed from the band. Couples number from nearest the band.

Music: 6/8 or 9/8 double jigs. E.g. "The Irish Washerwoman", "The Curlew", "The Jig of Slurs" for 6/8 and "Drops of Brandy" for 9/8.

 

Bars:

Description
1-8 1st couple spin RH.
9-... 1st couple work down the opposite line (ie of the people of the opposite sex) turning side person LH, partner RH, next side person LH, ...
When 1st couple reach the bottom, they spin to the end of the phrase, then join the side lines.

A new couple starts every 16 bars.

 

The Virginia Reel

This seems actually to be a family of similar dances - probably word-of-mouth having lead to variations. One variety is:

Formation: Longwise sets of 4 couples, men on the right and ladies on the left as viewed from the band. Couples number from nearest the band.

Music: "Hoedown" reels, e.g. "Turkey in the Straw".

Bars: Description
1-8 All advance and retire, then turn partners RH.
9-16 All advance and retire, then turn partners LH.
17-24 All advance and retire, then turn partners BH.
25-32 All advance and retire, then dance back to back with partners (do-si-do).
33-40 1st couple join both hands and side slip down the middle and back.
41-48 1st couple, followed by 2nd, 3rd and 4th couples cast off to the bottom; 1st couple make an arch and the other three couples dance up to new positions.

Finish 2,3,4,1, ready to start again.

One variation has bars 33-40 expanded - slip down to the bottom (4 bars) and strip the willow back up again (12 bars), followed by the cast and arch figure on bars 49-56. Another has two advance and retires to start, followed by the three turns and do-si-do all together in 16 bars (9-24). Another is advance and retire, turn RH, turn LH, back-to-back, followed by 33-48.

 

The Military Twostep

Formation: couples around the room facing anti-clockwise, ladies on the right.

Music: 6/8 pipe march.

Bars: Description
1-2: Lady with hand on man's shoulder, man with arm around waist, touch heel then toe of outer foot to ground twice, bouncing on the inner foot with each touch.
3-4: Walk forward for three steps then turn towards each other to face in the opposite direction.
5-8: Repeat in the opposite direction.
9-10: Facing partner and joining both hands, bounce on both feet, then kick the right foot across the body (to the left), followed by the left foot across the body (to the right).
11-12: The man raises his left hand and the lady turns underneath (dropping the other hand).
13-16: Polka around the room.

Repeat ad lib.

 

The Gay Gordons

Formation: couples around the room facing anti-clockwise, ladies on the right.

Music: 2/4 or 4/4 march. E.g. "Scotland the Brave", "The Gay Gordons".

Bars: Description
1-2: Right hands joined over lady's shoulder (man's arm behind her back) and left hands joined in front, walk forward for four steps, starting on the right foot.
3-4: Still moving in the same direction, and without letting go, pivot on the spot (so left hand is behind lady and right hand is in front) and take four steps backwards.
5-8: Repeat in the opposite direction.
9-12: Drop left hands, raise right hands above lady's head. Lady pivots on the spot. (The man may set).
13-16: Joining hands in ballroom hold, polka round the room.

Repeat ad lib.

For scottish country dancers, the grip in the first eight bars is allemande hold.

 

The St. Bernard's Waltz

Formation: couples around the room in ballroom hold heading anti-clockwise, ladies on the outside.

Music: waltzes.

Bars: Description
1-4: In ballroom hold, take three steps sideways towards the lady's right, man's left, then stamp both feet.
5-6: Take two steps sideways in the opposite direction.
7-8: Take two steps towards the centre of the room (lady heading forwards with right foot then left foot, man backwards with left foot then right).
9-10: Take two steps back out (same feet).
11-12: Lady turns about on the spot under the joined hands.
13-16: Waltz onwards round the room.

Repeat ad lib.

 

 

The Eightsome Reel

Formation: four couples arranged around a square, lady on the right of the man. Couple with their backs to the music are couple number 1, couple on their left number 2, couple opposite number 3 and couple on the right number 4 (ie numbering clockwise).

Music: Lively reels, played 40 bars for the first time through, plus 8 lots of 48-bar repetitions (phrased 24+24), plus a final 40 bars. So that's 464 bars: 40 + 8x48 + 40. "The Deil Amang the Tailors" is commonly used for the first and last 40 bars; other tunes often used include "Soldier's Joy", "Mrs MacLeod of Raasay", "The Fairy Dance", "The Mason's Apron".

Bars: Description
Chorus:  
1-8: All join hands in a circle and circle round to the left for 8 steps (four bars) and back.
9-12: Ladies join right hands in the middle, and hold partners around waist, and all dance right hands across in a star (wheel).
13-16: Swing round (couples still holding around the waist) so the men join left hands, and dance back with a left hand star.
17-20: Face partners and set twice.
21-24: Spin partners (turn RH).
25-40: Giving right hands to partner to start, dance a grand chain around the set (keep going in the same direction and give right hand, then left hand, then right hand, ... until you get back to place). If you get back early, spin until the end of the phrase.
Figure - repeat 8 times  
1-8: 1st lady goes into the centre of the set and sets while the others circle round to the left and back.
9-16: 1st lady sets to partner, turns him, sets to opposite man and turns him.
17-24: 1st lady turns partner, opposite man, partner, opposite man (variation - dance a reel of three with partner and opposite man, giving left shoulder to partner to start).
25-32: Repeat bars 1-8.
33-48: Repeat bars 9-24 with side men.
              Repeat Figure with 2nd lady, 3rd lady, 4th lady, 1st man, 2nd man, 3rd man, 4th man in the centre.  
Chorus: Repeat the 40 bars of the start of the dance.

 

 

The Flying Scotsman

There are several versions of this, but one common one is:

Formation: Longwise sets of 4 couples, men on the right and ladies on the left as viewed from the band. Couples number from nearest the band.

Music: 32-bar Reels, either 4x32 or 8x32 - Freeland Barbour wrote "Duncan's Return" for it, but I don't think it's official.

Bars: Description
1-8 1st lady, followed by 2nd and 3rd ladies, dances across the top of the set, behind 1st man, in front of 2nd man, behind 3rd man and across the bottom and back to place.
9-16 1st 3 men repeat around the ladies.
17-24 1st couple join both hands and side-slip (gallop) down the room for 8 slip-steps (4 bars), then back up again TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SET (4th place).
25-32 All join hands on the sides and sideslip down the room and back up again.

Finish in the order 2, 3, 4, 1, ready to start again.