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What is Sequence Dancing?

Modern Sequence Dancing is a very popular form of social dancing in the UK and abroad.  It is based on the normal Ballroom and Latin dancing but everyone dances the same standardised 16 bar sequences at the same time making this an interesting and pleasurable activity, particularly amongst the retired people.  It is great way to make new friends and to enjoy a healthy life.

couple dancingThis form of dancing became popular in the 1950’s and onwards, although it is mainly a UK form of dancing, it is also popular in Australia, New Zealand as well as Canada.   There are also outposts in the places where the British go on holiday such as Spain, Cyprus and Malta.  As with all ballroom and latin dancing, numbers are now in decline although it is probably the most popular form of traditional ballroom dancing in the UK and most clubs have attendances of around 40 dancers.  

Sequence dancing usually takes place in Church Halls, Community Centre etc all around the UK.  Many “clubs” are run by local committees, which engage leaders to run the proceedings.   Others are run by the leaders themselves as a private venture.  No qualifications are needed although most leaders are usually qualified dancers, however many amateurs will often lead and run clubs. Ladies often dance together when there are insufficient gentlemen.   Sequence Dance holidays are also organised through many hotels both in the UK and abroad.  The Ballroom or Latin clubs may have some social sequence dances but don't usually have the up to date dances.

There is unfortunately no national organisation which represents sequence dancing or the dancers.  Every club is independent and is able to adopt its own rules and policies. Since 1950 there have been a number of small organisations which were formed to promote modern sequence dancing in their own areas including the Manchester M.C's club (1953).  These often arranged  social events  and some had their own inventive dance competitions.  Sadly almost all of these have now faded away although there are still a few  informal groups which co-operate with one another in their own area, but these are now very rare and with falling numbers of dancers, clubs tend to compete for trade.  

There is no comprehensive list of sequence dance clubs around the country and no recognised magazine or journal. Many of the dances are quite old and traditional, although the interest is maintained by new dances or routines which are introduced regularly throughout the year. 

Since about 1985 the British Dance Council and the Professional Dance Organisations have sought to regulate the inventive dance competitions and they restrict them in number and to their professional members. The professional promoters also claim "copyright" for their dances but not line dances.  However the new dance scripts are only available in the UK through the three authorised script publishers, but the publishers also have the takings from the selling of the scripts. The year 2000 with internet access had sequence dances for "free to download", but they had to be warned off by legal proceedings by the publishers!!!. .   DVD's are not normally published but in 2005 the BDC found that they were being published.  Therefore the BDC reported that "This action is a breach of copyright and procedures will be put into place by the British Dance Council if the selling of copyright DVDs is not ceased forthwith. The issuing of DVDs to clients also affects the clients who are obtaining illegal DVDs, and action against them may also be undertaken."  In the present climate the BDC seem to inhibit by "copyright" for sequence dancing, which is a great shame.

However their control only extends to their approved competitions and their own members, and not to individual clubs or other parts of the world.    However keen dancers do like to keep up with the latest dances, and as a result the same dances are usually performed at virtually all the clubs around the country.  You can therefore be sure of being able to join in a sequence dance almost anywhere in the country.

For further information,  search for "sequence dancing" on any of the search engines and ask a club near you how to get started.  There is also a book   "Learning the essential Sequence Dances" (ISBN 0-9501927-7-5) and "A History of Sequence Dancing"  (ISBN 0-9501927-4-0)  by T A Whitworth.


Dancing is really movement to music and like the music, all dance forms have some form of sequence whether it be traditional, folk, country, ballet, square, scottish, irish, clog, line or any other form.  What is generally called sequence dancing probably originated with the old court dances of France and England about 1600. 

Early in the 1900's the old time form developed with two steps, gavottes, mazurkas and quick waltz. Then came saunters, swings and tangos and these make up the traditional old time form.  New Vogue dancing in Australia is similar to the English old time form with open positions.  After the second world war came the halcyon days of ballroom dancing and this style started to predominate in what is known as modern sequence dancing by the 1950's.  In recent years the old time (or classical) style has virtually disappeared and  modern sequence dancing of today is almost entirely based on standard or ballroom dancing and latin styles.  

Unfortunately with the decline in popularity of ballroom dancing so interest in sequence dancing is dropping and many clubs are closing.  This style will probably disappear within this generation just like the old time.   


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