English Country Dance

What is English Country Dance?

English Country Dancing is one of the many dance events that Portland Country Dance Community (PCDC) sponsors during the year.  There is a committee that is responsible for managing these dances.

If you have seen movies like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility or Emma, you have indeed seen English country dancing. English Country Dance is not only dances from long ago. The dance is thriving, and new dances and tunes are appearing every day. This social dance has many different formations, including circles, squares, long lines facing across, and small sets for 2-5 couples. Each dance has its own unique tune. Music for English dance ranges from hauntingly beautiful tunes to driving reels and jigs. We enjoy live music at all of our events.

There are no lessons or classes required to come dance with us. At the beginning of the dance there is a teaching session that will help you to become familiar with terminology and figures. Each dance is taught by the caller (teacher) before it is danced. The caller continues to prompt the dancers as needed. Since the pattern of moves of each dance is repeated often, dances are easy to learn. Both beginning and experienced dancers happily dance together, and everyone is willing to extend a helping hand.

You do not need to have a partner to attend the dance. Many people come to the dance alone. Dancers are encouraged to dance with many different partners throughout the evening. In fact, the easiest way to learn is to dance with someone who is more experienced than you!

Wear comfortable clothes. Most people dress casually, for ease of movement, and in anticipation of mild to vigorous exercise. Be sure to bring clean, comfortable shoes. (Many dancers prefer smooth, leather-soled shoes that are worn for dancing only.) To protect our fine maplewood dance floor we require that outside shoes worn for dancing be thoroughly brushed off.  Please refrain from wearing perfume or using heavily scented personal products.

Like many dance communities around the country, we hold an annual Ball when dancers may choose to dress-up in formal and festive clothing. The Portland English Country Ball weekend is a wonderful time of dancing and socializing.


Want to see what English Dancing is like?  Here are a few videos that show the variety of music, dance formations and figures. The first 3 videos feature dancers from our Portland English Dance.

Cockle Shells was originally published in 1701 and is still danced often.

Diana’s Maggot is from 2017 and done to a waltz tune.  English dances are choreographed to reels, jigs, Waltzes and other types of music.  Note: In the 1600s “Maggot” was also used to describe a “Fancy or whim”.

Leather Lake House was published in 1788. This video shows a variation of that old dance which has been renamed Leather Lake Cottage.  

Prince William is a 3-couple dance that was originally published in 1731. This video was recorded at the New York City English Ball. Dancers at this event chose to dress festively and formally.

Where and When

PCDC COVID Safety policies (vaccination and masking) are in effect. Find the details here.

See the calendar for specific dates and event details.

There’s a regular dance most Fridays from 7:30-10:30pm. It’s open to all. A first-timers’ orientation at 7:15pm is available upon request. 

Burlingame Water Tower Dance Hall
8936 SW 17th Ave
Portland, OR 97219

Come to our annual Portland English Country Dance Ball Weekend, typically held on the 1st Friday and Saturday in November. Pre-registration is required. All the details are on the Ball website.

Oaks Park Dance Pavillion
7805 Oaks Park Way
Portland, OR 97202

The 2nd Sunday English Dance for Experienced Dancers is an opportunity to dance to the music of Fine Companions (and friends). The dances will be a balance of familiar dances and unfamiliar dances. Callers will encourage dancers to incorporate style points such as quality of movement, timing, transitions, and dancing with the music. We ask that dancers be comfortable dancing standard English Dance figures including:

   Heys in various orientations
   Regular and double figure eights
   Triple minor progressions
   Dancing with couples outside your group of 4
   Straight and draw pousettes

If you are not familiar with these figures, we recommend you attend the weekly PCDC Friday Night English Dance to become comfortable with these figures before attending a 2nd Sunday English Dance for Experienced Dancers. (NOTE: No street shoes permitted beyond the entrance).

A Renaissance School of Arts and Science Dance Hall
234 S Bancroft St
Portland, OR 97239