For those who are interested, we are dancing the "retire" part of the "advance to partners and retire with pas de basque" formation in the dance, Drambouie. The ladies are about to dance under the arms of the men (with pas de basque) to change places.
Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) is a popular social activity for people all over the world (Scottish decendants or not). You dance in a group of people called a set. Each person has a partner. In the set below, circles represent men and squares represent women; although, it really doesn't matter too much. If you're short of men, women dance with women and visa versa. Dancers usually change partners after a dance, so you don't need to worry about bringing a partner and you socialise with a lot of different people.
Dancers move about the set using a couple of wonderful Scottish dance steps (skip change of step and pas de basque) which are easy to learn, but take a while to perfect. (Nobody minds if you're not perfect ;-). A couple of other steps are also useful, but most people learn them in a relatively short time.
Typically, the first couple (at the top) dances with the second and third couple. Each couple has a different role in the dance. Then first couple moves down the set to repeat the dance with third and fourth couple, who assume the roles of second and third couples, respectively. A third repetition of the dance follows, with the new couple at the top (originally second couple) assuming the role of first couple and dancing progressively down the set. The original first couple moves to the bottom for this third repetition, becomes fourth couple, and progresses up the set. After the eighth repetition, each couple has done the dance twice from each possible position. It is very social, since you dance with everybody in the set and each couple have an opportunity to lead in the dance. There are a lot of variations on the basic set and progression (from three couple sets in line to square sets to the world record 512 member set for the Scottish strathspey and reel).
In the figure below, the first three couples are about to dance reels of three on the sides of the dance. This is one of the more interesting and challenging formations for beginners. All three couples trace a figure of eight at the same time, ending up where they started. It looks like first and third men will collide in the middle, but first goes a little faster and third goes slower to let him by (same thing on the ladies' side).
One of the finest things about SCD, after the wonderful friends you make, is the music. Jigs and reels are danced to the hottest (or most haunting and beautiful) Scottish tunes. Strathspeys and walzes feature gracefull, syncopated melodies which greatly enhance the dancing. For more information about SCD, access "the strathspey server".