Member Musings – Dancing

Yes, you can dance Scottish all over the world -and  I have joined classes in Alexandria, USA, the Blue Mountains Australia, Hong Kong and France.  And of course there are branches of the Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society( throughout the UK, including Liverpool.  I was lucky to get a coveted ticket for a ball in St George’s Hall celebrating Liverpool as European capital of culture.  I in Liverpool on a Wednesday evening I enjoy attending a lovely class at Oakvale United Reform Church Hall.  As a Liverpudlian country associate member living in rural Oxfordshire I am of course missing my visits to the Club and the wonderful library.

I fell in love with Scottish Country Dancing about 25 yers ago.  I turned up at a class in Oxford and was instantly welcomed and danced with a different experienced partner throughout the evening. I hadn’t much of a clue initially – it’s a bit different from Ceilidh dancing such as the Gay Gordons, but the music and kilts worked their magic. Unsurprisingly there are usually more women who dance than men, so sometimes I  dance on the men’s side.  Women have to learn both parts.  Interestingly there are some wonderful demonstration teams of all male sets. A favourite dance is the Reel of the 51st Division which was devised by Lieutenant J.E.M. ‘Jimmy’ Atkinson of the 7th Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for the soldiers in a POW camp during the Second World War.

There are well over 15,000 documented dances, from the mid C18 century to 2020.  We dance with a partner usually in a set of 3, 4, 5 couples, to the rhythm of a jig, reel or strathspey ( slower and more elegant).  We often dance 20 dances with a different partner each time at a dance and it’s better and more enjoyable if we have learned the dances beforehand.  Now I watch Youtube beforehand of the dance. There are some great bands, my two favourites are Marian Anderson and Craichellachie.  

But of course we can’t dance during lockdown and I wonder when it will be considered safe to do so again. Maybe we will see the resurgence of masked balls. I miss the exhilaration of dancing to live music, the sociability and the feel good factor.  I’m making do with jigging at home watching dancers and online classes which regularly attract 1200 dancers from around the world. 

Ann Truesdale Ewelme