December 2014          A NEWSLETTER           No. 139


The first time I thought I would like to go to a day school I couldn’t get in – it was over-subscribed! The next year, however, I did manage to attend Derek Haynes’s class; I remember him teaching us Saltire Society Reel, and I also remember having to un-learn everything I’d ever learnt about dancing a strathspey. Time has gone on, and we now have just an afternoon school; as to numbers, they were pretty disappointing, in spite of Ken’s best efforts.

Two questions occur – why people go to a day school; and why they don’t. Sometimes people speak of “supporting” the branch by attending an event – is this like supporting a football team? If it is, you go out of a deep involvement and emotional commitment, and the hope that this time … Or do you mean that you would rather be somewhere else doing something else but you have put the Branch event first? It could even mean that you begrudgingly turn out when it’s a bit wet or cold instead of sitting at home watching Strictly…

Obviously I’d rather people went to a Day or Afternoon School because they really wanted to! So what are the positive reasons for going? Yes, you usually learn new or different dances – but you can do that, to some degree, on your regular class or club night. Hopefully, you can improve your dancing skills, which may mean a major improvement in a step, a greater awareness of the transition from one formation to another, or even just more attention and focus on handing or head position! (That head position one actually came from a Certificate class at St. Andrews! Simple but effective.)

I have said before that I think that when you are able to improve your technique, you are also able to dance better with other people, and this improves both your own enjoyment of the dance, and theirs. The same applies to increased spatial awareness, understanding of dancing, and confidence, all of which can be gained from day schools and workshops. Perhaps the most important reason to go is because you might just enjoy it!

So why do people choose NOT to go to events like the afternoon school? Two main reasons occur to me. Firstly, people are getting older: they can only do the Day School or the dance, but not both. However, it would be possible to pace yourself at the evening dance following the workshop, and just do some of the dances instead of as many as possible – try listening to the music! Do not feel obliged to say “yes” if you are asked to dance – explain politely that you are pacing yourself. My mother always said that you should never refuse in the interests of politeness, but as I get older I realize the value of self-preservation! Again, you can refuse even if the MC is exhorting you to make up the set; I do not feel that you have to absent yourself from the room (fellow MCs take note!)

And the second reason? Well, you don’t NEED to go to a Day School. You dance really well anyway and what are you going to learn? However, at most day schools, I contend, you should learn several things, and not just new dances. There is always something you can improve – and see earlier. Or else you have decided that dancing well, or at least dancing better, is unimportant. Again, see above. Not only will you enjoy your dancing more, but so will others. And finally, Ken’s hard work will not have been in vain!

Joyce Cochrane   


At the recent joint ball between the Leeds and York & N Humberside RSCDS branches, a lot of dancers were unhappy about the slippery surface of the floor. Normally this is a lovely sprung floor, but the surface meant that many dancers were unable to dance properly and had to be very cautious. Knowing that we have booked this hall for our 40th Anniversary Ball in November 2015, some people have expressed worries. The Branch committee would like to assure you that we take your safety and well-being very seriously, and to this end Ken Wallace has rung Riley-Smith Hall representatives. We are seeking a meeting with them as soon as possible and asking for assurances on the condition of the surface of the floor next year. We will report back when we have further information.


Some lessons (in rhyme)

Learnt over the years

Make dancing sublime –

So lend me your ears.

Listen all through

And you’ll be fine

The music tells you:

Keep in time.

Don’t be early

In a reel of three

Keep it curly

That’s my plea.

A grand chain

Is like a song

Count the refrain

And you won’t go wrong.

In a six-bar reel

Don’t be late

While you stand to heel

Ones cross seven/eight.

Held hands should be

At shoulder height

Firm grips are key -

But keep it light!

In a strathspey, attend

And dance the eighth bar –

Seven’s not the end

And the ninth is too far.

It’s better you try

To think in advance.

And now goodbye

Enjoy the dance!    Veronica Wallace, York



Our dance in January, as last year, takes the form of an afternoon dance with a Burns Supper to follow. We have negotiated for a little more time, so that the pace should be a little more leisurely when it comes to the supper! There will be a short break for juice etc. half way through the programme, and the Burns Supper will follow at the end.

The dance, at the Reading Rooms in Dunnington, begins at 2.00 pm and the event should end by 5.00 pm. The global price for the dance and the supper is £5. We will be dancing to recorded music. The programme has been devised by Helen Brown.


Our February Branch dance will be held at All Saints’ Church Hall in North Ferriby on Saturday 28th February, beginning at 7.30 p.m.  As usual for an evening dance which is to recorded music, you are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper; as ever, disposable plates are preferred. The price is the usual for normal branch dances to recorded music, i.e. £4 for RSCDS members and £5 for non-members.

If this is a new venue for you, it’s not hard to find – just off the A63 – remember there is a link on the branch website to a map.

The programme has been drawn up by Ken Wallace


As readers of Broun’s Reel should know by now, next year sees our 40th Anniversary as a branch of the RSCDS. Events and commemorations so far include:

40th Anniversary Ball , 21st November 2015, with Luke Brady’s band.

The production of commemorative laminated bookmarks.

40th Anniversary Booklet produced by Malcolm – shorter or longer contributions still very welcome.

Dance Competition. A new dance, written to celebrate our 40th Anniversary, would be demonstrated at the 40th Anniversary Ball and included in the 40th Anniversary Booklet. The dance needs to be submitted by the Burns dance in January, and all the dances will be tried out.

Possibly a Dance Competition Booklet.

Revisiting of some dances from our 1989 Competition dance Booklet in programmes leading up to the 40th Ball.

Contributions and suggestions of your ideas are very welcome.


What a year for Helen! First, Helen was awarded the Scroll of Honour by the RSCDS at the AGM in  in November. She was nominated by both York and North Humberside Branch and by the Education and Training Committee; Helen has worked very hard for Education and Training at Society Level, and is well known for teaching both at St. Andrews and internationally. Helen has also taught at our Day School and at the Harrogate Weekend. Some years back, some of you will remember a beginners’ and improvers’ class she ran in Hessle – this was successful enough that almost everyone went on to join in more advanced classes in the region.

Not only that, but the AGM also saw Helen voted in as Chairman Elect of the RSCDS. Many congratulations – and good luck!


Louise was a member not only of the York and North Humberside Branch during the last 4 years, but also of Leeds for many years. She was well known throughout the area, and Iain of course has been on the York and N. Humberside branch committee twice. When I first started to take my dancing seriously, it was Louise whose dancing I admired and who I tried to copy; she was well-respected as a dancer and well-liked as a person. Louise had suffered from cancer for some years, but kept dancing as long as she possibly could, often during treatment; she died aged 64 on October 2nd. The numbers at her memorial service were a tribute to the esteem and friendship people had for her.

At her funeral we learnt of various parts of her life – her family life, her music (there was some fabulous recorder playing at ceilidhs), her church life, and her work as a professional tour guide. The following tribute from Dorothy Hounam was read out:

“Louise loved Scottish Dancing, both country and highland.

She met Iain at a Scottish Highland Dancing class. She confided to me that from that first meeting, she thought, hmmm, he’s just the sort of man that I could marry … and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

She learned to dance when quite young, and dancing was a joy in her life. She and Iain were part of the Dunedin Dancers Demonstration team.

She enjoyed dancing in Leeds and became involved with the running of the club, becoming secretary of the Leeds Festival, which she ran for three years.

I met Louise through the York Scottish Country Dance Club some 10 years ago, where she encouraged me, as a raw beginner, to believe that one day even I could master the art of being in the right place at the right time and on the right beat. She MCed club evenings and put together some lovely dance programmes. She was able to give clear and concise instructions, which is a considerable skill. We all, from the raw beginners to the more experienced dancers, enjoyed her sessions, and we shall miss her evenings.

Over the past couple of years, a group of us from York have joined a party of dancers who travel south in the early spring for a week to get some much needed sunshine and to spend the evenings dancing. Even whilst she was ill, Louise and Iain joined us in Tevira in Portugal in 2012 and in Conil de la Frontera in Spain this year. Each year this group enjoys a ceilidh evening, and the York Group has become renowned for demonstrating a fun dance. This year we did two – the Hebridean Weaving Lilt, where the boys danced as girls and vice versa – with wigs to boot. It was a hoot. We then danced a very special strathspey, “Festival Dream”, written by a very special lady – Louise introduced the dance herself, telling how it had been inspired by a nightmare.”

Our thoughts and condolences are with Iain and with Louise’s two sons.


Jean McInnes, who danced with the Cottingham and Willerby Scottish Country Dance classes and with the Beverley Highland class, died on the evening of Monday, 24th November.

Jean was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in November last year, and steadily became more impaired. She will be much missed. The next edition of Broun’s Reel will contain a full obituary.

Our sincere condolences to Katherine, Fiona, Alison and Iain, and their families.

Floor Safety

Seriously - Music

40th Anniversary