December 2015          A NEWSLETTER           No. 143


Picture this. A wild night in November. It’s cold, the wind is blowing and rain falls from time to time. Inside, the lights are on, it’s warm and cheerful. This was the 40th Anniversary Ball a few weeks ago at the Riley-Smith Hall in Tadcaster, attended by around 105 dancers. What a great atmosphere there was, and how we enjoyed it!  

The music from Luke Brady and his band was excellent, with assured first-rate playing and absolutely the right tempo throughout.  Well, some of the sets he gave us were even better than that! The band’s playing really added to the evening and I don’t know what they cost, but for me they were worth every penny. Were they better than Mártainn Skene at the Day School dance?  Ah, a hard call! Possibly as good, but not better. What a fabulous future ahead for dancers with such exciting young bands around. Would that we had as many good young dancers, though as I noted at St. Andrews, a few more seem to be emerging.

There were a good number of dancers from all around at Tadcaster, not just from our own Branch, and it gives credence to our claim that all sorts of people can be united by Scottish Country Dancing. Several of our dancers enthused over dancing with a young man from Russia, who I think must have travelled farthest to the dance. We also had with us as guests the current chairman, Jim Healey, and his wife Marilyn, editor of The Scottish Country Dancer, and the Chairman Elect, our very own Helen Russell.

Another highlight was the display of Malcolm’s dance “Forty and Counting”, the winner of the branch dance competition, demonstrated by Jennifer Robinson, Chris Hare, Di Edwards, Carol Hazell, Malcolm, Alasdair and Duncan Brown and Ken Wallace. The flow from one figure to the next was delightful and it wasn’t nearly as hard as it had looked on paper! The only complaint was that it was only demonstrated twice through and not four times! Many congratulations to Malcolm and to the team.

Last year’s slippery floor was not a problem this year, and just a little slip-stop judiciously applied meant that we could dance safely and enjoy that wonderful sprung floor. The buffet, as usual, was excellent: many thanks to the staff at Riley-Smith who were so helpful.

Now picture this. A wild night in November. It’s cold, the wind is gusting strong and driving the rain before it. Inside, the lights are on, it’s warm and comfortable and there’s some good stuff on the telly. It’s a bit of a walk in this inclement weather from the car park to the hall, but nevertheless inside twenty-odd people have gathered to dance. No live music or best kilts and frocks this time either.

But those people inside that hall had come for the same reasons as the 105-odd dancers had gone to Tadcaster. They love dancing (even if it sometimes goes pear-shaped) and they love the music. Most of all they love being with like-minded people, they have fun as well as learn dances, and it’s a good social event –good enough to bring this group of people away from their cosy homes on a wild blustery night.

It’s a lesson to teachers – for some people this is one of their few social activities, or what they enjoy doing most. It is really valuable to them as participants, and teachers must recognize how important it is to them. Of course teachers want to teach new dances, to ensure that the formations are danced correctly, that handing and phrasing are good. For many dancers, it is important that they’ve practised the dances on the next programme to gain enough confidence to take part in most or all of the dances. Other dancers, however, go to few if any dances, just their local class; some are less experienced; some can readily identify half a dozen dances with a particular figure (say, the tourbillon).  Ideally, they will all enjoy themselves and go home happy. In the end, is this the most important thing a teacher does?

Here’s to more happy dances, wherever they may be! Enjoy your dancing!

Joyce Cochrane  


Brings it home to you, dunnit, this 40 years on business, celebrate as we may. Makes you realise there won’t be another 40 years on for anyone my age or even a bit younger (see Joyce’s last editorial). Ten years on is a bit unlikely too. But go for it, I say, persevere, and take comfort from a list of things that might prevent just anyone from dancing:

A person from Porlock

Brain decay

Collapse of civilisation

Drowning in the Sound of Harris

Elephants stampeding

Fractures to bones (those below the waist)

Grandparent duty

Having died (but who knows?)


Jumping absentmindedly into a recycling lorry

Knee injury (sadly, seriously true)

Laziness (not again!)

Mummy wouldn’t let me


Old age (never!!)

Porridge, too much of it

Querns (but why?)

Really, reely, very little at all

Sueno’s stone blocking the Snake Pass

The end of the world

Unexpected visits from uninterested people (and what a bind they are!)

Very big bunions (perhaps)

Withdrawal symptoms

X number of reasons

You name it...

Zeno’s Paradox (you just can’t move)

Veronica Wallace, York

Dancing at the Day School Dance 2015   Photo: Allan Highet


Dancers who present at the Tadcaster 40th Anniversary Ball have already received their copy of the commemorative booklet; current and recent members should receive theirs soon. Many thanks to Malcolm for producing such an impressive and professional booklet.


The book of dances produced by Branch members to celebrate the 40th anniversary is now on sale for £6.


As for the last few years, we are holding a Burns Dance followed by a Burns Supper in the Reading Rooms at Dunnington, on the afternoon of Saturday, 23rd January, beginning at 2 pm. There will be a short interval. The dance will be followed by the supper and there will be the usual Address to the Haggis; the whole afternoon should end about 5 pm. The dance, including supper, will cost £5. The programme, to recorded music, has been devised by Nigel Bell.


Our Branch Dance on 27th February will be held in St. Luke’s Church hall in Willerby, 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, preferably on disposable plates. The price is the usual for normal branch dances to recorded music, i.e. £4 for RSCDS members and £5 for non-members. The programme has been devised by Chris Hare.


Time:   8.00 pm (31 December 2015) to midnight plus (1 January 2016).

Place: Dunnington Reading Rooms.

Catering: Faith Supper.

Admission: By ticket-crib only.   The ticket-crib contains information on all the dances in the programme.

The New Year will be welcomed in our customary manner.   If, weather permitting, you wish to dance the Old Year away, ticket-cribs, at £3.00 each, may be obtained from:

Michael & Susan East,  11 Cedar Glade, Dunnington, York, YO19  5QZ  (Tel: 01904 489 799)

Not Dancing?

40th Anniversary

Branch Dance Book
Forty and Counting