May  2015          A NEWSLETTER           No. 141


Back in the good old days, when we had a lot more dancers in the Branch, we used to dance at the Milton Rooms in Malton: you may remember it. A huge place with a decent floor, we had begun to rattle around in it, and it was only a couple of years before we abandoned going there that they updated the toilets. We were still getting reasonably good numbers back in September 1993, however, when I wrote an editorial about a problem I had noticed for some years at Malton.

The trouble with going to the same venue for years, as had happened at Malton, was that people ended up always sitting in the same groups in the same parts of the hall – and not mixing with each other. In the September 1993 issue I wrote:

“I can predict where the various groups from the area will be sitting: starting from your right as you face the stage, Cottingham, then Willerby/Beverley, then anyone from Bridlington or Scarborough; on the left, nearest the stage are York, and so on.  Many of us will stay chatting to our own groups between dances, dance with them and have supper with them.  Then we may complain that the other groups – ‘they’ - never dance with ‘us’, and that ‘their men’ never ask ‘our lot’ to dance.”

After I’d written that editorial, I felt obliged to sit away from everyone else I knew for a few years! “But we’re all sitting up near the front”, my Monday night friends would say. If I sat with them, however, I would be joining the kind of clique I felt I was campaigning against, and so when the next Malton Ball arrived I sat at the back, opposite the stage, with the late-comers and the unattached – all of whom I then talked to.  

I was also concerned back then that many women might be shy about ‘crossing the floor’ or asking men to dance. I think that 22 years later, on average we women are a bolder breed, and we will ask others to dance. Crossing the floor, though, is still difficult for many women, and the geography of the halls sometimes seems to invite insularity – a problem to some degree at the Riley-Smith Hall in Tadcaster (where we are trying some alterations to the seating layout for next times so that the position of tables does not preclude mixing).

I feel that this is particularly a problem however, at halls like Askham Bryan, where there can be a five-set width or more between the two sides. In such cases, we still sit on our ‘own’ side of the hall, and there are few women who make it across to the other side. I can say this with confidence because I am one of the few who do! Which has the knock-on effect of not talking to people from the other groups between dances or at supper time. And we still like to think that we are sociable friendly people. An opposite problem comes when you share a lift – how do you say to someone “Thanks for the lift, but I’m going to sit over there and dance with them.” Some sort of compromise is needed!

Body language was a problem then; it may not be quite so bad now, or perhaps I am just deluding myself. We used to stand in tight knots, with our backs to the ‘other side’ – it took a very brave soul to break through that grouping. I think we are now more ready to socialise with others – so long as they make the effort first? Again, I think that it is we women who have this problem, rather than the men.

In the end, does it matter? I will quote my justification for feeling that this mixing was necessary:

“Perhaps if we did circulate more, we could create a greater sense of unity within the branch - a sense that we are not simply members of our own little groups but integrated into a larger body.”

You’ll find that there are some really nice people out there! And if you’re a member of ‘my group’ – I love you all and I’m not abandoning you, but I think I should maybe practice what I preach. That’s the back at Askham Bryan for me, then…

Joyce Cochrane


There are some dances that divide the dancing world into two: lovers and haters. In this case it’s the music that does this, so please hum the Dreamcatcher tune and don’t forget the words – at least the first lines – when you next dance it. (Incidentally, the order of the stanzas is fluid, as different bands do not always seem to play the elements of the tune in the same order.)

It’s a sweetly soppy tune

For the twists and the twirls

That is what I think as

The dance unfurls.

It’s a sweetly soppy tune

No hint of Scottish lilt

Have the salts handy or

We droop and we wilt.

It’s a sweetly soppy tune

It gets in your head

And the nightmares come when

Next you’re in bed.

It’s a sweetly soppy tune

For a dreamcatcher that’s true

To filter bad dreams,

Letting others through.

With an ugh and an augh

I’ll try to say I’m sad

Giving those who like it

Reason to feel bad.

But revenge has been ta’en

I fear I have a pain from

A surfeit of listening

Over again.

I won’t go on for the rest of the 96 bars, for which you’ll be thankful.

Veronica Wallace, York


Last year at the joint Leeds RSCDS/York RSCDS Ball at the Riley-Smith Hall in Tadcaster, the dance floor seemed really slippery to many dancers, and so we did not dare move as we usually do for fear of sliding and slipping. This was a great shame as many felt they could not dance properly and that the benefits of the beautifully sprung floor that we’d danced on in previous years was completely lost, and some dancers were worried enough to ask that the committee do something about the floor  before our 40th Anniversary Ball later this year.

Ken Wallace rang the management team at the Riley-Smith Hall following the dance to find that they had not been aware of a problem before we arrived that night. They had done nothing different to the treatment of the hall floor than in the past; what was different was that new glazed windows had been fitted before the summer, and they felt that this had dried out the floor and made it “faster”.

Our concern then was to see what could be done so that the problem did not reoccur this year; the management at the Riley-Smith Hall could not have been more helpful. Helen Brown, Nigel Bell and I went to meet Lucy Tate and her mother at the Hall, and Nigel and I danced a variety of moves and figures on the floor in different pairs of shoes. Lucy assured us that when the floor was polished, it did “slow down”, and they promised to polish the floor on the Saturday of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Normally the floor is given two coats of polish but on this occasion they were only able to give it one.

The three of us returned to Tadcaster after the Easter Bank Holiday, and discovered that the floor now felt quite safe – again, Nigel and I took our shoes, and even in the pair with shiny soles my footing was secure. They have promised that the floor will be polished just a couple of days before the Anniversary dance so that it will again feel safe. While they could not allow the use of Slip-Stop over the centre of the floor, for perfectly valid reasons which they explained, they will allow us to put a small tray of Slip-Stop at the bottom on each side of the Hall, and Ken Wallace has made these for us.

Nigel and I both took our least “safe” shoes and those with the best soles to dance on. Where we had brushed the soles with a wire brush and kept them in best condition, we felt absolutely secure; there was a little more risk with soles shiny from acquired layers of muck and slip-stop, but even these felt basically safe. I also tried a pair with Senior’s non-slip soles on the newly polished floor; my well-brushed pair were better to dance in.

The message then is this: Riley-Smith have promised that the floor will be newly-polished, and we feel it will then be quite safe. We would also recommend that you too brush your soles in advance with a wire brush (good practice in any case), and we hope to have a wire brush with each tray at the Hall. Helen and I were both worried about being on the floor last year: we now feel confident and recommend it to you.

Joyce Cochrane


On the theme of dancing whilst we are still reasonably fit, Allan and I have had a great February dancing - Harrogate weekend, dance at the Newcastle festival and then Winter school. Now for the withdrawal symptoms!

The Harrogate weekend at the Cairn hotel was a delight with great dances, and excellent clear teaching from Alasdair Brown. On the Friday evening Neil Barron played and on the Saturday we had Marian Anderson and her band - brilliant. The weekend ran so smoothly no doubt to Helen's organisation yet again. If you haven't danced on the sprung floor at the Cairn come along next year and try it. The weekend also enables members of the branch from all the different areas to socialise in lovely surroundings as well as welcoming enthusiastic dancers from elsewhere.

Then the following weekend we went to the evening dance at the Newcastle festival. Marian Anderson again playing so happily and enthusiastically. Her playing of her tune The City of Belfast is so beautiful. We often watch the videos from this event to learn the dances and to see such a high standard of dancing is superb. Next year we could lengthen the stay and watch the competition during the day. To dance with young enthusiastic dancers from all over Europe was great. The displays put on by the winning teams of the Airyhall dancers from Aberdeen and the German team were fascinating. How do they remember what dance blends into another? The dance in the evening at Emmanuel College in Gateshead was great. Dancers were recapped and often sets walked through the dances quickly if they were unfamiliar- so no fear there!

Finally we went to Winter School at Pitlochry. The Co-ordinator was Margo Priestley who is such a delightful friendly personality, so we knew we were in for a great few days. This year there were four members of the branch there- Allan and I, Ken Wallace and Carol Hazell.

We remember 2010 when there were 12 of us from the branch there and we have a lovely photo on the Branch website of us all at the ball at Blair Castle  As usual  Winter School was really good fun. We had four different teachers and it was fascinating to watch their varied teaching styles. Jimmie Hill and William Williamson both focused on the sheer enjoyment of dancing and the flow of the dance. Due to the snowy weather Ruby and Margo made a great team on the first morning when we doubled up classes to keep us all cosy in the hotel ballrooms.

We were fortunate that George Meikle was running the music school, so we had superb music all week. Yet again we enjoyed the music of Marian Anderson, and that of the young Martainn Skene and the youngsters Susan and Shona MacFadyen as well as the music school members. There was an excellent ceilidh with superb music and singing. To hear Shona on the fiddle and Susan on the accordion playing so enthusiastically - what a treat. We also enjoyed afternoon sessions on quadrilles and John Wilkinson's new dances and the evening dances were fun. The ball at Blair Castle was great- what a magical setting on a snowy winter's evening.  

So if you find February a bit of a bleak month, you can keep dancing.

Margaret Highet, York


The Charity Dance this year returns to the southern end of the region, at the United Church Hall in Toll Gavel in central Beverley, on 13th June. Suitable car-parks could be close to the hall at Butcher Row (by Marks and Spencer’s car park, entrance off)) and at Spenser Street – both signposted from New Walkergate, the A164 south through Beverley. There is also the School Lane car park on the opposite side of the A164.

This year the charity we will be raising funds for is Dove House Hospice in Hull. There will be a raffle on the night – groups are asked if they will donate one good prize each. Entry will be £5 for all; remember that everything raised on the night (not just profits) goes to the charity. Refreshments as usual in the form of a Faith Supper.

The programme has been chosen by Chris to be largely accessible to less experienced dancers; it will be danced to recorded music:


The committee has been asked to run a course for the Teacher’s Certificate Part 1.   This has been agreed but we need more candidates to make it viable.   Classes would be run over a series of Sunday afternoons possibly 2 per month, or 1 every 3 weeks, in a central location like Dunnington.   The course Tutor would be Malcolm Brown who is very experienced as a tutor of units 2, 3 and 5.   The course will be advertised to other branches and notified to HQ of the RSCDS.

The course will cover Unit 2 which is the dancing exam.   This is examined on dancing ability and knowledge of 12 set dances.   Unit 3 is the teaching part of the exam.   Unit 1, which is knowledge of the Manual of Scottish Country dancing, is a self-study module for which there is an exam.   This exam can be taken on either of 2 dates during the year (February or October).

If you are interested in taking this course, please contact either Malcolm Brown or any committee member.               Helen Brown, York  


There were two new members voted onto the committee this year, as Ken and Lynne had both reached the end of their three year term of office. Since the AGM, Allan Highet has also been coopted onto the committee. We are particularly pleased to welcome Dorothy Hounam onto the committee for the first time.

The officers and members of the committee for the next year are as follows:

Chairman -        Chris Hare

Secretary -        Helen Brown

Treasurer -        Nigel Bell

Minute Secretary -   Joyce Cochrane

Day School org.       Allan Highet

Other   Dorothy Hounam



As you are all aware by now, the Branch is holding its 40th Anniversary Ball on Saturday 21st November at the Riley-Smith Hall in Tadcaster. Luke Brady’s band is playing, RSCDS Chairman   Jim Healy and his wife Marilyn will be attending, and Chairman–Elect Helen Russell and Ian have also been invited.

So that as many people as possible can get there, the Committee have decided to put on two minibuses from the south of the area, and will also put one on from York or other northern points if there is demand. See a committee member or contact Broun’s Reel if this would be of interest to you.

We hope that past members no longer dancing, as well as those current members will attend; we are proposing two minibuses back to the Hull/Hessle area, one leaving early after the supper, and one at the end of the second half. There will also be a celebration cake, a new dance devised for the occasion, and the anniversary booklet available to all members. Please join us and make this a very special night.


Rita would appreciate articles, notices and photos for the branch website so that we can expand our content a little. Please note that it may not be possible for a variety of reasons to put everything on to the website, but we would like more contributions from our members.


REMINDER - meet at Millington Church at 9.45 am for a 10.0 am prompt start.  Car parking on the verge by the church.  

The walk is 5 miles, with an alternative shorter walk of 4 miles.  The longer walk has a steep upward slope and a similar descent.  The shorter walk has some upward slopes.

Lunch is at Kilnwick Percy Golf Club, a 10-minute drive from Millington – two courses with tea and coffee (BELOW) (latte, mocha or herbal tea £1.50 extra).  Please inform Jean of your choices by FRIDAY May 29th:

Jean & Allan Swearman, Tel: 01482 882993


TWO COURSES  - £14.50


Posh beer battered Fish and Chips –mushy peas, tartare sauce & lemon

Caesar Salad – choice of Chicken or Salmon – lettuce, pancetta, egg,

KP Pie of the Day – with creamed mash and seasonal vegetables

Penne Arrabiata – penne pasta in a rich tomato and chilli sauce


Classic Crème Brulée

Sticky Toffee Pudding with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream

Lemon Curd and Vanilla Cheesecake with mango sorbet

Yorkshire Cheese Board with celery, chutney & cheese biscuits  (£1.50 supplement)

Wheels and Legs

I have always enjoyed teaching and have been doing it now for over 40 years. However I have just returned from a short teaching trip to Samara in Russia, where I had probably the most challenging and satisfying experience in all this time. It was described as an “Inclusive” class, where half of the participants were in wheelchairs. One girl was pushed, but the others were self propelled, including one young lady in a motorised chair. Like most physically handicapped people they suffered from the “does he take sugar?” attitude, and were not surprisingly nervous at the start - so was I! Fortunately I had persuaded a friend from Nizhny Novgorod to accompany me and translate, so they soon relaxed. We had three classes, followed by a final ball, which was a complete success, and I finished up feeling absolutely elated.

The trip started with meeting my friend Arina in Moscow; this involved me travelling from the airport and using the Metro all on my own – quite exciting. We then travelled by overnight train to Samara, where we were met by Sergey, the event organiser, who took us to our hotel. After freshening up and changing it was a bus into town, lunch, and finally the first class. We used this to establish which formations they could do, and how much music they needed – “advance and retire” they could manage in four bars as normal, but “four hands across and back” we discovered took sixteen. (We also decided that the motorised chair needed dual controls, so that she could drive with either hand and take hands with the other!)

The second class involved putting the formations together into dances, and we then encountered the usual problems of beginners – those in wheelchairs, and their able bodied partners, had to remember what came next! By the third lesson, where we revised the three dances we had learnt in the second lesson and added another, everyone was getting quite accomplished. At this stage we could even perform 3 couple dances in a 4 couple set!

And then we came to the final ball, where we were joined by the other group of able bodied dancers I had been teaching. Everyone was dressed for the occasion, and we alternated dances they had been taught with dances performed by the two sets of wheelchair dancers. After a while we started to run out of dances, so we had everyone up in one long set and put together a “once and to the bottom” dance – a real case of “Inclusive Dancing”. Even this wasn’t enough for them, and I had to devise yet another dance for the wheelchair users – one they hadn’t practiced, but which they successfully managed!

I found the whole experience very emotional and exciting.

I have included some photos that were taken at the class and the ball - see our gallery page, and there is a 10 minute video that I have put up on YouTube  - for anyone who has access to a computer and is interested.

So why the title? Arina found that it was necessary sometimes to differentiate between the wheelchair users and their able bodied partners – even in English this can be a problem, and it is no better in Russian, so she came up with terms “Legs” and “Wheels”

What about the rest of my trip? We travelled back after the ball by overnight train, arriving in Moscow mid-afternoon. This gave us time to visit an art gallery, with paintings by Van Gogh, Matisse, etc., before having a meal just outside the Kremlin. Then a trip via Red Square to GUM, a high class shopping mall, to see what we couldn’t afford.

The next day we visited a Technology Museum, with an outside display of military aircraft, tanks, and rockets and an inside display of luxury cars and motorbikes. This left us the evening free, so we obtained tickets for the ballet “Don Quixote” – another wonderful experience, despite having to stand through the three acts, and a great way to conclude this challenging experience.

Malcolm Brown