May 2017          A NEWSLETTER           No. 149


There was once a time when I didn’t care overmuch for strathspeys. In my defence, I must state that this was a LONG time ago – certainly long before I did my Prelim in 1990 – and maybe before I learned to dance strathspeys properly. What has brought this to mind are a few conversations I have had in the past months where other people have decried traditional 8x32 bar strathspeys, saying they are boring or last too long, or that they only really like 4x32 or 3x32 strathspeys.  This editorial is an attempt to defend the strathspey and say why I love it!

The way you dance in strathspey time is important. As a beginner, it is slow enough to enable you to work out the geography of the dance and get to the right place in time. A very elderly person – I remember Cath McTurk at 90 – or someone with bad hip or knee problems, can similarly get to the right place at the right time, and can still enjoy the dance. For the rest of us somewhere in between these two points, a strathspey should not be considered an easy option. A good strathspey step requires strength, stamina, grace, good carriage and precision. It is not a weak little movement that minces about looking demure and pretty (unless you are REALLY tired!)  A woman stretching that front leg forwards with power looks at once elegant and dynamic. As for men – I saw a young man dancing a strathspey at St. Andrews (was he Japanese or German?) once, and thought I had never seen anything look so masculine in all my life.

Strathspeys are not boring because they are slow! While I admit there are one or two boring dances and two or three boring tunes, it is not the speed that makes them boring – you can say the same about reels and jigs. Traditional strathspeys – identify them by the “Scotch snap” roughly a dotted quaver with a semi-quaver, and vice-versa – often are really complex tunes which “urge” you through the phrases: they impart an impetus and a lightness at the same time. Strathspeys in minor keys can melt your heart. While there are those who would only admit these genuine strathspeys, many of us also like strathspeys danced to slow airs (like ‘The Lea Rig’ or ‘The Dream Catcher’. Perhaps my favourite new strathspey is Lindsey Ibbotson’s Riding through the Dark for ‘Midsummer Common’: the rhythm seems based on the Scotch snap with triplets, but the melody has a completely new and distinctive feel to it.  The more I’ve listened to strathspey tunes, the more they have grown on me. And if you still think they are boring, trying listening to them with attention!

Thirty years or so ago when I first started dancing, one or two popular bands played strathspeys very “heavily”, with a strong first beat to the bar but (and here musically I run aground – it wasn’t sustained?) The effect was to drive the dancer’s lead foot down into the ground rather than getting the dancer to stretch and push along the floor. Not many bands seem to do that these days – while that first beat is still unmissable, and still gives impetus, it feels lighter and inspiring onwards! Next time, listen to the drive onwards that happens in the music. And if you choose to respond to it…

There are some really good modern dances that only go three or four times through, but I believe these should not dominate a programme, no matter how much you like “Minister on the Loch” or “Rougemont Castle”. We often enjoy dances where everyone is moving at once and doing something different – but it’s much easier for a beginner to dance, for instance, “Margaret Parker’s Strathspey”. Sometimes only a single strathspey on a programme will be an 8 x 32 bars, which I feel is selling people short! So this editorial is also a plea to programme devisers, that they try to include at least one 8 x 32 bar strathspey in each half – as a minimum? I do like many of the 3 x 32 and 4 x 32 dances, I just want people to think about the older full-length strathspeys too. The main message remains: STRATHSPEYS ARE NOT BORING!

By the way – I don’t think I’ve ever done demure and pretty!

Joyce Cochrane


Recipe for 12 Crêpes Croissants


Eggles fetched by e-line

Butter, Scotch and Honey

Flours of Edinburgh

Hazels (three)

A raw ring of Jelly

Use your best handing to mould all together into a double figure of eight, melt into a circle, then turn and twirl to the back of the fireside. When really broun, eat with tatties (bogled and mashed).

What would

Make Caddam feel good?

Give him sunshine and sweeties

And  tender wild geesies

Use a peat fire flame if you can afford

To make him some toast of bon accord.

But when it’s windy on the loch

Feed him a roasted weathercock

He’ll need balm for his skin, so give him a packet

Then he’ll feel fine in his blue mess jacket.

Now he’s ready for pud, so for a start

Give him a slice of cranberry tart

Then a strawb’ry or two, not blonde but red

Will send him happy to his bed.  


Veronica Wallace


The Duke of Perth

Increased his girth

By eating Sugar Candie

So he raced his horse

At York’s great course

And thus became quite bandy.


Many years ago I was a ballroom dancer. I had never heard of Scottish Country Dancing, although lunchtime dancing in the school hall, when the weather was wet and were allowed inside, included the Barn Dance, Gay Gordons, the Dashing White Sergeant, the Square Tango, the Veleta and more old-time dances. Now I realise how good our third year pianist must have been to cope with all this. The source of all these dances was a friend’s mother who was a keen dancer at the weekends. She had a non-dancing husband so encouraged her daughter to accompany her. I was soon included in the party. I was a bit afraid when I saw how good some of the dancers were. After all I didn’t know how to do a slow foxtrot or a modern tango and I wanted to learn (and maybe wear some of the beautiful frocks they wore).

It was a few years before I had the chance to learn. A new dance school started up in York and with a few friends I went to the classes in modern waltz, quickstep, slow foxtrot and tango. Later on came the rumba, samba, jive and paso doble – the cha-cha-cha hadn’t made it into the exam process at that time. So then I had handfuls of medals and statuettes at all grades, but in the end no regular partner. I had learned more than anyone else I met locally but it wasn’t fun any more.

In ballroom dancing a regular partner is necessary. Unless, of course, you go into the realms of Strictly Come Dancing and borrow a temporary one, which is where this article started following on from Joyce’s editorial in the last Broun’s Reel. I don’t watch the programme when it is broadcast. I record it, then I can fast forward over parts of it, like the two women chatting and all those irritating pauses as they announce the results! I come at it from a slightly different perspective. I like to listen to the judges’ comments to hear if I agree with them although I admit that, like in Scottish, some new formations have been invented since I danced but the basics are still there (somewhere).

Len is the one who has been involved all his life in ballroom dancing, teaching and judging and for me is the one to listen to if you want true comments. The other two men also know all about ballroom and are brilliant choreographers in show business. I find Darcey Bussell a bit annoying. In her own field she is brilliant but it is obvious that she is still learning about ballroom dancing as the series progresses. I usually fast forward over her comments.

The music doesn’t always fit the dance. I won’t say come back Joe Loss and Victor Silvester - they’re long gone, but perhaps there are some out there who could do a better job of keeping strict tempo and do we really need singers? I know it seems to be what the public want but I’m sorry I don’t. Sad isn’t it?

So I am dancing Scottish simply because it is more sociable and I don’t need my own partner. There are lots of you out there.

Rita Eastwood, York

My apologies to Rita for omitting this from the last Broun’s Reel – Joyce.


The committee officers elected after the recent AGM are as follows:

Chairman      Chris Hare (01482 645282)

Secretary      Helen Brown (01904 488084

Treasurer      Nigel Bell

Minutes Secretary     Lynne Brooks

Committee Member   Jennifer Robinson


The second “Downey Day of Dance” will be held at Dunnington Sports Club, Common Road, Dunnington on Sunday 21st May.

Rod Downey, the well known teacher of SCD from New Zealand, deviser of dances and of the formation the Rose Progression, will shortly be working in Germany and while visiting the UK will teach for a day at York.   A few years ago Rod taught a Day of Dance for us which was received with great acclaim.   There will be a class in the morning and one in the afternoon with a buffet lunch provided.   Attendance can be for one or both classes together with lunch if required.  The cost for lunch and both sessions is £23.

10.00  Registration and coffee

10.30 – 12.45 Class

1.00  Buffet Lunch

2.00 – 4.15 Class

For further information please contact Helen Brown   tel: 01904 488084 email:


I am sorry to report the death of Joan Simpson, from the Willerby group, on March 4th. Joan was suffering from cancer.  It is by request that there is not a longer tribute or obituary.


Congratulations to Malcolm and Helen, who are celebrating their Golden Wedding this May. We wish you all the best!


Further dates for your diary

We are holding three teaching sessions for beginners in the Autumn Term.

Malcolm Brown has agreed to take these session which will be held in the Parish Hall, Hallgarth, Pickering  from 2p.m. to 4p.m. on Wednesday afternoons 4th October, 1st November and 6th December.

Anyone interested in joining us please contact

Sheila Barnes  01751 473924 e-mail  or  Jennifer Robinson on 07886 869281 or e-mail


The branch is again hoping to send a team to the White Rose Festival, being held again at Gateways School, Harewood, on Saturday July 8th: This year  Neil Hardie’s band is playing. Practices will be held at the Hull end of our area. If you would like to take part, please contact Lynne Brooks (01482 840301).


Led by Jennifer Robinson.

Date:          Thursday 8th June 2017

Time:          10 a.m.

Distance:    5 miles approx. (Can be shortened if weather inclement)

Start:           Kirkbymoorside Golf Club Car Park. YO62 6EG


Up the main street to small roundabout, follow road round to the left       (sign posted Farndale, Fadmoor, Gillamoor) at the cross roads, turn right up  Manor  Vale sign posted Golf  Club. The car park is at top of a short rise.
                    (The Club House is up through the gate ahead).


Manor Vale, High Park, Cockpit Hall, Rumsgill, Low Park Kirkbymoorside, Castlegate, and back  via Manor Vale back to the Golf Club.

Approx 12.30p.m. for 1p.m. lunch.

Contact:    Jennifer Robinson    Mobile: 07886869281

Land line: 01751 431368   




Our dance in September has been moved back slightly to give people time to get back into dancing after the summer! Intrepid explorers Lynne and Chris discovered Elloughton Village Hall (HU15 1AJ), a new venue for us, and to encourage you further this is another dance to live music! You are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper. The price is £8 for RSCDS members, £10 for non-members. The programme has been chosen by Lynne Brooks and will be danced to live music from Robert Whitehead:

Copy date for next issue:     2nd September 2017

New Committee

Recipe Faith Supper

Not Strictly

Beginners’ Classes

White Rose Festival

Branch Walk