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-
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-
By the way – I don’t think I’ve ever done demure and pretty!
Recipe for 12 Crêpes Croissants
Eggles fetched by e-
Butter, Scotch and Honey
Flours of Edinburgh
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).
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.
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.
NOT STRICTLY BALLROOM DANCING
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-
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
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
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.
BRANCH COMMITTEE 2017 – 2018
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
DOWNEY DAY OF DANCE -
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:
OBITUARY NOTICE – JOAN SIMPSON
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.
GOLDEN WEDDING CONGRATULATIOINS
Congratulations to Malcolm and Helen, who are celebrating their Golden Wedding this May. We wish you all the best!
RYEDALE SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE GROUP
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-
WHITE ROSE FESTIVAL, HAREWOOD, 8th JULY
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
Y&NH BRANCH DANCE, ELLOUGHTON, 23rd SEPTEMBER
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-
Copy date for next issue: 2nd September 2017