September 2017        A NEWSLETTER           No. 150


It wasn’t until I began transferring my thoughts to the page that I realised Broun’s Reel has an anniversary to celebrate – its 150th edition: an “Anniversary Reel” indeed. This is the 110th editorial that I have written, and the jokes (?) are still as bad. I feel that to celebrate, this should be a really sparkling editorial, but you’ve just got the best I can do! I could have been nagging you about how to form sets…

In the media, big events like anniversaries get really celebrated; it is more of a happy coincidence that the 150th issue of Broun’s Reel is being met with the longest string of consecutive dances to live music that I can remember – one each month from September to December! Then if we add in the York Club dance, that’s five dances to live music we can attend in the area in four months, something I would have thought impossible even fifteen editions ago. As anniversaries are occasions when prizes are given out, the first (virtual) bouquet of the edition goes to the members of the committee who have made this happen.

The second bouquet goes to Rosemary and Barry, who get on with producing the newsletter with very few instructions. Sometimes Rosemary has had very little time to put it together, particularly when I was teaching full time, but it’s always there! I remember once someone dictating me a programme 55 minutes before I gave it to Rosemary. Sometimes there are slightly odd font sizes so that articles fit a certain space, or borders or photographs can appear without warning, but they usually cope with all this with little trouble. Then there’s assembling the newsletter and distributing it, a fairly unenviable task. So thank you both for your work over the past 110 editions – we couldn’t have got to 150 without you.

You will have noticed that one particular dancer began writing an occasional article, but soon because a regular contributor when the articles made me laugh every time. It has meant that among all the information, the serious stuff, the harangues from the editor and so on, there was always something to make you smile. At least one article has not been written by me every time, too! A change of voice is always a good thing. So thank you, Veronica, and another virtual bouquet to you for your contributions.

Other people occasionally write reports on dances and walks, etc. – so thanks to them too. This is an area which could easily expand– tell me of dances you’ve been too, other types of dancing you have been involved in, or of strange and unusual venues you have come across. Any odd journeys or peculiar happenings? Any friends you made dancing in Auckland or Auchterarder? Anything remotely Scottish or with a Scottish dance connection will be considered – you may well get an accolade for it in the 200th edition. That’s 12½ years away… there may even be a different editor by then!

When I first began to write Broun’s Reel, twenty-seven-and-a-bit years ago, we were a production team of three: I wrote it out by hand, Claire Bunton typed out what I’d written and arranged it, and then Rosemary re-typed it on to Roneo skins and printed it and distributed it. Massively expensive PCs became more available, changing our methods of production. I bought one myself, with a memory capacity now exceeded by the average calculator!  I used it to write Broun’s Reel, for Rosemary to reproduce and distribute – and then e-mail and the internet happened! Articles which I could just cut-and-paste into the newsletter. Rosemary’s production got easier for a while, too, until we changed the format and then I began to include photographs. Due to a variety of sources and technical apparatus, I now usually have to reformat material; the hunt for correct information is not always easy, either.

So you have read Broun’s Reel in rather scratchy Roneo productions to today’s clear print with photos, and much of the material also appears on the website. Most people still prefer to read Broun’s Reel in hard copy, but how many years will it be before we are sending it out electronically for you to read on your tablet? Maybe you will even project it from your phone onto the ceiling and read it in bed that way. Who know what the future will hold?  But please, keep reading, keep writing, and keep dancing.

Joyce Cochrane


In a recent Broun’s Reel editorial, Joyce compared Scottish Country dancing to Irish Step dancing. The latter is more akin to Highland dancing. A fairer comparison would have been with Irish Set dancing. If you have never tried it, why not give it a whirl. It is great fun and has lots of spins and turns.

It is always danced in square sets and unlike Scottish dancing that is most enjoyable if there is plenty of room, Irish Set dancing can be, and often is, danced in a restricted space such as a bar. Like Scottish dancing it has its own terminology - ‘house’ means polka round the set, while ‘home’ means spin for 8 bars in place, and ‘Christmas’ is like an English basket.

The dances don’t appear to have names but are known generally by the places from which they come. All have numerous figures which can be in different tempi, so the first might be a reel and the second a slip jig and so on. The dances are so strenuous that there is often a break between figures for drinks.

I always dance in soft shoes with a variation of skip change of step, but Jerry O’Reilly who runs a dance school in Dublin, wears ordinary lace up shoes and dances with a step very close to the floor with lots of taps and pick-ups. And he can go like the wind!

If you would like to give Irish Set dancing a try, Jerry will be taking daily workshops at the Whitby Folk Week which this year is from 19th to 25th August. You can pay as you go for individual workshops or why not make a week of it and get a season ticket which gives admission to every event - if you can survive the pace! Details on-line,

Enid Nunn, York  

My apologies to Enid for omitting this from the last Broun’s Reel. The information is obviously too late for this year’s Whitby Folk Week, but could help early planning for next year’s summer holiday. Or contact Enid if you can’t wait that long. She’s right: I’ve tried Irish Set Dancing and it is great fun. If you have seen Titanic, they dance the Kerry Square(?) in the steerage ceilidh – Joyce.


Last year Junior Summer School was introduced to the RSCDS Summer School in St Andrews and there were about 10 attendees.   This year there were twenty six 8 to 11 year olds attending not to mention the twenty five or so 12 to 16 year olds.   To me this proves that the young people do like Scottish Dancing.   There were many countries represented amongst these age groups, from the USA to Russia and Japan to Europe.   This all happened in Week 3 when there was a Musicians Course as well.   It was busy but buzzing!

As Malcolm is Convenor of Education and Training, he thought he ought to go to Summer School to see if there were any changes apart from Junior Summer School.   Duncan was teaching there this year so we all decided to go to Week 3.   This meant there were 6 of the Brown family there at the same time, as Duncan’s girls were attending Junior Summer School.   I volunteered to keep an eye on them in the afternoons if required.   I quite appreciated the quiet afternoons while Malcolm, Duncan and Laura were dashing hither and thither.   Duncan was teaching the Highland Class in the afternoons as well as Country Dancing in the mornings.   Laura was in the Country Dance Display and both she and Malcolm were in the Highland Dem.

I was a bit apprehensive attending class again after such a long break (12 years) but many of my old friends welcomed me back and we made new ones.   I was in the Low Impact Class which teaches technique, but not too strenuously, as we learnt the new dances out of Book 51.   We also did some of the more intricate dances from books that have recently been published by the RSCDS.   Malcolm attended the Teaching Skills class – I’m not sure if he learnt any new ones!   

The evening dances were usually busy and some of those teenage dancers are really good.   As the school was full that week, we sometimes had to leave the confines of University Hall to dance in a bigger hall in the town.   It was pouring with rain one night but we still went and danced with lots of different people whom we had never met before.   It’s interesting that the opening question is “What class are you in?” before asking “Where are you from?”    The Thursday dance in the Younger Hall was full – 5 lines of dancers each with at least 4 sets in and all of us enjoying ourselves.   The displays were excellent as was Duncan’s MCing (I might be biased here!) and the band (David Oswald’s) played well.    Our two elder granddaughters came for the evening and all four cousins danced together – a first.

As usual, the Ceilidh was on the Friday night with interesting “turns” by very talented people.   All 26 Junior dancers did a display and, considering some of them had done hardly any dancing before, they gave a polished performance and they all looked happy.   For the Saturday night dance in the Younger Hall, the music was provided by the Musicians Course members.  There were so many of them that they filled the stage and the sound was inspiring.   Again we had 5 lines and everyone looked as though they had benefitted from their week’s tuition.

I definitely think that Junior Summer School is well worthwhile.   Most of the young people have relatives who dance, either parents or grandparents but this may expand in future.   To be honest, I found it exhilarating to have so many young people around, on the dance floor, at the ceilidh and in the dining room, and always smiling.   An example to us all.

Malcolm kept busy in the afternoons as on the Friday, he was overseeing the recording of the new dances for YouTube – a lot of effort by all the three teams of dancers.   On the Saturday he was assessing the Advanced DAA (Dancing Achievement Award).   He enjoyed his week finding out how much had changed since he last attended but I think he came home for a rest!

                  Helen Brown, York



Nothing can be certain when planning a walk.  Jennifer in her usual efficient way took on the organising of this year’s Branch walk only to discover that Theresa May decided to call a General Election on that day so she asked me to stand in for her and lead the walk as she was required to be a Polling Clerk at the local polling station.

We had enjoyed some lovely sunny days at the beginning of June, but the few days preceding the walk were decidedly wet and the forecast for the day itself was for more rain. With this in mind and thinking of Jennifer sitting in a dry Polling Station, I arrived at Kirkbymoorside Golf Club wondering if anyone would be mad enough to want to walk or would take the easy, dry option and turn up later for the lunch. As 10 o’clock approached I feared that this would be the case but then people started to arrive, don waterproofs and boots, equip themselves with walking poles and  umbrella  so that finally 11 of us, plus dog, set off, determined that the British weather was not going to spoil our day.

The good company more than made up for the grey day and spirits remained high as we chatted our way round the walk returning to the Golf Club in nice time to join other fellow dancers and enjoy a delicious lunch. I think that we all were glad to have made the effort to turn out for the walk and felt justified to tuck into the generous portions served by the Golf Club. Altogether a successful day.

Sheila Barnes


What a lovely idea this was! Some of us even succeeded in turning up for the beginning of the dance but others were delayed by the thunder, lightning, torrential rain and floods on the A64. The opening dance was There and Back but those of us who had gingerly driven through a huge puddle near Huttons Ambo were doubtful whether we would indeed get back. However, the dance was lively enough to dry out wet skirts and kilts. I was amazed by how well and how soon the sodden pleats in the kilts of those who had to walk from the car park were restored to their former perfection.

This was called a beginners’ dance but there were plenty of experienced dancers there, and as every dance was walked through at least once the beginners had no difficulty and I’m sure were delighted by their first experience of a dance to live music. Robert Whitehead, our welcome musician, was admirably patient, and our two MCs, Sheila and Jennifer, provided excellent guidance. The programme was varied and interesting – and not all that simple, with plenty of scope for the exercise of memory. Especially memorable were the strawberries, with three – or was it four? – choices of cream, generously provided by the Pickering group.

I sincerely hope this might become a regular event, with (and of course I can’t resist a bit of doggerel):

Robert Whitehead smiling benignly

And, as ever, playing divinely.

Veronica Wallace, York


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


In July the branch sent a team again to the White Rose Festival at Gateways School, Harewood. For the first time in a few years I was able to get to a few rehearsals, and was fit enough, to be a member of the team. It was great to be back, and a fine day; dancing outdoors made all the difference! Many thanks to Lynne, who organised the team, and to George Edwards, who did a fantastic job training everyone. Douglas picked up an injury at the last practice, but made good use of his time there by taking photographs and filming everything for Anne Dawson – Anne has copies of a DVD if you are interested. Finally, well done to all those who took part!

For those who weren’t there, here is a selection of photos:


The Half-Day school this year is being held on Saturday October 7th at Stockton on Forest Village Hall; the class will be taught by Fiona Mackie, a young teacher from Dundee, with accompaniment from our old friend Pat Cass from Newcastle. The day school will run from 2 p.m. till 5.15 p.m., with a short refreshment break; the usual High Tea will follow. The class costs £12 for RSCDS members/£15 for non-members; High Tea is £6.

The Evening Dance will be held from 7.30 – 11.00, with music from the Alan Ross Trio. You are asked to bring contributions to a Faith Supper. Dance tickets are priced £12 (RSCDS members)/£15 (non-members); the full day carries a discount (£28 RSCDS/£32 non-RSCDS). The programme for the evening dance has been chosen by Chris Hare.


Leeds RSCDS and York & North Humberside RSCDS have been holding a Joint Ball now since 2007, organized alternately by each branch. This year is our branch’s turn; Tadcaster being unavailable, the ball will be held at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, on Saturday 11th November, beginning at 7.30 p.m. A supper will be provided, and the cost per ticket is £17 – please note that entrance is by ticket only. Music will come from Scott Band and his band, and the programme has been chosen by Helen Brown.


Our December dance, a.k.a. the alternative to Christmas shopping dance (unless you want to go shopping on Sunday morning) takes place on Sunday December 3rd, at Swanland Village Hall. It is the first of our winter afternoon dances of the season and begins at 2 p.m.  We will be dancing to the music of Ian Slater. Mince pies and fruit cake will be provided – you don’t need to bring any!

The programme has been drawn up by Nigel Bell.


BROUN'S REEL, our newsletter, is published four times a year and can normally be collected at the Branch Dances held in September, December, February and May.  Readers wishing to obtain Broun's Reel by post should send 4 (or more) first or second class stamps, together with a note of name and address, to Mrs. R. Robins, 90 Carr Lane, Willerby, Hull HU10 6JU.  Please don't also collect a further copy from the dances, or we might run short!

Editor:  Joyce Cochrane, 22 Newton Drive, Beverley,

  HU17 8NX.    (01482 - 871790)


Production: Rosemary Robins

Secretary: Helen Brown  01904 - 488084

York & North Humberside branch website:

Contact:  Rita Eastwood   (01904 - 413020) or

Copy date for next issue:     12th November 2017

Irish Set Dancing

St. Andrews 2017

Branch Walk 2017

Pickering Beginners

White Rose

Day School

Joint Ball

December Dance