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2014

Week 51 ... and the end of year Christmas party: Christmas Tree (Barlow), Christmas Tree (Skelton), Mrs Stewart's Jig, Lea Rig, Swiss Lassie, Raven's Dance, Sugar Candie, The Diamond Jubilee, Hooper's Jig, Reel of the Puffins, Neidpath Castle and last but not least, Montgomeries' Rant. Nice tea break with cakes and biscuits, and all evening we were dancing to Christmas music!

See you all in the New Year, folks... and Happy Hogmanay!


Week 50 Looking towards another event to travel to in 2015... It's Nae Bother, The Bartons' Reel and two dances from the upcoming Madrid 2015-Iberian SCD Weekend: Iberian Gathering and Rodney's Rant. Next up and closer to home, The Morrison Measure which is a standard in our group danced to the music for Captain McBeans' reel. (There is even a little known video of us dancing it which you may, or may not, be able to view depending on your IT set-up...). Lastly this evening, Granny's Reel... and while we are in the Scottish Country Dance Dictionary, lets see if there is anything new for Mairi's Wedding... hhhhmmm! Didn't know that and do check out all those variants, like this one Mairi's Hangover. Appropriate at this time of year!


Week 49 One-two-three-four, ONE-two-three-four... before loosening up in the Sausage Machine. Get those pas de basques in this next one though, None so Pretty...what was that about nuns? Back on track with Monica's Way and a Summer Meeting.


Week 48 Watson's Reel (Jig), The Lady in Red (Bk48 Jig. What a delightful video! How old are some of those lassies, tro?), Gin and Tonic (Medley) , Red Wine and Straight Lines (J32, S32, R32), Hope Little's Strathspey and Sunshine and Sweetie's Jig (Bk 48 and who mentioned Pandas!). We have just one more dance to do from book 48, Monica's Way, then we'll have completed it.

Some really good dances and videos, ikke sant? I'm having very real difficulties maintaining the strict anonymity policy in the blog though. Red Wine and Straight Lines (?!) and I can't resist mentioning that our teacher this week is appearing in both the Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. The club really is on a roll at the moment with these teachers. Even when none of them are actually present... like last week... their influence is really being felt. After some head scratching we really flew through those "unknown" dances. (Happy memories! Have a great time this weekend folks, and wish I could be with you.) However, lets take the opportunity to just enjoy watching those teachers of ours "in action" at St Andrew's. Here again are the Blooms of Bon Accord from last week (this time the whole YouTube video!) and The Fireworks Reel and The Golden Years from week 41. Thankfully though, Scottish dancing isn't just for experts. I also greatly enjoyed watching that video of Gin and Tonic this week... how the heck did those guys manage the "birls" in the reel part, and if I'm not very much mistaken there is another "kent" face in there...


Week 47 Member's evening with more dances from the Hopalots upcoming event: Burnieboozle, Black, Black Oil, Birks of Invermay (we needed a breather!), Caddam Wood, The Elephant's Stampede, Jean Martin of Aberdeen and Blooms of Bon Accord. A dark, cold Monday evening in November and we were flying...


Week 46 Fun doing the blog this week. Monday evening was very much focused on technique... with a good deal of laughter! Our first dance was The Frisky. Ausfi has told me that this video has been getting a lot of hits. While the demo team can flatter themselves with the "Good" critique on the Strathspey Server, I rather fear the Internet activity may have something to do with the name of the dance. (Try Googling "The Frisky" and hold onto your seat!) Apparently, our expert informed me, many of the old tunes did have rather risqué names, which brings us to our next dance which is on the Berlin programme: Come under my Plaidie. Not sure that title would be approved these days for a book of children's dances, but don't let that stop you watching the whole 8 minutes of the Italian demo on Youtube. (Click on the Youtube icon under the Strathspey Server clip).

We warmed-up after the break with a variant of the Boston Urban Ceilidh Dance. Maybe this will encourage those members of the group (I know of at least one!) who have a fiddle in the loft to get them down; an online tutorial with Hanneke Cassel.

The little grey cells also got a bit of a workout this week with the last dance of the evening Paddy Baa. This is also on the Berlin programme, however, we found an error in the diagram. We could have done with a really good video to work that one out, but it doesn't exist... yet! Hello Hopalots :-)


Week 45 Hhhhmmm... upgrading going on at the Strathspey Server! Dances this week: Kendall's Hornpipe, Tri-Mariner, Farewell to Helensburgh, Macleod's Wedding, Reel of Five, Argyll's Fancy and Duke of Perth. Anybody else having difficulty streaming videos? This may be the death knell for my old steam-powered pc...


Week 44 Monthly member's evening and the dances we brought were: Iain's Obsession, Spey in Spate, Glens of Angus, Mrs Milne of Kinneff, Reel of the Puffins, Blooms of Bon Accord and The Irish Rover.


18th October 2014

Week 43 Following the club's 45th anniversary dinner-dance on Saturday, a splendid turn-out on Monday evening for more celebratory dancing with cake, two birthdays and the J team: Music Makars, Minister on the Mississippi, Mairi's Wedding, Reel of the Puffins, Snow on the Mountain and Bonnie Charlie.


Week 42 Three more dances from Book 48 and a couple from our upcoming "do"... Joie de Vivre, City of Belfast, Macleod's Wedding (Wow, get that diagram!!!), Newburgh Jig and Seann Truibhas Willichan. Evening topped-off with a second helping of Cranberry Tart.


Week 41 Hot from the RSCDS presses, we danced The Rutland Reel, Rougemont Castle and A Summer Meeting from the new Book 48. Sorry to have missed other dances from this book a couple of weeks ago: The Golden Years, The Fireworks Reel and Rye Twist. (Look really closely at all these videos... see or hear anyone you recognise?) I also managed to miss that same week Shetland Shepherdess which is now featured in another recent RSCDS publication the Third Book of Graded Scottish Country Dances. Gosh, that is worthy of a news flash! While I'm tooting a trumpet for the RSCDS (and us!), I see that previous editions of their magazine are now available on the Internet. At this point, I'll shut up... except to mention the three other good quirky dances we did this week Malcolm's Choices, Leap Year and the delightful Cranberry Tart.


Weeks 37-39 were time-out for the blogger, but week 40 and our monthly members' evening with Kingston Jig, Flirtation Hornpipe, Lady Mary Douglas, Kobberhaughytta (full instructions here for this excellent "local" dance with the permission of the deviser... thank you!), Portnacraig, The Ladies of Berkeau, McGregor's Leap and Caddam Wood... I'm back!


Week 23 Quickly linking to the dances for the upcoming summer party for those who like a wee bit of preparation. Follow the tabs for both videos and cribs... Ski 'n' do, Dunedin festival dance , A trip to Bavaria , 12 Coates Crescent , Easy Peasy, Ian Powrie's farewell to Auchterarder, The Black Squirrel, Shiftin' Bobbins, Best set in the hall, Cate's conundrum, Bees of Maggieknockater, Final Fling and extras Reel of the Royal Scots, Schiehallion and Mairi's Wedding. In haste, I'm off to the beach!

Well, what a splendid Monday evening! With an expert "master of ceremonies", we proudly danced through the whole programme right down to the Final Fling (plus one of the extras!) after a veritable feast.

Happy Summer and back again in August...


Week 22 Nearing the end of the season and preparing dances for those taking part in the RSCDS summer school in St Andrews and the upcoming Musikk Fest in Egertorget... Highland Reel (not a good video for learning, but follow tab at top to "Crib/Diagram"), Anderson's Rant, Trip to Bavaria, MacPherson's Jig, Argyll Strathspey and Eileen Watt's Reel.


Week 21 Full pot with videos this week, but I live in hope for a good video (with music!) for that last one... Easy Peasy, John of Bon Accord , Linnea's Strathspey, Bill Clement MBE, Orwell Lodge, MacPherson's Jig and Sleepy Maggie.


Week 20 Bring-your-own-dance evening this week and a very welcome visit from one of the founders of our club was the perfect opportunity to have a go at a dance the blogger has always wanted to do, Schiehallion. You'll see why when you check out the great videos... especially number four! This is definitely a dance to come back to time and time again for polish, finesse and timing. We have three CDs in the box with the music but found this recording by the Craigellachie Band the best, even though it doesn't have the traditional "Duke of Edinburgh" tune.

Otherwise, lots of good dances and music this evening and its funny, but that also means that there seem to be lots of good videos: Festival Interceltique, Jean Martin of Aberdeen, Flowers of Edinburgh, JB Milne, Miss Johnstone of Ardrossan and Sleepy Maggie. (Can't understand why that last one doesn't have a good video... see week 13)

Further to another bleat of mine a week or two ago about good dances that don't ever reach the light of day (week 5), I learnt from our teacher last week that there is indeed a website where new dances can be posted and receive feedback. Note the new link to the dance Janice we did last week. The website is Eight by Thirty-Two. Check it out, and perhaps we should get some of our stuff out there.

Rather than finishing on a bleat, if you have eight minutes to spare do check out one last YouTube of Schiehallion which isn't on the Strathspey server... but should be. Quality of dancing? Amazing... given the footwear, and get that setting! Aaaah, Scottish summer...


Week 19 We are truly blessed with good teachers at the moment and on Monday the class was taken by Lara Friedman-Shedlov. She has given the blogger permission to put the list of dances and some background in the blog, so here they are in Lara's words... thank you, Lara and I'll see what links I can find.

Rice and Lefse... gerrit? :-)


Week 18 Leap Year (Curving into those hands across, arms up on bar 1 and 5, down on bars 4 and 7... yes, I was at the FUNdamentals!), The Bellringer (No luck tracking down this dance, but this is the music we danced it to The Whale's Moo. Its a good tune, and yes they do bark, chirp, squeak and grunt as well!), Loch Doon Castle (Where are my counters to check where I should be at the end of that reel of 5?), Hunter's moon with the delightfully twiddly La Baratte, Widdershins of Bothwell with that circle to the right and last, but definitely not least, Hamilton Rant. Now, I know why we were doing those travelling pas-de-basques with those tricky turns in the FUndamentals session... wha hae!


Week 15 AGM this week and I'm happy to report the only "ranting" was at the end when we had enough time to take to the floor for Anderson's Rant and The Montgomeries' Rant. Bearing in mind the discussion at the meeting about encouraging our younger members, can't resist putting in this video I came over of another "rant", The Hamilton Rant. Good Easter, folks!


Week 14 FUNdamentals this week with focus on Strathspey steps so sit back, rest those legs, and enjoy this video... Butterscotch and Honey. Onwards, Two by Two... sometimes, I just love it when the Strathspey server has nothing to offer... but on your toes now for Linkumdoddie. We were close, and this definitely needs to be tried again, but I do wonder if this one may be cursed for all time by Willie's wife! Other dances this week were The Golden Pheasant, Altshellach and a rollicking, new-for-me reel, Anderson's rant.


Week 13 Concentrating on reels and set and link for 3 this week, we did a ceilidh practice dance with some nifty sideways shuffling followed by Maxwell's Rant, Gang the same gate, Rodney's Rant, Immigrant Lass and Sleepy Maggie. Hey, its almost a crime to put that one out without the music...


Weeks 11 and 12 The blogger is back! So here are the last two weeks... Cate's Conundrum (No video for this one yet, but we are not the only ones to have used James' music for other popular 3-couple Strathspeys which don't have such good tunes. Now we have the real dance to go with the music and its a good one too!), Fugal Fergus, The Ambassador's Reel, Welcome to Ayr, MacDonald of the Isles (Yes, it's Mara Shea and Dave Wiesler. One beef I have with the videos on the Strathspey Server is that they don't credit the musicians), A Capital Jig, My friend Joe, Miss Muriel Johnstone's Jig and General Stuart's Reel.


Week 10 Pre-class FUNdamentals this week with stepping up and down and double triangles on the agenda. Found out I was one of those who cross over before taking that first step up or down... uff da, but never too late to learn! Now for the dances: firstly one of our teacher's own off-the-cuff, warm-up compilations, was followed by Jennifer's Jig, The Question (a wonderfully twirly square set 5X32 Strathspey, which fitted beautifully to the New Approach music), Earlstoun Loch, Jeannie O'The Witchin' E'e, Engine Room and Irish Rover. Several of the dances we are doing on Mondays at the moment are from the upcoming Paris ball programme which a few folk in our group will be attending.

Hey, I've got a fan in Vienna! Thank you for getting in touch and reminding me of that Runrig Engine Room video I linked to last year. This will also tickle one of our members who was "mimring" the other day about The White Heather club... maybe I shouldn't be encouraged...


Week 9 Very special guests this week from the UK and Berlin. We were honoured that Alex and Kate Gray took the class and indeed, the Gray family provided all the dances and music: Ski 'n Do, Alison's Round Reel (Tweeddale 2), Cate's conundrum(Tweeddale 4), Inveresk House(Tweeddale 4) and Miss Becky Flower(Tweeddale 2). The first dance, Ski'n Do, is an unpublished, round-the-room starter dance specially written by Alex for an event which was recently held at Kobberhaughytta outside Oslo. The Tweeddale dance books can all be ordered from the RSCDS South Wales Branch and CDs from James Gray.


Week 8 A good mix of well-known and less well-known dances this week at our monthly bring-your-own-dance evening: Wild Geese, The Certificate Dance, J. B. Milne, Cate's Conundrum, Northern Lights, Arctic Circle and, as I linked to lots of RSCDS info about this dance last week, here's the 1912 film of the original Pelorus Jack. Snowdrops have been spotted up in Lambertseter!

Lambertseter snowdrops


Week 7 Ah! The music... Circassian Circle, Pelorus Jack, A New Approach, Hooper's Jig, The Montgomeries' Rant... and the dance!


Week 6 Hhhhmmm... some good thought provoking videos this week. This is the dance we started with, Opera Reel and here's the crib. I'm appreciating the history, Dancing Master! Via Barcelona with 20 candles for Iberia, we are back in Oslo... or is it Skye via Schehallion... óle... for a repeat of Staffin Harvest, and the intriguing three couple Osborne Percentage. (Now there has to be a good story behind that title.) Good music too this week with King Edward's Jig and Polharrow Burn... but do check out a rollicking version of this last dance and read the comments underneath. Scottish Country Dancing can truly be "mangt og mye"...


Week 5 As always, a wonderful Burns Supper on Saturday to lighten our dark Oslo January. Thank you all who make it possible, especially the organisers, our musicians James Gray and Sarah-Jane Summers and our indomitable kitchen brigade. Good turn out on Monday evening too, with a well attended basics session first. These occasional "FUNdamentals" sessions are strongly recommended, even if you have been dancing for a while. It was bring-your-own-dance-evening afterwards and the war horses were definitely out of their corner leading the charge into The Road to the Border, OSCDG , The Judge's Jig, (no videos or cribs for these two), Highland Rambler and Buchan's Country. Lovely to have you back guys, but all praise to our several new members who are managing to hang in there... albeit sometimes hanging upside down by their stirrups. Trust me... its worth it! Looking for the dances this week it occurred to me how important it is for a new dance to have a web presence. There are lots of good dances like OSCDG and the Judge's Jig out there which fall below the radar because their details just aren't easily available. I seem to be in praise mode this morning... so hats off too to the Strathspey Server. And yes, those of you abroad, who follow this blog... we do now have wonderful snow in the Marka. By jove, that lightens January even more than SCD!


Week 4 Last rehearsal for the upcoming Burns Supper... Sheena's Saunter, Gay Gordons, Ways in New Hall, Flowers of Edinburgh and The Byron Strathspey. A wee reminder that the other Strathspey on the programme Memories of Mary Ann is in fact the trickier of the two... so do take a peek at that crib again. Let's dance!


Week 3 An interesting start this week with Jack's Maggot. Oh, us uncouth Scots! A "maggot" turns out to be a venerable Country Dance. Off on a tangent here, I couldn't help wondering just what Burns might have danced? That's exactly his period. He was known to be a fine dancer and no doubt graced the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh when he was there. There is lots on the Strathspey Server, but I liked this brief article and just let my fantasy roam free.

Onward with the Dundee City Police Jig, Staffin Harvest, The Triumph and hot off the presses and no videos yet for the last two... Memories of Mary Ann and The Jelly Roll.

Apropos Burns, I hope everyone now has the minicrib for the Burns supper and I've also had a request for a basic footwork video. You'll find lots more to keep you busy in the Scottish Dancing Dictionary.


Week 2 Well.. into 2014 and the blog's third year! This week our teachers had to put up with some particularily sluggish, post-Christmas foot soldiers, but with the help of some great music we got through... The Architect, Three's the Charm, Byron Strathspey, Never at Sea ("Always at Sea" might be a better name after my efforts on that one this evening!) and the Pinewoods Reel. Very nice to see brave new recruits enthusiastically hanging in there right to the end, cracking The Pinewoods reel after 10 o'clock. A few old very welcome war horses pawed the dust and cheered us on from the corners too... you know who you are folks!


Click here for last year's blog or go back to top of blog