I've been thinking about this older email:
> I didn't dance.. couldn't dance.. wouldn't dance before
> reaching the age of
> 50-ish. My involvement stemmed from a rather unique "Ceilidh
> -Nightclub" in
> Glasgow called "The Riverside" and I know of no parallel
> anywhere worldwide.
> This is a venue where mostly young people [students etc] go
> to dance to
> exceptional bands and really let their hair down. The
> amazing fact to me
> was that there were many other older people present, but no
> indication of
> rejection by the younger set.
Sounds like the evening dances at the Spring Fling. It's mainly
young folk with older people going along.
> The band [Cutting Edge] played
> such great
> music that I felt compelled to get up and try a bit. The
> fact that their
> itinerary included sudden changes to Samba, silence, etc
> increased the
> fascination. Of course, as soon as I was spotted on the
> floor, my wife set
> wheels in motion to get me to Ceilidh classes, which expanded
> into Country
> Dancing classes. I never felt the slightest bit unwelcome at either,
Right, so the RSCDS was NOT unwelcoming.
> however, come the day we made our debut at a real [RSCDS]
> Scottish Country
> Dance, we had to face the prospect of about fifteen dances,
> most of which we
> had never danced before, and none of which were re-capped.
So the problem is NOT that you found them unwelcoming, but that
the first event you attended was not set up to be easy for
beginners. 10 years ago you might have found an Edinburgh branch
social equally intimidating. However about 6-8 years ago we
introduced recaps at the socials specifically to make them more
accessible for less experienced dancers. We also have a specific
"Beginners Dance" which has a programme of simple dances and have
the whole evening set up to make it a good introduction for the
SCD is different to ceilidh dancing. You can't go along to a
typical SCD dance and expect to be able to manage without having
at least a term or two of lessons.
This is BECAUSE there is a lot more scope in SCD. I know of
maybe 50 dances done at ceilidhs (and I'm including rarer dances
that I seek out because I do ceilidh calling; the standard
repertoire is probably nearer a dozen). Most adults who grew up
in Scotland learnt the most common dances at school, giving an
instant base of people who know.
In comparison, Alan Paterson has over 13,000 SCD dances in his
database. There are defined standards for steps, and I do enjoy
striving to perfect my technique. (I don't insist on it for
others, and my wife and I take week about to attend a social
group where technique and ability levels vary widely and many
of the people there are happy to get by with just enough technique
to get round the dances).
If ceilidh dancing was all there was, I wouldn't still be attending
a weekly class. I wouldn't even be dancing regularly. I do attend
the occasional ceilidh and enjoy it for a change, but week in, week
out, year after year? I'd get bored. SCD on the other hand has
enough to it that I can continue learning and enjoying and improving
all my life. And it has sufficient variety that a typical programme
will have dances on it that I can do with little thought, other
dances that I think "oh yes - I'd forgotten about that dance,
haven't danced it in ages", other dances that provide an
interesting new twist, other dances that are well known but new to
me, dances I've heard about but never danced, etc.
To convert our SCD dancers to be such lowest-common-denominator
events that Joe Bloggs off the street could get through an evening
would be to lose a lot of what makes SCD special.
And I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to make events as accessible
as possible. Obviously we should. Hence the introduction of recaps.
Hence special beginners dances. Hence publishing programmes and
sending out crib sheets in advance. New Scotland run a practice
session for their ball so that beginners can get a chance to learn
the dances beforehand. There are always ways to improve. But we
also need to cater for the experienced dancers who want something
BTW, is running a "beginners dance" discriminatory? It is targeted
at a specific market segment in just the same way as Spring Fling.