Volume 25 #3
The Scottish Country Dancer
November/December 2008

Articles in This Issue
The Brief Workshop and Ball, Redmond, Oregon
Manager's Message What to Wear
Teacher's Notes Wee Tid-Bits
October 2 2 2 Dance Calendar of Events
The Brief

Here are a few of the many activities coming up the next couple of months:

  • Dec 27, Our Betwixt-n-Between Dance between Christmas and New Years. But if you can't wait that long...
  • Nov 15, the next Portland RSCDS monthly dance, with live music!, and
  • Dec 13, Portland's December Holiday Party.

For more information on these events, see the articles below and/or the Calendar.

And remember to sign up for the next session of classes -- yes, it's that time again! (Another example that time flies when you're having fun.)

Manager's Message
by Linda Mae Dennis

Well, let's see - what is going on in the land of Scottish Country Dancing?

The Fall Dance was great fun. Of course, that is NOT news to anyone who was there. And we're looking forward to the Betwixt and Between Ceilidh. I hope everyone is working diligently on their ceilidh acts, be they hilarious, uplifting, silly, or just plain fun.

I guess the thing that is most on my manager's mind, though, is our Branch status. We have approval from RSCDS Headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, and can declare ourselves the Southwest Washington State Branch (although we will probably remain the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers for a while longer - at least until we complete Step 2). Congratulations and high-fives all round! We have completed Step 1! Obviously, the next question is "Now what?"

I think that would have to be Step 2: Apply for 501(c)(3) Federal Non-profit Status. (I guess I had better buy a ream of paper and start printing out that application!)

Once that is complete, we can fully address the question of how we get from Here to There. There will be a Management Meeting on Sunday November 9th (1:00pm at my house if anyone wants to attend) to discuss the possibilities.

So, as a group I guess we're entering our adolescence. We're growing up and expanding outward. An exciting and turbulent time - just the way we like it! And a great time to recruit new dancers.

Teacher's Notes
by Geri Stuart

Your teachers are busy finding dances to teach and preparing fun events to come. You can help by inviting others, friends, family, co-workers, and strangers (in the salon, post office, grocery store, doctors office) to give it a try and keep our classes going.

Another opportunity is helping with the events - step right up and see what fun it can be! Get the details and be prepared before the others! Your participation in more than just the classes is greatly needed and much appreciated. There are people who will help mentor as well as have lists of things that need to be done.

During this time of transition to a branch we will need all the help we can get to keep things running smoothly while still enjoying ourselves. Knowing that you will step up, the teachers thank you from the bottom of their hearts (and feet!)! Keep dancing!

October 2 2 2 Dance
by John Shaw and Cynthia Soohoo
From John Shaw:

At our Fall Dance on October 18th there was a palpable atmosphere of camaraderie and fun, of anticipation and discovery. Who will be there? How will they have addressed the unusual theme of "2 2 2" (or 222, the favorite number of Tom Halpenny, the Dance Chair)? What magic are the musicians about to share with us? What treats are we going to get to eat? (Oh, did I say that out loud?)

Well, the dance was well attended, with students from just about all the local Scottish Country Dance classes, and dancers from Vancouver, Kelso, Portland, and even Bend! It was fun to see again so many dancing friends from near and far, and gratifying to see quite a number of newer dancers present, too.

LindaMae and Maureen, with 2 of everything

There was certainly a wide variety of attire. Some dressed as, well, Scottish dancers -- something you don't usually do in class, to be sure. Others went with the more seasonal Halloween theme. Several, however, met the "2 2 2" challenge head on, from Van's relay team runner number 222, to couples who dressed as twins, to dancers who donned 2 of every garment. My, what that did for the conviviality of the occassion!

Moving us along

The musicians that evening were Cynthia Soohoo (piano), Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui (fiddle) and Alex Soohoo-Hui (fiddle and occarina!), and Martin MacKenzie (base guitar). The music they presented was bright, crisp, and moved us dancers along, oh so beautifully. And the inclusion of the occarina was a very delightful surprise!

And during the "tea" at the end of the dancing was another very pleasant surprise: Jennifer Pratt-Walter playing her Celtic harp. A wonderful way to end the evening, winding down to the ethereal sounds of the celtic harp, in the presence of friends, sharing the after-glow of dancing to beautiful music, while nibbling on little tea-snacks. No, it doesn't get much better.

From Cynthia Soohoo

As a musician for the dance party, mine was the pleasure of spending time immersed in so much captivating music. A unique facet of playing for dancing, however, is much more than personally enjoying the music or replacing a CD player: it is interacting with the dancers themselves in creating the dance, a fleeting artistic expression that exists only in a few moments of time. If the music gives rise to spontaneous collective verbal responses, if it moves the dancers to give in to the rhythm and clap, or if it inspires the strathspeying to become a little more elegant, we musicians feel deeply gratified artistically to have played a creative role in the art of the dance. That's something that doesn't happen in a rehearsal room, no matter how beautiful the music!

Workshop and Ball, Redmond, Oregon
by John Shaw
Liza demoing
Celtic on-tap

This past month, two of our Vancouver USA teachers participated in (that is, taught at!) the weekend workshop at the annual Workshop and Ball of the High Desert Celtic Country Dancers, in Redmond, Oregon. On Saturday October 11th, Liza Halpenny taught beginner, intermediate, and mixed sessions of her first all-day SCD workshop. And the next day, following the Sunday Brunch, LindaMae Dennis led a class of adventurers on a whirlwind tour of Celtic tap dancing. Both teachers were very well received by the attendees!

Several dancers from the Vancouver/Portland area made the trek over the Pass and round to Redmond that weekend to attend the workshop. It was a very pleasant trip, with beautiful and striking scenery the whole way: the vine maples were at various stages of their fall color, depending upon the altitude; there had been a light dusting of snow a day or so before, so the firs were outfitted in white and light green sweaters, appropriate for the cool weather; and a stop at the Crooked River (High) Bridge, over the Crooked River Gorge, produced a fair number of gasps as folks stretched their legs and gingerly observed the sheer rock walls of the gorge, all the way down to the river, 300 (yes, three hundred) feet below.

The scenery, the dancing, the camaraderie -- all make this a worthwhile and fun journey to make.

What to Wear

[exerpted from the San Francisco Branch Members' handbook, by way of the Ghillie Gazette]

These are worth a read even if you think you know. They are general guidelines, and you will see exceptions.

For Classes

Women are requested to wear flared skirts or dresses, which are customary. A straight skirt could impede the execution of some of the common dance steps, such as pas de basque. Slacks or jeans are not traditionally worn by women. Leg warmers are often worn. Men can wear slacks, walking shorts, or kilts. Shoes should be soft-soled and flexible, such as ghillies, soft pumps, slippers, or tennis shoes. Hard-soled shoes will make it awkward for you to learn proper footwork.

For Monthly Parties

Women tend to dress up a little more than they would for a weekly class, with a pretty dress or a dressier blouse and flared skirt. Men should wear kilts if possible, or stylish slacks.

For Balls

A Ball is a Special Evant and the atmosphere is part of the fun. Women wear ball gowns, formal gowns, flared cocktail dresses, or long tartan skirts with dressy blouses. Some ladies wear tartan sashes, often with folded rosettes and decorative pins on the shoulder (see below). RSCDS dancers customarily wear sashes over the left shoulder. Very short skirts are not appropriate. Men wear kilts, Prince Charlie coatees, vests, bow ties, ruffled or pleated dress shirts, evening sporrans, kilt hose -- whatever makes them feel most Scottish or Celtic-compatible.

Vigorous dancing will quickly warm you up, so for comfort you may want to avoid high necklines or long sleeves.

A Note About Frangrances

Please be aware that you will be in close contact with others who may have allergies and sensitivities. For their sakes, please consider using only unscented products before a dance event.

Wee Tid-Bits
by Van Meter Hord

In a November 1931 Nashville, Tennessee article about George Blackie, reference was made to his uncle, John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895) - (professor at the University of Edinburgh) who "was associated with various educational, social, and political movements in Scotland." The Curator of the Edinburgh Museum related this about the professor to the reporter: "Prof. Blackie posted a notice on the door of his classroom, reading: 'Prof. Blackie will meet his classes at 10:30 a.m.' The letter 'c' in the word 'classes' was stricken out by some of the boys, but the professor went them one better and also struck out the letter 'l'."

[George F. Blackie was Van's great-grandfather. The article was about his becoming chief engineer for Dixie Line. As Van explains, "Like most things southern, one's family background is almost as important as one's own; therefore this article mentioned his uncle (the professor), father (doctor/teacher) and even two great-great-grandfathers." It appears that Prof. John S. Blackie was a rather flamboyant man, even something of a radical. Check out this Wikepedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Blackie As Van said, "When my mom showed me the magazine, we both smiled over Prof. Blackie's humor." -ed.]


Calendar of Events

Nov 15: Portland Monthly Dance Party
Live Music! by the Scottish Rose
Tigard Grange 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard
7:30 PM, $14 at the door

The Program:
    The Highland Fair     BJ  Graded Bk
    The Flourish          IS  Measure's of Pleasure
    The Honeymoon         BR  Graded Bk
    Fugal Furgus          IJ  Three for 2007
    Muse Cottage          BS  Let's All Dance, Too
    The Summer Assembly   IR  RSCDS Bk 35

    St. Andrew's Fair     BJ  Five SCD 1982
    Invercauld's Reel     IS  RSCDS Bk 11
    The White Cockade     BR  RSCDS Bk 5
    Girl in Green         IJ  Whetherly Bk 17
    Winstanley House      BS  Let's All Dance, Too
    Bauldy Bain's Fiddle  IR  Lothian Col.
Dec 13: Portland Holiday Party
Tigard Grange, 7:30 PM. $7
The Program:
    St. Andrew's Fair     BJ  Five SCD 1982
    The Flourish          IS  Measure's of Pleasure
    The White Cockade     BR  RSCDS Bk 5
    Fugal Furgus          IJ  Three for 2007
    Gramachie             BS  MMMI
    Let's Have a Ceilidh  IR
    Sassenach's Pleasure  IJ  Cameo Col. Bk 1
    Winstanley House      BS  Let's All Dance, Too
    Bauldy Bain's Fiddle  IR  Lothian Col.
    Gloria's Wee Jig      BJ  Devil's Quandry
    John McAlpin          IS  Three for 2007
    Abernethy Lassies     BR  MMMI
Dec 27: Vancouver Betwixt and Between Dance
Watch for details as they emerge.
Jan 10, 2009: Portland Holiday Party
Tigard Grange, 7:30 PM.
Feb 21: Folk Dance Potpourri
A great fun way to sample the folk dance traditions of many cultures. Instruction will be provided, no partner necessary. Soft-soled shoes recommended.
Save the date. Details are being worked out, so keep checking back.
Apr 4: Tartan Day / Scottish Afternoon
Watch for details as they emerge.
Apr 25: 24th Annual Dinner Dance
Save the date! (Note: this is the new date.) More info to come, so keep checking back.
Mar 14: Portland 30th Anniversary Workshop and Ball
Musicians: Calum McKinnon fiddle, and Muriel Johnstone piano.
Keep checking back for more details!

Upon touring his room at an old Scottish inn, the English traveler observed the moisture fairly dripping from the walls. He exclaimed to the landlady, "My good woman, if I sleep here I'll have bursitis in the morning!" She retorted, "You will not -- you'll have cornflakes, like the rest of 'em!"

  Do you have an item of Celtic interest you would like to see in print?  
  You can contact me in any of the following ways:  
  By mail:  
  John Shaw
  PO Box 2438
  Battle Ground, WA 98604
  By email:  
  The Scottish Country Dancer is a bi-monthly publication of the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers, a non-profit educational organization. For changes of address, please contact John Shaw, PO Box 2438 Battle Ground, WA 98604, . The editor reserves the right to alter or edit any material submitted for publication for reasons of taste, style, or clarity. All materials for publication should be sent by email to the editor at the address above, preferably in straight text. Deadline is one week before the end of the month prior to publication date. Editors of other newsletters may use or adapt any materials in the Scottish Country Dancer unless a specific copyright notice is included. Please credit author and original source.
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