|Volume 38 #2||September/October 2021|
Say goodbye to a very good frien'; And when she dances, she loves to spin. She's moving near Dallas, Not Buckingham Palace. We wish she would stay in Or-e-gen!
A new Social Dancing Brief Only in-person Scottish dance class will begin Tuesday, September 7, 2:00 pm at the Vancouver Officers Row Gazebo, 1125 E Evergreen Blvd. The class will be led by a non-teacher dancer. Admission will be free while the class meets outdoors.
The in-person dance class will continue with the dancing fun we had online during 2020-21. As we did for the online class, dancers will learn the dances before coming to class with the aid of Danciemaetion videos plus cribs and diagrams. Dance class programs will revisit dances for a balance of familiarity and variety. Each dance is briefed as a reminder before dancing. We will practice our teamwork skills of phrasing, covering, and recovery from mistakes.
The Vancouver Officers Row Gazebo has good ventilation with steady fresh airflow and a flexible floor. The class will likely be held outdoors during September and October with pleasant afternoon weather, then transition to online, and eventually return to in-person when conditions are favorable for an indoor Scottish dance class. It will operate under the SWWS Branch COVID-19 safety policy that is in effect at the current time of the class.
The SWWS Branch will comply with the Washington State health requirements that are in effect at the time of the dance classes. The Washington Ready plan, effective June 30, 2021, removed the physical distancing restriction, which permits resuming Scottish dancing. The Face Coverings - Statewide health order provides guidance for wearing masks indoors and outdoors.
The August Branch board meeting discussed a COVID-19 safety policy associated with resuming Scottish dance classes and dances. Dancing indoors requires everyone to wear a mask, effective August 23, 2021 according to the Washington State mask mandate. The consensus is that breathing while aerobic dancing is challenging while wearing a mask. So indoor classes and dances are suspended for the time being.
The Washington State mask mandate permits dancing outdoors without a mask. So dance classes may proceed outdoors during September and October with pleasant afternoon weather. Dancers are not required to be fully vaccinated at this time for outdoor dancing. We have identified an outdoor venue at the Vancouver Officers Row Gazebo which has good ventilation with steady fresh airflow and a flexible floor.
We dancers are encouraged to take precautions to stay safe. The following text from the current Face Coverings - Statewide health order states the exemption for outdoor gatherings: "People are not required to wear face coverings in any of the following situations:
The Branch board will re-evaluate the SWWS Branch COVID-19 safety policy to stay current with State policy and to determine when conditions are favorable for an indoor Scottish dance class. The policy will be kept updated on the Branch website.
Tom Halpenny has volunteered to be the SWWS Branch COVID-19 point person. He will research government regulations and guidelines, communicate the current SWWS Branch COVID-19 safety policy to dancers, and research answers to your questions. You can contact Tom by email at or by phone at 360-887-1888.
[This item is reprinted from the January/February 2012 issue of The Scottish Country Dancer. ~Ed]
If someone had told me a little over a year ago I would be involved in Scottish Country dancing my response would have been incredulous laughter. My dancing experiences consisted of a best forgotten year long stint as a seven year old ballerina and an occasional swing dance routine with college friends. So when my Mom, who lives 1,700 miles away, but gets the local Lake Oswego paper, told me about an ad she had seen for a Scottish Country dance class practically in my backyard, my response was the typical "whatever" eye roll. I made a concerted effort to "forget" about the class. But as summer drew to a close and some of my other outdoor activities were winding up, I decided to give it a try. After all, it was free the first time and if, and I was sure when, I found Scottish dancing wasn't my thing, I wasn't out any money and I could say I had tried it.
Except it didn't quite work out that way. I don't remember a lot about that first class, except no one else was in running shoes. But that didn't seem to matter. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and eager to help those of us who were new. We did a few simple dances, and it dawned on me that this was a lot of fun, not to mention great exercise that didn't involve being out in the rain. Plus, there was this terrific music to listen to and almost be part of. The only downside to all this fun was having to admit to my Mom that she was right, something she won't let me forget. But now the ghillie is on the other foot and she is the one rolling her eyes when I go dancing multiple times a week, plan my vacation return flight around the monthly dance in Lake Oswego, and walk to workshops wearing running shoes and a skirt.
[This article was originally published in the November/December 2012 issue of The Scottish Country Dancer. ~Ed.]
Trips to places like Ft. Worden are in themselves rather like a favorite dance; you know what to expect but there are still surprises along the way and you never get tired of them. Such was the case this year with Ft. Worden 2012. John and Susan Shaw, Linda Mae, and I left mid-morning on Friday to give ourselves plenty of time to meander along back roads and small towns before rejoining I-5 near Centralia. It was a welcome break from highway traffic and a chance to see some different scenery. We arrived in Port Townsend in the late afternoon and after a quick trip to the grocery store, where we saw at least one other dancer, headed to the fair grounds and then on to Officers Row. Linda Mae and I joined Marge, Geri, Ross and Kay Morrison, and Laura Hammond in "our house," while the Shaws were next door. The weather was perfect and there was plenty of time to enjoy it before leaving for the Welcome dance.
The music on Friday was provided by Elke Baker and Lisa Scott. The room was soon filled with happy dancers as we made our way through new dances and old favorites (Da Rain Dancin' being chief among the favorites). After the dance, it was time for the ceilidh. There were several great acts but one that really stood out was a duet by a fiddler and a guitarist. That was a new combination for me, but it was very well done and when they did a second piece with Muriel Johnstone, it was a real treat.
Morning came soon enough (along with a beautiful sunrise) and it was soon time for the first class. There was some last minute scampering but everyone made it to the first session in time. The teachers this year were Muriel Johnstone, Ron Wallace, Gordon Robinson, and Linda Henderson. John, Geri, and I took Muriel Johnstone's class on why some dances survive and others don't, what part the music plays (no pun intended) in whether or not a dance is popular, and how the music has changed over time. We did a number of dances with well known lead tunes to different tunes as well as strathspeys in jig time to get a better understanding of what makes a dance either last for centuries or never make its way onto a ball program.
Next on the agenda was the Highland Step class with Linda Henderson. Linda Mae joined John and me and soon Linda was demonstrating the steps we would need to learn in order to dance The Falls of Shin, a demonstration dance first performed at a Highland Games in California. We were separated into lines of three dancers across with the pattern taking up roughly a large square in the room. There were about five to six lines of three and we must have looked like so many squiggles as we jumped, set, and skip changed to the tunes of Sleepy Maggie and Tail Toddle. It was quite a challenge but very fun to learn.
After that it was lunch time and a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather. After lunch, Linda Mae and I were in Gordon Robinson's class called Way Out West. He focused on dances with unique figures that were created by west coast (that includes the western part of Canada) devisers. Tim Wilson's chaperon chain progression and a dance devised by Richard Bennett (who was in the class), with a continuous half reel, were two of the figures on the menu.
We had a few hours for this and that after class and it was spent either exploring up above the fort (we now believe the brochure that says there are 10 miles of trails nearby), walking along the beach, or just relaxing. Soon it was time for the ball and before we knew it, we were getting ready for the Grand March. Elke Baker and Lisa Scott were joined by Calum MacKinnon. The music had been wonderful the previous evening, and the addition of Calum raised the energy level another notch. The last dance was The Montgomeries' Rant and anyone who had been too tired to be on the floor for previous dances seemed to have renewed energy when the music started to play.
Sunday morning came all too quickly. We packed up the car and headed back to the hall to turn in keys, buy CDs and, of course, do some more dancing. The four of us stayed for most of the Sunday session before heading home with a stop for a picnic lunch on the way. After two wonderful Fort Worden weekends in a row, I'm starting to think maybe lightning can strike twice in the same place.
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