The Scottish Country Dancer
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Southwest Washington State Branch
Volume 38 #6
May/June 2022

Articles in This Issue


From the Chair

by John Shaw

Well, this dancing year is almost over. Can't you feel it in the air? The days are warming up, spring is over, and the summer heat is starting to bear down on us.

Wait -- what!? What part of the planet have you been in? Here, it's cold, and drizzling, and the skies are gray. And we've only had one dance.

Yes, just one dance. But the just concluded April Not-Dinner Dance was the first such dance we have held since 2021 2020 2019! I can tell you, I was ready for it. And apparently I was not alone: we had at one point 3 full sets of dancers, many of whom came early to help with the set up and decoration of the hall. It was wonderful to be dancing together again in front of a live band (yes, even with our masks on).

In other news this season, our Branch will be joining in the trialing of new dances for RSCDS for inclusion in a new book of dances. These sessions of RSCDS Book Testing will be held on Friday evenings in May (that is, May 6, 13, 20, 27) from 7:30 to 9 pm, at the Columbia Dance Center in Vancouver. Then, for added fun, Linda Mae will continue teaching regular SCD classes (same place and time) through the month of June!

Also, there are a couple of local branch AGMs coming up soon. The RSCDS Portland Branch will hold their Annual General Meeting on Monday evening, May 9th at the Water Tower Dance Hall at 7:30 pm.

Then, on Thursday, May 12th at 7:30 pm, the Southwest Washington State Branch will hold their AGM, via Zoom. If you have not received the attendance details and would like to attend, please contact .

Please show your support for Scottish Country Dancing in the Portland/Vancouver area by joining with your fellow dancers and attending the AGM of your Branch. There is so much more we can do together than we can alone!

Our April 30th Dance!

by Susan Shaw
This year's theme, and the Banner

Welcome Back bagpipers, dancers in kilts, friends, and some of our favorite musicians. Our April 30th dance had all this and more! It was a mini-miracle to be back dancing to live music at St. Luke's perfect-for-dancing hall after skipping two years with seemingly no reprieve in sight. Thanks to our intrepid branch board, the planning went forward with many decisions having to do with pandemic restrictions and how many dances we could fit into three hours. It all turned out beautifully with three 4-couple sets of dancers, enough time to visit with each other over delicious refreshments, and even invited spectators and former dancers came to enjoy the whole scene.

Fine Companions!

Lisa Scott at the piano and Betsy Branch on the fiddle were joined by flutist Bill Tomeczak and Erik Weberg on the clarinet, making up the Fine Companions band, delivered a large variety of dance tunes and enjoyed being in the hall as much as the dancers! Patrick Hogan re-discovered his expertise at making the musicians sound good. He also joined Sydney Thomson with bagpipe tunes welcoming dancers at the door, to the delight of a few neighbors who came out to listen. We managed to dance 12 of the 14 dances on the program, ably arranged by Linda Mae, who pointed out several dances devised by folks we remembered as workshop teachers. Both Liza and Linda Mae helped us as they talked us through dance walk-throughs and briefed dances as if they'd never taken a break.

Now that I'm on a roll, let me tell you about the many people who enthusiastically joined in to make this dance a success. Van Meter Hord and Sally Palmer were the experienced and happy pair at the 'welcome back' table who expertly handled accounting duties and made everyone feel welcomed. People who came early to set up and then stayed to the end to put things back were Tom and Liza Halpenny, Patrick (again) and Linda Mae Dennis, and John Shaw. Other early workers who put up decorations under the direction of co-dance chairs Donna Belle and Susan Shaw were Cathi Chlebnikow, Linda Mae (again), Len Munks, Debbie Ralls, and Akana Ma and Donna's dance friend, Theo. (Decorations were provided by Donna, Susan, and Cynthia Soohoo.)

Liza set out the 'Tea' and Eileen Fitzsimons expertly organized and set out sweet, fruity, and savory refreshments. I'm not sure who brought what, but it was all greatly appreciated by musicians and dancers who needed fortification halfway through the program. I must add that Eunice Mackenzie's chocolate 'crack' was welcomed back enthusiastically. Many thanks to Martin for taking photos and videos! Many hearts swelled and a few had emotions welling up when we felt truly welcomed back to this rare and wonderful activity called Scottish Country Dancing. May it not be so rare, but see a resurgence in the future. See you at the next dance!

Dancing During the Pandemic

by Tom Halpenny

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020 with government mandated physical distancing restrictions, Liza and I imagined ways to adapt to the constraints, to keep dancing during the past two years instead of stopping dancing altogether. The pandemic stimulated innovative learning that mostly would not have happened otherwise.

I began 2020 with an active routine of Scottish dancing, square dancing, and international folk dancing. I evolved to lead a weekly Scottish dance class as a non-teacher with the goal to practise our dancing skills with learned dances, and also to lead the weekly international folk dancing meeting that Ken Dewire started in 2011. I also learned about square dance caller skills. Liza and I began hosting online Zoom meetings for three dancing groups and ultimately led 150 meetings, dancing with good-quality-sound music. When physical distancing was discontinued in July 2021, I arranged in-person outdoor international folk dancing and added Scottish dancing in September, dancing with face masks.
I became empowered to provide dancing the way I like to dance –
happy to share with interested dancer friends.
The Scottish dancing moved indoors at Columbia Dance Center in November as the weather became colder. Our Happy Hoppers square dance club also began in-person dancing at the Washington Grange. International folk dancing similarly moved indoors at the Luepke Center as a 50 and Better club in December and just held its 400th meeting.

I generated a list of SCD topics explored during the pandemic.

I appreciated the creativity opportunities to learn new things during the pandemic. Enhanced online communication enabled connecting with folk dancing experts around the world, like the RSCDS online events and square dance caller training videos and discussion groups. I gained some knowledge and skill, and I imagined some related topics that will be interesting to explore in the future.

Related newsletter items during the pandemic:
Scottish Dancing While in Isolation
Social Dancing – Brief Only – Online
Social Dancing Brief Only Class

Groundhog Day Scottish Dance ... Again!
Scottish Legends Dessert Dance

Virtual Donut Run Dancing
Scottish Dancing for Fitness – Dance List Memory Skill

The Dancing Brain
Scottish Country Dancing Memory Skill
Scottish Dance Stories
Teach + Practise Scottish Dancing = Greater Movement
RSCDS Virtual Dance Display - Tom's Learning Process

New Tartan Created for Ukraine

by Margo Page McCoy

[An alert reader forwarded this item to me as an email, which some of you may have already seen. With all the "forwarding" the email underwent, it is not possible to determine all the authors of this piece. I have retained the names that were presented to me. The piece below begins with an introduction by an unnamed forwarder. ~Ed.]

Many thanks to Audrey Prest of Reseda for having called my attention to the new "Ukraine Forever" tartan, now officially registered with the Tartan Register.

Rather than my attempting to paraphrase the story of this newly created tartan, it would be better to simply have Margo Page McCoy, the founder of the Great Scot clothier company (located in Keith, Moray) which created it, tell that story in her own words...

Margo Page McCoy, founder of Great Scot

Like so many people, we watched the horrors unfolding in Ukraine with shock and utter disbelief. We felt helpless, frustrated, and deeply upset. We knew that we must do something meaningful to help now.

Whilst offering a cash donation in the company's name was the first idea, we were compelled to do more than this - but what exactly?

Our social media community has over 120,000 active Great Scotters, and you have always kept us right, so I took the question directly to you, "What should we do and for that matter what shouldn't we do?"

Your response was a clarion call. You beseeched us to design and weave a bold defiant tartan and to sew it into popular styles. The profits should be sent to a reputable charity. Many suggested that The Disasters Emergency Committee would be a good match - The D.E.C. brings together 15 leading aid charities at times of humanitarian crisis overseas, and they launch targeted appeals during times of monumental suffering, which is the case in Ukraine right now.

Donations to the D.E.C. go to their members to spend directly or through trusted partners in the field. Amongst others these partners include the Red Cross, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, and Save the Children. Further to this, every pound donated to the D.E.C. is matched by the government, up to the value of £20 million.

The sky, and a wheat field below

So we began....

...We usually take several weeks to create a tartan design for a customer, but we all felt strongly that the urgency was such that there was no time to waste. We began the concept and design process immediately and worked through that night to finalise every small detail. Colour codes and thread counts now complete, the Ukraine Forever tartan is everything we hoped it would be: bright, bold, and beautiful. Strong.

On the loom

We called all of our partner weaving mills to see who could most rapidly schedule us into their 2022 weaving calendar. Your suggestion then to pre-sell the items will allow us to begin donating just before the products are shipped.

Each product has a different cost to weave, sew, pack, and ship, but in general the profit margins (after VAT, discount codes/returns) range from 21% to 45%. Now, as the number of purchases grows, we may yet also benefit from being able to bring economies of scale to the project and thus improve the margins and therefore the percentage of donation that each item affords. Please try not to apply discount codes because this obviously reduces the amount that we are able to donate.

We also added an additional choice at checkout where you can choose that your basket ["cart" in America] total be rounded up so that even the smallest donation (of even a penny) can add to the overall amount raised, or that a separate stand-alone donation can be made, which we will match up to a value of £20. This is hosted by the app Give and Grow and the Pledgeling Foundation, and they are instructed to donate directly on our behalf to the D.E.C. in real time. This donation is already in excess of £3,000!

For many of you who joined us at the beginning of the Great Scot journey, you are keenly aware of how we champion our communities. Our determination for Made-in-Britain and the various worthy charitable causes have brought real support to so many through the years. It's the power of tartan.

For example, during the pandemic many of you purchased our beautiful tartan Face Masks which in turn allowed us to donate over 46,000 masks for free. More than this, the project allowed us to give significant support to struggling mills through our purchase of many thousands of metres of fine tartan, and it allowed us to continue the much loved Great Scot Seamstress Training Program - albeļt remotely.

Merging colors of two flags

Tartan has always been an emotive fabric. It courts nostalgia, empowers identity, and is a source of great pride and joy to millions of people. Tartan unites people from all over the world, not just Scotland. Our hope is that this fusion of the colours of the Saltire and the Ukrainian flag expresses Scotland's solidarity with Ukraine. It is a symbol of alliance and defiance.

As ever we will keep our community updated about the amount raised. We are making super progress! I want to thank you so much for your continued support. We love designing tartans, tweeds, and making beautiful items from it, but I hope that you share with me the sense that this particular tartan has the power to really make a difference, endure, and leave a legacy that speaks to Scottish-Ukrainian solidarity long after we are gone.



English: A Crazy Language For Sure...

by Reprinted

[This article is reprinted from Vol 14 issue 5, that is, the March-April 1998 issue of The Scottish Country Dancer. ~Ed]

Sometimes it seems that all English speakers should be committed to an asylumn for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins were not invented in England nor French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down; in which you fill in a form by filling it out and which an alarm clock goes off by going on.

That's why you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway and why they have Interstate Highways in Hawaii (think about that one). It's why there's only one television, but it's called a "set".

English was invented by people and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.

Calendar of Events

May 6: May RSCDS Book Testing Sessions Begin
Starting May 6, and continuing for all Fridays in May, Linda Mae will run sessions to test prospective dances for the next RSCDS book of dances.

Columbia Dance Center, 1700 N Broadway, Vancouver, WA. 7:30 pm.
May 9: RSCDS Portland AGM
The Water Tower Dance Hall at 7:30 pm. There will be some dancing after the meeting.
Via Zoom, at 7:30 pm. Ask for attendance details.
June 3: June Friday Dance Classes Begin
Starting June 3 and continuing for all the Fridays of June, Linda Mae will teach "regular" SCD classes.

Columbia Dance Center, 1700 N Broadway, Vancouver, WA. 7:30 pm.

An Englishman said to a Scot: "Take away your mountains, glens, and lochs, and what have you got?"
"England", replied the Scot.

  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 RSCDS Southwest Washington State Branch, 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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