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RSCDS London branch eUpdate
17 May 2020


Dear fellow dancers

We have some more interesting items to share with you this week, including a fascinating film from the dance archives featuring Scottish dancing from the Borders in 1930s. We also have more 'favourite dances', this time courtesy of Dave Hall, a Spot the Difference puzzle and links to Dance Scottish at Home including music and links to the latest online class.

Thank you to everyone who has been sending us items to share and to help keep our spirits up.  Stewart Murray, a member of the Surbiton & District Caledonian Society, has been playing his bagpipes outside his house on Thursdays at 8pm for the NHS clap. Here is a video of him last Thursday playing the jig Donald Cameron's Powder Horn . What a lovely salute to the NHS.

Meanwhile Marion and Brian Pierson have been busy devising a dance called 'Down But Not Out'. Brian explains, "It's a medley in strathespey, jig and reel time for one couple or even perhaps one person and a Teddy Bear". Whoever you chose to dance it with, we hope you will have fun dancing it.  The description of this dance is available via this link. Marion and Brian have also made a video of 'live' music suitable for the dance. The link for the music is also shown on the dance description.

Last but not least, the RSCDS Border Branch yesterday presented  An Evening of Dance & Music replacing its traditional Spring Ball. if you are not one of the 1800 people to have clicked on the YouTube link already, you have until tomorrow (Monday) evening to join RSCDS Borders, the Craigellachie Scottish Dance Band and Guests from the comfort of your own home. Click here for the link to the video and here for the evening programme and crib sheet.  Thank you to RSCDS Borders Branch for this fabulous evening. 

Please do let us know if you find something to share with fellow London dancers. Quizzes, favourite dance videos and memories of dancing in times past - all welcomed.  

Scottish Dance Videos
The video we have chosen for this week is an archive of dances danced in the Borders from the 1930s. Although this has no sound, the way in which the dances are danced is fascinating. Scottish Dancing in the Early 1930s.  The history of, and an introduction to, the film Border Dances may be found here.
As an aside, the original film was shot in 9.5mm, which has the sprockets down the middle; when it was spliced tegether, the Earl of Home was the "wrong way round", but luckily the editing suite were able to flip it, so now the entire film is correct!
We also include some further links you may be interested in. Rare Tunes is a website archive dedicated to rare recordings of Scottish sound. One example is Florence MacBride who was Scotland’s first professional concert, broadcasting and recording female fiddler.

Another link from this site is to a fun review from the New Statesman about a 1985 concert which featured Yehudi Menuhin, amongst others. There is a short recording from the concert called The Fiddlers Farewell / Mr Menuhin’s Delight then scroll further down the page to find the review - the reviewer is rather frank!

Thanks again to Peter Knight and to Meryl and Ian Thomson for sourcing and making available these lovely films.

RSCDS Dance Scottish at Home.
This week's Dance Scottish at Home newsletter marked the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale with an interesting history of Florence herself plus vignettes of different RSCDS members in the health professions around the world. Also included was a message from Andrew Kellett, RSCDS Chairman, the 8th RSCDS podcast, a history of Appin, immortalised in Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Kidnapped' as well as the much loved dance 'Autumn in Appin', puzzles, music and much more.

Previous editions of the RSCDS newsletter, Dance Scottish at Home are available here Week 7Week 6Week 5Week 4Week 3Week 2Week 1

We were taken to California for the most recent online class where teacher Ron Wallace was joined by his appropriately distanced colleagues,  dancer Gary Thomas and  musician Jared Bailey.  It was a treat to see Gary's meticulous demonstrations of Ron's clear instructions in the, unprecedented in recent times, space of a beautifully panelled hall in Santa Rosa.  Once again, more than 1250 people logged in to join the class, as Ron taught us the step dance “Merry Meghan”. Ron did point out that, although the dance contained many of the elements of Scottish Country dancing, as a solo dance it missed the key element of social SCD - dancing with others. And yet... as hundreds of us around the world followed Ron's instructions, copied Gary's steps, appreciated Jared's music and left messages via the chat function, it became a very social dance indeed.  Thanks to Ron, Gary, Jared and RSCDS team for another uplifting evening.
You can catch up with this week’s class and some of the chat here.
Next week's class, with a different teacher, will be at 7pm on Wednesday and available via this link (same link every week). Grateful thanks to RSCDS, the teachers and the technicians who make this weekly class possible.

To revisit any of the classes so far simply click on the relevant image below.
Ron Wallace
William Williamson
Mervyn Short
We will continue to include links from Dance Scottish at Home but, if you'd like your own personal copy simply visit, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and complete your details in the ‘Sign up for the RSCDS eNewsletter’ section. It’s quick and easy! There is also a DSAH webpage where you can access previous issues of the Dance Scottish At Home eNewsletter and view all of the Zoom online classes to date – visit
London Branch Spot the Difference Puzzle

This week's puzzle is Spot the Difference compiled by Thelma-Jane Robb. It features a photo taken at our 90th Anniversary Tea Dance held on 1st March at the London Scottish Regimental Headquarters.

Thank you Thelma for reminding us of such a lovely event.

Can you spot the 10 differences? Answers will be given next week.
Three of my favourite dances – Dave Hall
Following last week's selections from London Branch President, Rachel Wilton (Flowers of Edinburgh, Jennifer's Jig and Midsummer Common - this week we are pleased to share dances selected by Dave Hall. Dave has been a London Branch member since the 1990s, having served on the Committee as well as having taught extensively for the Branch over the years, including the Demonstration Class from 1998-2003. He still retains a big interest in the branch through friends, even having been away from the UK for the last 8 years.  

College Hornpipe -  x 32 bar Reel RSCDS Bk 20 No. 12

This is the first dance I demonstrated at a public performance in a children’s team in Manchester around 1980. I love the music, and find hornpipes great to dance to with such drive and a lilt. It is a dance that has a bit of everything I like in dancing: circle and promenade with everyone working together, an energetic solo for first couple with real drive required to get there on time, followed by a cheeky, flirty movement with the hello-goodbye setting. It also requires good technique and teamwork to do well, and I have used it several times for teaching and for teams entering competitions.

Gentleman - x 32 bar Strathespey RSCDS Bk 35 No. 5

I knew Roz Huxley, the devisor, from my dancing days in Manchester. I think both the dance flow and the music from Muriel Johnstone are cleverly constructed and also complement each other outstandingly - I really can’t ever imagine dancing this to any other tune! Muriel played for my first Children's Class in Manchester around 1980, and has been a centrepiece of the RSDCS music business since. If pushed, I’d have to say that dancing strathspey is my favourite tempo, and this dance has some lovely figures. All round poussette is one of the figures that requires real technique and a good partner, as does the quite tricky turn and set at the start of the dance. Lots to enjoy in this.

Wild Geese - x 32 Jig RSCDS Bk. 24 No. 3

Another one of those dances I did a great deal when first dancing with the Manchester Demonstration Team. It has the magnificent down the middle and up movement - lots of energy, time to enjoy your partner and to show real flight. The first sixteen bar figure is a little unusual, which I think adds to the interest in this dance. The music is very much a fiddle tune - the lovely Mrs MacPherson of Cluny by James Lowe (dancing master and musician from the 19th century - also composed great tunes in the dance band repertoire like Archie Menzies and Rachel Rae). I have some great memories of dancing this to the legendary SCD Band of Bobby Crowe (early 1980s) who used Angus Fitchet on fiddle at that time - the Band would build up the tune using solo fiddle to start, adding piano, and other Band members, only introducing the lead accordion on the second 32 bars. Sometimes it would be repeated in reverse on the eighth time through - made your skin tingle and really highlighted the fiddle nature of the tune.

Whether you have been dancing a long time or just started, please do tell us what YOUR choices would be? Email to tell us about them.

Previous weeks' selections
Simon Wales
The Dancing MasterAutumn in Appin and John of Bon Accord

Meryl Thomson
The New Rigged ShipThe Rakes of Glasgow and The Montgomeries’ Rant

Stephen Webb
The Starrie Eyed LassieSleepy Maggie  and Up in the Air 
Melanie Rowland 
Catch the Wind, Pelorus Jack and The Dream Catcher 

Chris Hood 
Bratach Bàna, Clutha and Seann triubhas Willichan 

Rachael Wilton

Flowers of EdinburghJennifer's Jig and Midsummer Common


NHS advice on keeping yourself well:

Government advice here:
RSCDS Blog here:

We look forward to dancing with you soon.
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