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RSCDS London branch eUpdate
14 June 2020


Dear fellow dancers

Changes are slowly happening around us. The weather is getting warmer, some children have returned to school and from tomorrow many non essential shops and services will reopen. And yet, here we still are with no branch dances on the immediate horizon,  But, at least RSCDS members and friends are able to share their love of dance and we have been delighted with, and grateful for, the imaginative content we've received from around London. 

A couple of weeks ago, Judith Jones shared a video of her new dance 'Wuhan Woohoo'. This inspired  Kay Senior of Chiswick to poetic effect. and her 'Lockdown' poem may be found further down this email.

We've had another fabulous set of dance cribs and videos. A few weeks ago, many of you enjoyed Murrough Landon's dance video project "All Shall Be Well" which he devised, danced and edited, Murrough has now provided another entertaining video of the same kind and in the same walking/dancing style. Winter in Wasdale is a busy square dance which started life loosely inspired by Autumn in Appin and then, in Murrough's words, 'went its own way, especially when I had to make it hands free for this kind of solo video'. 

Michel Nolan forwarded a delightful video of Dancing at Chiswick House in June 2015 which will be  included in the Bedford Park virtual festival this year. Courtesy of Ian Wylie we include also some stills from Bedford Park Festival in 2015 (Photo 1, photo 2, photo 3 & photo 4).This year's Green Days Bedford Park Festival is taking place from 12-18 June.  Virtual content available here

Also In this week's eUpdate we have another fascinating glimpse into the dance archives with a BBC TV in Scotland film on the White Heather Club. Wendy Morris, Treasurer of the Surbiton and District Caledonian Society, shares her three favourite dances and this week's 'Dance Scottish at Home' newsletter was packed with the now customary high quality content including, of course, a link to the latest online class. We also have a General Knowledge Quiz on Scotland. 

Finally, we have been asked if we would share a survey. The University of the West of Scotland has carried out a number of research studies with the Scottish diaspora – Scots and their descendants who live outside Scotland. Their present research study is with Scots living in England and Wales, focusing on the period since the vote by the UK to leave the European Union. More information and a link to the survey may be found here.

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

This week's video is a 35 minute film from 1991 looking back at the days of the White Heather Club - a TV variety show which appeared on the BBC from 1958 to 1968 with the theme tune, composed by Jimmy Shand, "The Six Twenty Twostep" later used in the dance "The White Heather Jig."

Sir Jimmy Shand was an integral part of the Scottish music scene for many decades. His signature tune was "The Bluebell Polka".
Three of my favourite dances – Wendy Morris
Following last week's selections from Jim Cook, this week Wendy Morris,Treasurer of Surbiton and District Caledonian Society, shares her favourite dances with us. 

As a relative newbie, the repertoire of dances with which I am totally comfortable and confident is predictably limited. But here are my suggestions from someone who four years ago didn’t know their Montparnasse from their Napier’s Index.

Miss Johnstone of Ardrossan – X 32 bar Reel 14 Social Dances for 2000 No. 9  (Devised by Roy Goldring)

I do like five couple dances with a mathematical equilibrium to them. Where you start at the top and finish at the bottom and do fancy but repeated stuff in between. These balanced figures flow so beautifully and as long as you concentrate in the reels, the music will tell you where to go. Allegedly.

J.B.Milne – X 32 bar Reel Angus Fitchett Album No. 32 (Devised by Hugh Foss)

I love this because it looks advanced and complicated for people watching and the ‘meanwhiles’ masquerade as desperately tricky but it’s a piece of cake once you get the hang of it. You just have to remember if you’re the dancing couple to set and three quarter turn twice, then just cross the third time. The supporting cast have a cross-then-set-on-the-sides vibe going. Note to self when in corner position: focus. Cross and set, not set and cross, or it ends up like knitting. If you make it in time for the setting in line at the end it’s SO satisfying!

Mairi’s Wedding – X 40 bar Reel 22 Scottish Country Dances No. 4 (Devised by James B. Cosh)

As a beginner I soon discovered that I was going to be repeatedly humiliated if I didn’t know this one. Often appearing at the end of the programme, when you are completely exhausted, it has (from my point of view) the odd unpredictable rabbit in the headlights moment - straight out of the half diagonal reels into the reel across. And of course it doesn’t actually pass my perfectly reflected arithmetic progression test. But I forgive it everything because of the sublimely familiar music which simply effervesces with infectious energy. Novices beware: there is a possibility that you will encounter enthusiastic reelers who whirl around in a sort of pirouette on the spot and clap disconcertingly patter cake style as they whiz past you. I must admit I try to retain a dignified composure at this point, due the propensity of the room to spin after an unexpected embellishment in the final circle. But I so admire their ability to keep the whole thing going in the right direction while twirling as well. A style not to be attempted on Burns Night after a few single malts

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 Starry 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 

Rachel Wilton
Flowers of EdinburghJennifer's Jig and Midsummer Common

Dave Hall
College Hornpipe, Gentleman and Wild Geese 

Mervyn Short
The NurserymanLord Elgin's Reel and The Deil amang the Tailors

Margaret Shaw
The New PetronellaJohnnie’s Welcome Hame and Sloane Square 

Jim Cook
Swiss LassieBelle Of Bon Accord and Tap The Barrel
Video challenge

Earlier this month we shared a video of Mr Pastry and his solo rendition of the Lancers.  Can you do better? Send us ( a video of you dancing solo to a favourite Scottish Country Dance and find out how easily, or otherwise, your fellow dancers can identify that dance.
Scottish Country Dancing Quiz

Many thanks to Kay Senior, Hon President of the Chiswick Scottish Country Dance Club who provided the quiz for the last two weeks. To find out the answers to last week's questions then click this link.
Scotland General Knowledge Quiz 
For this week's quiz we have 10 questions to test your general knowledge of Scotland. We hope you enjoy it. The answers will be given in next week's eUpdate.
General Knowledge Quiz about Scotland
1. At the Highland Games in the tossing of the caber event, from what type of tree is a caber usually made?
2. Which Loch is the deepest fresh-water body of water in the British Isles?
3. What is Scotland’s national animal?

4. Who was the first Scot to be UK Poet Laureate?
5. What is sometimes called the Stone of Destiny, and is often referred to in England as the Coronation Stone?
6. What sort of lift is the famous rotating Falkirk Wheel?
7. Can you translate the Scottish Gaelic phrase “Failte gu Alba”?
8. What does “Ceilidh” mean in Gaelic?
9. We’ve taken out the vowels and scrunched up the consonants. What Scottish Country dance is this? The answer may be more than one word. D’LMNGTHTLRS (Book 14).
10. Another Scottish Country dance with missing vowels. The answer may be more than one word. THVTR (Book 52)
Kay Senior’s Lockdown poem

inspired by seeing Judith Jones dancing with her panda

I wish you’d come and dance with me,
For it’s an awful shame,
I’m dancing with my teddy bear,
And it’s really not the same.
I curtsy, oh so gracefully
And Teddy does as well.
I tell him he should bow to me,
He tried and nearly fell.
He’s not so bad at a Strathspey,
He tries his level  best,
But please don’t judge his footwork,
For he’ll never pass the test.
We tried a Jig the other day,
I won’t do that again,
He flew at speed across the room,
And smashed  a window pane.

To do a Reel I held his paw,
As tight as tight could be,
But as we did a Pas de Basque.
He twisted his right knee.
So now he will not join the dance,
But sits and glares at me.
I really tried, but it’s too hard,
So I’m off to make some tea.

RSCDS Dance Scottish at Home.
For perhaps the first time since Dance Scottish at Home began earlier this year, there was live dancing somewhere in the world as Austria and New Zealand resumed classes.  Suppressing our envy, the 1250+ other dancers attending David Queen's class, from Southport, NorthWest England, worked through a series of  step transitions in both quick and strathspey time. before dancing “Jig to the Music”, from the Second Graded Book, in full. 

Previous editions of the RSCDS newsletter, Dance Scottish at Home are available here: 
Week 11Week 10Week 9Week 8Week 7Week 6Week 5Week 4Week 3Week 2Week 1

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 or name below.
David Queen
Fiona Mackie
Graham Donald
Angela Young, Mervyn Short, Dave Hall, Diane Hastie,William Williamson, Ron Wallace
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

NHS advice on keeping yourself well:

Government advice here:
RSCDS Blog here:

We look forward to dancing with you soon.
Copyright © 2020 RSCDS London Branch, All rights reserved.

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