Malcolm Brown

Message 29229 · 23 Jan 2002 12:26:47 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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While there may have been Yetts in Edinburgh, there were also Gates (like
Cannongate) - not so many as there are in York (where we are very proud of
having Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate as well as all the others), but then Edinburgh
was a bit far from the centre of our Viking kingdom. (gate = street) - and
in York we have several "gates" which lead up to openings in the city walls,
called "Bars"

What I believe Duncan was trying to say was that taking hands in the reels
to represent the opening and closing of the "gates" was wrong. (It would
have had to have been the "Yetts of Edinburgh" for that to have made any

The dance came out in Book 15, and I suspect that Duncan learnt the Dance as
soon as it came out - he had I believe served in north Africa during the
war, and came back into dancing as someone who could already dance when he
went to Jordonhill immediately after the war, and I know he used to go to St
Andrews at that time.

If he was like many of us, he will have had a very clear idea of how the
dances we first learnt at St Andrews should be danced, especially if he had
been asked to demonstrate them in the Younger Hall - if you read the precise
words in WYJTD it is clear that the taking of hands was just a teaching aid
(as this is the latest edition of WYJTD it may have been Duncan's words, but
it reads like Miss M's).
I watched someone dance Old Nick's Lumber Room a few month's ago, and they
deliberately finished the second reel out to the side and started the
circles from the sidelines - I was most upset, because I knew that both he
and I had been in the 4 set display team at St Andrews the year it was
published, and we had definitely started the circles from the centre of the
dance. Does it matter? Of course not! That still doesn't stop it being
important to me!

It seems to me that this (taking hands in G of E) was a teaching aid which
became an established part of the dance - and of course we all know that is
now the official way of performing the dance. However neither the first
edition of Book 15, nor the re-printed copy (Pink cover, but undated), nor
101 SCD, mention taking hands;

How many of us take an inexperienced partner's hands when dancing this sort
of mirror reel? - I don't, but it would prevent them rushing on and getting
back to the top in 5 bars. But if it means that we all start taking hands in
West's Hornpipe and Maxwell's Rant, then I'll continue to let them learn the
hard way

Malcolm (& Helen) Brown
York (U.K.)

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