A reply from the pepetrator (Veeery loooong)

Sue Porter

Message 43409 · 4 Dec 2005 16:05:03 · Variable-width font · Whole thread

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Hi Seonaid,

Just to say that the SUSCDF Ball last night in St Andrews was great . I was
pleased to see that there were dancers once again from Dundee and Newcastle.
The enthusiasm of all these young adult dancers, including those who had
just started to dip their toes into the S.C. dance scene and the wonderful
tunes from James Gray's band just made my night. Thanks to you all for being
very welcoming and keeping S.C. dancing alive and jigging.

Sue Porter
RSCDS Youth Director

----- Original Message -----
From: "Seonaid Anderson" <xxxxxxx.xxxx@xxxx21.xxx>
To: "SCD news and discussion" <xxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx>
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 9:41 PM
Subject: Re: A reply from the pepetrator (Veeery loooong)

> Hello,
> As a 26 year old dancing Scot, I'd like to add my tuppence worth.
> My parents both dance, so I was brought up dancing (both SCD and
> Highland). However, I would not still be dancing if I hadn't found some
> enjoyment of dancing for myself.
> At primary school we had 'lessons' in ceilidh dancing - usually in the
> lead up to the Christmas dance. Most of these lessons were awful. The
> teachers didn't have a clue of how to do the dances themselves, so trying
> to tell others how to do it. By P6 (Age 10) I was teaching most of the
> class (or at least helping the teacher out when she got to a bit she
> wasn't sure about).
> At high school, in our first couple of years (age 12-14), some people did
> some SCD as part of their PE classes (I got modern dance instead). While
> these were infinitely better than the classes of primary school, they were
> still taught by the PE teacher who was a year away from retiral - again
> not very appealing as something 'cool' to do out of school. The only time
> scottish dancing became acceptable was in S5 + S6 when we had a school
> ceilidh (MC'd by a member of the local SCDC) and a formal ball which was
> split between ceilidh and disco. Even then the school was split between
> those who found activities of any sort interesting, and those who prefered
> to be hanging on the street corner smoking etc.
> From the age of 5, I regularly attended dances with my parents. We would
> walk through the dances in the afternoon so that we would have an idea of
> what we were doing. We went to a variety of local dances across East
> Central Scotland. In most of the places we danced, we were welcomed with
> open arms and everyone was more than willing to help us get through the
> dances.
> At the age of 15, I asked to join an RSCDS class because I wanted to use
> SCD for my Duke of Edinburgh Award, and none of the children's classes in
> the area would allow me to show that I had improved. I was refused
> because I was under 16, and I was absolutely gutted - even though at that
> stage I didn't really have much of an idea of what the RSCDS actually
> stood for.
> Luckily a few years later, I moved to university and joined the local
> branch their. They could not have been more welcoming - although I knew a
> lot of them anyway, because I had grown up dancing with them. I didn't
> have to pay any branch subscription, people offered me a lift to/from
> classes (via the pub), and more importantly, people accepted me and talked
> to me like I was a normal human being!!!! One of my latest (and most
> memorable) nights as a first year student was going out to a local dance
> and then being invited to join some of the 'zimmered' oldies for a drink
> at someone's house afterwards.
> Then I moved 500 miles away for the last few months of my course. This
> was a bit more of a challenge for me, as I didn't know any of the folk
> there, but I went along anyway. Again, a big warm welcome awaited me.
> They asked me what my favourite dance was and made sure they taught it (At
> that point it was Reel of the Puffins - I'm not sure they ever mastered
> it, but they had fun trying!)
> More recently I have been going with David to most of the dances he plays
> for. Again, this has often meant going to a group where I don't know
> anyone (or sometimes the odd one or two) which can be very daunting -
> especially when you have a husband who can never remember exactly what the
> event is that he is playing for, so you have to guess whether to wear a
> skirt and top or a ballgown!! Happily, the vast majority of groups
> welcome me warmly. However, I have had a number of occassions where
> people assume that, because I am young, I am a beginner and that I need
> told how to do all the dances (OK, after driving 400 miles to get to a
> dance, maybe sometimes I do!). I have also had occassions where I have
> sat most of the night without dancing because everyone has their partners
> sorted out too quickly for me.
> There are groups to which I will not go back, because I did not find the
> experience of dancing there enjoyable. On reflection, most of these are
> in Scotland.
> Throughout all these dancing experiences I am usually the youngest at the
> dance by at least 20 years. At some there will be two or three other
> 'young people', but out of a hall of 100 dancers, this is not good for the
> future of dancing.
> As others have said there is are thriving young groups around, but even
> these are having their problems. Since I started dancing on the
> university circuit in 1997 Newcastle and Dundee have both folded, Glasgow
> has struggled although I gather they are having a better year this year.
> On the up side Aberdeen and Warwick have both started groups.
> I firmly agree with Jenny's statement that:
>> Perhaps the most important lesson that needs to be learnt is by the
>> branches themselves - if they are serious about expanding and encouraging
>> a younger membership, they need to adopt an attitude which is conducive
>> to both attracting new people and to keeping them.
> However, I would take it one step further and say that it is not just up
> to the branches. It is up to every individual who dances to encourage
> young people to dance in their group (or even at another group's dance!)
> Finally, I would say that things within the RSCDS are moving in the right
> direction. We have the Easter School, which has helped university-type
> dancers get a positive RSCDS experience. The Inter Varsity Folk Dance
> Festival has received sponsorship from the RSCDS for the last few years
> which has again made some difference to the way the RSCDS are perceived.
> Again, individual RSCDS members do have a big part to play. Instead of
> expecting young dancers to come along to your dances without knowing you,
> why not go along to their dances and show that you enjoy dancing as well.
> Take some friends, if it helps you feel less intimidated. Most young
> people that are likely to be interested in dancing are unlikely to be
> anti-old people. They also realise old does not (necessarily) equal
> boring. In my area, the people that birl the most are some of the oldest
> dancers in the area! Basically, if you show an interest in them, they are
> more likely to show an interest in you.
> Well, this has turned into a longer ramble than I'd anticipated, so I
> think I'd better sign off now!
> Happy dancing,
> Seonaid
> Seónaid Gent
> Markinch, Fife
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