Someone remarked the other day that people living in England take reeling, or Scottish dancing, more seriously than those in Scotland.
I have no evidence, one way or the other, to back this up. But I do organize the annual reeling evening in aid of the Tedworth Hunt in the Marlborough area, and this year, for the first time a band, the Craigievar, based in Reading came to provide the music.
Even if I say so myself, it was a fun evening from start to finish : there were no rules or regulations, no dress code, and everyone was able to bring their own food and drink. The band played up and over 100 people gathered in a circle ready for the first dance.
One thing about Scottish dancing is that it doesn’t really matter how good or bad you are at it. There’s always someone who will show you the steps or point you in the right direction.
Suddenly you are swept along in the fun and frolicking of the evening, and before the band strikes up, usually the “caller” will go through the steps and demonstrate, or at least tell you what needs to be done.
The other thing is that everyone is included in every dance. You just grab your partner, or the nearest person standing next to you at the time, and you’re in the next reel. And it doesn’t seem to matter if you partner is of the same sex, as the dancing begins to take off and as long as you can dance to the beat of the music, you will be fine.
Whether it’s the Duke of Perth, Hamilton House, Dashing White Sergeant or the Gay Gordon’s, everyone is included and no one will make fun of you if you’re unable to follow the steps and the rhythm precisely.
Rest assured that within the hunting community you are likely to find one or two “bossy” women always ready to tell you what to do and put you right in a forceful, yet well-meaning manner.
But by the end of the evening, the mood is exuberant and buoyant and I doubt whether there was a single person taking part who didn’t enjoy themselves.
As our photograph - by Piers Allardyce - shows, the expression on the faces is what counts.
I can’t wait for next year.
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