Volume 24 #1
The Scottish Country Dancer
July/August 2007

Articles in This Issue
Dance Trivia Manager's Message
Bits of News A' Gleidheadh ar Eachdraidh agus ar Cannan
Outgoing Manager's Message Calendar of Events
Dance Trivia
by John Shaw

One of the "core" dances this year is a 32 bar strathspey/reel medley named "Cauld Kail". It is described in RSCDS Book 9, and dates from the early 18th century. The lead tune is "Cauld Kail in Aberdeen", which is also from the 1700's.

But, what is "Cauld Kail"? Well, here is a bit of the background of that dance title, from the book Scotland Through Her Country Dances, by George S. Emmerson:

"Kail or kale is the vegetable colewort, sometimes called 'greens' in England. It grows on a stalk, has large crinkly leaves and is of the cabbage family. Kail is usually used in broth, and often a vegetable soup containing kail was called kail-broth, or simply 'kail'. Cold kail would be such a broth that had cooled and lost its savour. Hence the familiar Scottish saying with reference to the restoration of old ideas or practices that had seen their day -- 'cauld kail het again' (cold kail reheated!)."

In the Level 3 class recently, Marge van Nus taught the dance "Caberfei", from the book Scottish Country Dances of the Eighteenth Century, by Jack McConachie. Caberfei is from the GÓidhlig caber feidh, meaning "deer's antlers"; and the first couple is instructed to "make the shape of the Deer's Antlers on bars 9-16."

A dance detail that challenged the students: one of the figures required the dancers to set on the right foot (one pas de Basque) and then travel with 3 skip change of step: "set on the right, then travel left, right, left." It was not technically difficult to do, but it was hard to break the habit of setting right and left, and humorous when they didn't.

Bits of News

Here are two items of news regarding our club that folks not attending classes may not have heard.

First, the Annual General Meeting was held after class on Wednesday, May 23rd. At this meeting, a new slate of officers (called the Committe of Management) was elected for the next year. The new lineup: Linda Mae Dennis, Manager; Marge van Nus, Vice Manager; Gail Esparza, Secretary; and Van Meter Hord, Treasurer.

Here's a big Thank You! to the outgoing officers for their fine work this past year.

Second, our group, and southwest Washington!, now has 2 new certificated Scottish Country Dance teachers! In May, Linda Mae Dennis and Liza Halpenny both received their Full Certificates from the RSCDS. Hearty congratulations to both of you!

And one final note: the membership year runs from July 1st to June 30th. If you haven't already done so, please get your membership forms and dues in soon, to Van Meter Hord.

Outgoing Manager's Message
by Tom Halpenny

I would like to thank you for the privilege of serving as the Manager for the past five years. The main point I would like to communicate with my farewell Manager Message is how much I have loved socializing with all of you. Of all the Manager responsibilities, the most enjoyable has been to contact dancers to promote a fun experience with our SCD group. It is good for us to change the Committee of Management people in order to encourage a balance of new vs. traditional ideas ... try new things! I am grateful for your enthusiastic support to plan and participate in our SCD events.

Scottish Country Dance is a wonderful activity that I would like to continue for many years to come in order to stay healthy and develop our social friendships. I hope you all have a great summer, and I look forward to dancing with you in the summer SCD activities.

Manager's Message
by Linda Mae Dennis

Since I was elected in May, we've had one Board of Directors meeting. It was pretty much business as usual, which was nice, as I hardly feel like 'the manager' yet. I am still surprised when I call out for "announcements" at the end of class, and then it's me that is supposed to be doing the talking. Thankfully, I haven't made any major blunders yet. Just a matter of time, I suppose. Or if I have made any major blunders all you people I depend on to help me in this undertaking have covered for me. And no one has actually told me I've made a major blunder, which is likely what it would take for me to realize I had made one. (Please, if I have made or am about to make a major blunder tell me as clearly as you can. I am not very good at hints, subtlety or intrigue.) In any case, it's a nice place to be in, in the time-space continuum. All anticipation at this point. Like sitting up on a cliff looking over the whole future. Like planting seeds and watering and waiting and thinking how great the garden is going to be (before the drought, disease and pestilence knocks you back into reality).

We have a number of excellent dancing opportunities this summer. The Picnic, Sunrise Dancing and the Portland Highland Games, Clark County Fair, and Uptown Village, and possibly others, all before we meet again for classes in September. I hope every dancer, regardless of experience, can join us for at least one or two of these. I am looking forward to serving as your manager and sharing lots of great dancing with all. (And I hope we can get it all in before the drought, disease and pestilence overtakes us.) (And I hope you all can put up with my odd sense of humor. I thought that was funny.)

A' Gleidheadh ar Eachdraidh agus ar Cannan
by Martin MacKenzie

Hal˛ a' h-uile duine agus tha mi 'n dochas gu bheil an samhradh c˛rd ruibh uile! Hello everyone and I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer!

I've been thinking a bit of the future of GÓidhlig in the modern world and those who are trying to move it forward into the modern world. I say this because GÓidhlig, although a modern language, is also a language rooted in antiquity and the mostly rural nature of its people. Even its modern day speakers will often guard that history and language fiercely in ways that seem to be a bit on the paranoid or obsessive side to most people who don't know its history.

Case in point: like almost everyone who is looking for bits of media on their favorite subject, I was browsing YouTube looking for GÓidhlig media. Someone had placed several short videos of a program from the BBC called Comadaidh Oir or Comedy on the Edge. The theme was about a number of sgriobhairean writers and cleasaichean actors and support personnel traveling about the Highland communities in a bus who would, before they arrived at each location, create a little comedic sketch about something specific to that particular community or local area, and then perform it at a local community theater.

One of these theaters was located in Culloden. They had very difficult time coming up with something amusing for that most br˛nach or sad of places in Scottish history where the Highlanders were slaughtered by the Duke of Cumberland of England because they supported Charles Edward Stuart, the son of James VIII also known as the "Old Pretender". They eventually settled on a satire of two rabid Star Wars fans bantering with another actor playing the part of the son of parents who ran a B & B nearby that George Lucas "visited". The son would complain about how each character in the movie, like Darth Vader for example, was copied from characteristics of members of his family. It was cute.

The second theater was located on the Island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. There they decided to do a sketch about two scruffy light house keepers on the Flannan Islands which are located near the Island of Benbecula. The keepers were pining over their need for "supplies" which turned out to be underarm deodorant which they hauled up to the light house in a bucket that they used as a chamber pot! It was quite funny. Unfortunately, the writer, Murdo MacSween, had tripped right over the sensibilities of someone in their group named Mary V who was very unhappy about his treatment of the lighthouse keepers in the sketch because of a largely unsolved disappearance of an entire crew of real lighthouse keepers on December 15, 1900 on the Flannan Islands. This was a big deal in the Outer Hebrides and it left a stain on the lighthouse service from which it never fully recovered. The writer commented "I think she's too old fashioned for a program like this that's trying to encourage new GÓidhlig talent. I'm not happy (about it)".

I'm of the opinion that those who want to preserve GÓidhlig, its history, and what it was, and those who want to push GÓidhlig into the modern world of things like comedy, modern living, and ideas and technology, need to gabh iad air an socair or take care lest the language fall victim to the worst of all possible deaths of infighting. Na leigh e a thachair! Don't let that happen!

If anyone wants to see any of these little sketches, type or copy and paste
into the URL field in your browser. They all have English subtitles.



Calendar of Events

July 8: Summer Potluck Picnic
Potluck Picnic hosted by VancouverUSA Scottish Country Dancers. 
Lewisville Park, north of Battle Ground, at the Oak Shelter. 

Arrive anytime after 11am; lunch at 1pm -- dancing after lunch!

What to bring:
    Your family!
    A potluck dish to share
    $2.00/car entrance fee (carpooling is cool)

Water and a grill will be provided.
For more information: call LindaMae at 360-609-0623, or email her at
July 21: Portland Highland Games
This year, the Games will be held on Saturday, July 21st at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon (just east of Portland).

The Portland Highland Games are a fun, family-friendly event with Scottish Highland music, dancing, piping and drumming competitions, athletics, and cultural activities.

See their website at: www.phga.org/.
Aug 3-12: Clark County Fair
Clark County Fairgrounds, Ridgefield, Wa.

Among many other attractions, there will be a performance of Scottish Country Dancing, either August 10th or 12th. Keep checking back for updates.

See you there!
Sep 5: Vancouver USA SCD Fall Classes Start
Luepke Community Center
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA, 8:00 to 9:30 PM.
Beginning and Intermediate classes in Scottish Country Dancing. (Begin signing up when the catalog becomes available near the end of summer.)
Sep 10: Portland RSCDS, First class of Fall session
7:30pm Tigard Grange, 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard.
Sep 21-23: Fort Worden Weekend
RSCDS Seattle Branch's Annual Weekend Workshop and Ball

Deby Grosjean (fiddle), Calumn MacKinnon (fiddle), Andy Imbrie (piano), Ralph Gordon (cello, bass)

Helen Frame (Ayrshire, Scotland), Irene Paterson (Mukilteo, WA), Fred DeMarse (Alameda, CA), Arthur McNair (Pittsburgh, PA)

Watch for your Fort Worden application in April, or check the website for an online application: www.rscds-seattle.org
Nov 3-7: Alasdair Fraser's Fiddle Train
A Five-day adventure across Canada!
Vancouver, B.C. to Toronto, Ontario, November 3 - 7, 2007
Join Scottish Fiddler Alasdair Fraser, Cellist Natalie Haas, and friends (more to be announced) as they travel 3,000 miles across Canada with music and dancing. There will be a Kickoff Concert in Vancouver, B.C.

For information: Fred van Nus 360-892-4366, or www.flyingunderradar.com/rails/fiddletrain.htm.

Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter,
so that I might have something to press against my heart.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  Do you have an item of Celtic interest you would like to see in print?  
  You can contact me in any of the following ways:  
  By mail:  
  John Shaw
  PO Box 2438
  Battle Ground, WA 98604
  By email:  
  The Scottish Country Dancer is a bi-monthly publication of the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers, a non-profit educational organization. For changes of address, please contact John Shaw, PO Box 2438 Battle Ground, WA 98604, . The editor reserves the right to alter or edit any material submitted for publication for reasons of taste, style, or clarity. All materials for publication should be sent by email to the editor at the address above, preferably in straight text. Deadline is one week before the end of the month prior to publication date. Editors of other newsletters may use or adapt any materials in the Scottish Country Dancer unless a specific copyright notice is included. Please credit author and original source.
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