Although Strip the Willow is a lovely dance, I must say the Orcadian Strip the Willow is better…not in terms technique but in just plain high-spirited fun (at least when there are a lot of people).
The first time I participated in this dance, I was one of many Americans in a small castle by the University of Stirling. We were being taught dances from a wonderful Ceilidh band, and before the Orcadian, they told us, “If you don’t consider yourself even a bit athletic, you may want to sit this one out.”
I was hooked then, before the dance even started.
They explained the steps, and my dancing partner and I looked at each other. We grinned. We were, admittedly, a little tipsy, and the idea of spinning in circles repeatedly as fast as we could seemed perfectly magical.
My second exposure to this dance was at Bannockburn Live, which celebrated the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. There were at least a hundred people in the line that time, mostly strangers, and it was one of the highlights of my trip to that festival. I even had the privilege of helping teach a few bairns the dance, which was amazing since I’d only done it once before.
I wouldn’t recommend this if you can’t bounce around on your feet for up to twelve minutes, but other than that, it definitely gets 5 Royal Stuarts for being fun, simple, and a bit addicting.
- Hold on tight.
- Switch arms (right for your partner and left for those in the line).
- It’s about community more than technique at a party, so as long as everyone is smiling, laughing, and having a good time, you’re doing it right.
- Help others if you can (as you can see people doing in the video).
- Keep time with the music. Don’t challenge yourself to find out how fast you can spin in circles because you will end up running into people and wobbling from all the dizzy (although it’s pretty fun, anyway).
Your Bonnie Celtophile,