I had the lovely pleasure to participate in this year’s SUSCDF last night, which is the Scottish Universities Scottish Country Dance Festival. It was held in Edinburgh, and my Glasgow group was late due to traffic, but it was a splendid night and a LOT of fun.
There were three stages to the night, at least for me.
Stage One: The Nerves
SUSCDF was a new experience. There were many new people in a room and mixing partners was encouraged. I only ended up partnered with people from my group (by design), but we still danced with people from other groups. It was interesting not knowing who knew what was going on and who didn’t, but also interesting mingling with so many new faces and so many men in kilts.
My nerves were partially because we weren’t there from the beginning and our slot for our dem (which I was in) was moved, so the dances were ones we hadn’t done at all and I was busy trying to figure out just what my new schedule was. It was also because I was nervous/excited for the dem, and that combined with all the new people made me a bit jittery for a while.
Stage Two: The Dem
This was amazing. I was a cheerleader for 12 years, but since I graduated college I haven’t had any sort of performance like that. I loved going back to it. There’s just something amazing about working to learn something, doing it (even if not perfectly), and then having applause rush through the adrenaline and music and heartbeat.
And it was pleasing that my teachers were pleased, as well, because they worked really hard to choreograph and get halls for rehearsal and work on refining our steps and getting us to turn our feet out like ballerinas because it’s so unnatural.
And then, of course, came the drop in adrenaline and the knowledge that it was 1- time for the more difficult dances and 2- time to go to Stage Three.
Stage Three: The Crazy
With more difficult (aka more FUN) dances up for grabs at the end of the night and a bunch of giddy dancers, there’s a lot of goofy, a lot of mess-ups, a lot of social dance screwing around, and overall a lot of sticking with people you know because they’re the ones that will introduce new people to all the ways you can mess with a dance.
I was pulled into a set made up of all dem people to do Midnight Oil, one of the hardest dances on the program and an overall good time that got crazy very fast with people jumping in and out of figures as they pleased (one of the social dance moves).
I danced my favorite, High Society, with one of my teachers and she introduced all sorts of places to spin that aren’t actually in the dance, leaving us dizzy and giggly.
My set for the last dance of the night, which was done two times through, was full of overtired, laughing Glasgow dancers, a whole bunch of mistakes, and a lot of goofing around, and it was one of the best dances all night (High Society being the best, of course).
I can’t wait to learn and get to practice all the social dance moves, like spins and claps and high fives. In dances that revolve around steps and timing like Scottish Country, even the goofing around has timing that needs to be learned so it’s optimally fun and chaotic.
Anyway, those are the three stages of my night at SUSCDF, and I totally recommend people getting involved with Scottish Country Dance if they can. All the ballet feet-turning stuff isn’t important if you’re just doing it for fun and don’t care about getting that perfect, and without that the steps are easy to learn. And there are thousands of dances and variations, so it doesn’t get boring.
(I’m obviously biased, but really. It’s a fun, multi-generational activity. There’s music, it’s social, AND it’s exercise. What’s not to love?)
Your Dancin’ Celtophile,