Video/Gallery: Having a fling with Scottish dancers

The Anglo Scotish Society of Ipswich perform some traditional Scotish dances at Rushmere Village Hal

The Anglo Scotish Society of Ipswich perform some traditional Scotish dances at Rushmere Village Hall - Credit: Archant

YOU might not expect to come across a room full of tartan clad dancers on the outskirts of Ipswich on a Tuesday afternoon but that’s exactly what’s going on at Rushmere Village Hall once a week.

The Anglo-Scottish Society of Ipswich have taken residence for the weekly Scottish country dancing class.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the society is going from strength to strength with around 100 members.

And if a Tuesday afternoon is anything to go by enthusiasm remains high for this particular style of dancing.

With names such as Roaring Jelly, The Glengarry Homestead and St Columba’s Strathspey, the society dances a selection of jigs, reels and strathspeys – slower dances.

It’s smiles all round as 40 or so colourfully dressed ladies and gentlemen are put through their paces by class leader Jim Cranmer.

Jim, 74, has been taking the class, which costs £2 per person, for about 17 years.

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“We do about seven dances in each class and the focus is on fun, fitness and friendship and that’s what is about really,” he said.

“It’s not too serious, it’s very sociable and it’s very relaxed.”

Clearly enjoying themselves and notably friendly, the members of the society are concentrating hard as Jim, wearing a Buchanan family kilt, calls out a range of instructions – hands across, right shoulder reel, turn the ladies.

And then, after a couple of run throughs, the foot tapping music starts and the room is suddenly dancing.

Society chairman Christine Erskine is hugely enthusiastic about the society and dancing.

The 72-year-old said: “You don’t need a partner, just flat shoes and a sense of fun.

“As well as the weekly class we have events throughout the year including Hogmanay and Burns Night as well as about six Saturday night dances a year.”

Life member of the society Dorothy Tattersall, originally from Edinburgh but now from Nacton, is 94, and she’s popped down to the hall for a cup of tea and a chat about old times.

She said: “I started country dancing when I was at school and I gave up when I was about 80. I always enjoyed the music and the company and my husband liked it to so it was something we did together. It is still popular which is nice to see.”

For Jessie Day, who is now in her 80s, the society is a fun way of keeping fit and active.

She said: “I have been in the society for about 30 years. I joined when my children had grown up and I had a bit more time. It can be quite complex to learn but it keeps your mind and body active. It is great fun and you never see anyone looking glum or miserable when they are dancing.”

As Jim calls out the moves to the intriguingly named Montgomeries’ Rant, retired BT researcher Eddie Barella, of Woodbridge, takes a moment away from the floor.

The 86-year-old said: “I took up Scottish Country dancing in 1975. I enjoy it, it’s good exercise and you get to meet interesting people.”