Video/Gallery: Having a fling with Scottish dancers

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 March 2013

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

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


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.

Scottish dancing

In Scottish Country Dancing the couples in a ‘set’ dance a sequence of ‘figures’ together that make up the pattern for each dance.

During an evening, people will take part in lots of different dances, but once you’ve learned the basic figures, you’ll be able to do many, many dances without much difficulty.

Popular dances everyone gets to know well, but there are always new dances to learn and these are taught at the classes and often ‘walked through’ at dance evenings as well.

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.

“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.”

The Anglo-Scottish Society of Ipswich

The first dance was held at the Diocesan House in Ipswich on October 5 1963

The same year the society held a Burns’ Supper Dance. Tickets were 7 schillings and six pence.

The first 25 years of the society were celebrated with a Silver Jubilee Ball held at Chantry High School on October 8 1988.

A 50th anniversary ball is planned for July 20 this year at the Kesgrave Community Centre. The Craigellachie Band will be performing.

Each year the society holds Hogmanay and Burns’ Night celebration events.

Anyone wishing to join the society can contact Christine on 01206 303375.

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.”

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