Staying social with Scottish Country Dances

February 15th, 2024Staying social with Scottish Country Dances

It was in Germany, of all places, that they eyes of Creswick’s Susan Greenbank were first opened to Scottish Country Dancing.
Heather Ross (at front left) of Daylesford Dancers’ Scottish Country Dance Group with Ballarat Scottish Country Dance Group dancers and (at front right) Creswick’s Susan Greenbank and Ballarat Scottish Country Dance Group’s Neil Leckie at Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree. Image: Eve Lamb

It was in Germany, of all places, that they eyes of Creswick’s Susan Greenbank were first opened to Scottish Country Dancing.

Eight years on it’s clear it was to be an enduring passion as Susan is among the region’s legion of Scottish Country Dancing devotees now keenly anticipating the resumption of the Daylesford Dancers’ Scottish Country Dance Group sessions from March 5.

From that date the Daylesford group will be dancing on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the Masonic Hall in Vincent Street.

The group’s Heather Ross says it’s a very sociable session and Scottish Country Dance is itself a very social activity.

“It’s not Highland Dancing,” Heather says.

“It’s more like square dancing and it’s purely for fun.”

Like many of the Daylesford group members both Heather and Susan also dance regularly with the Ballarat Scottish Country Dance Group as well.

Members from both groups recently joined forces to give a demonstration of the time-honoured dance form as part of a multicultural event at Ballarat’s Lake Wendouree.

Chatting with them after catching their engaging kilt-swirling performance it quickly became clear that members of both groups jump at just about any opportunity to dance with others who share their passion for the dance form.

“People come to our Daylesford group from as far as Werribee, Melbourne, Castlemaine, Ballarat,” Heather says.

“The Daylesford group was actually started by (the late) Les Morrow from Castlemaine, for people who love the dance form to come together from across regional areas.

“The group’s been going for at least nine or ten years now. It’s just kept going and it’s very casual but we’d love new dancers to come along. We’d love to have more Daylesford area people coming to the group.

“When we get new dancers beginning we take it very slowly. We introduce them to it slowly.

“You don’t have to wear tartan. No special clothes are needed. The main thing is just to have soft shoes and a sense of rhythm, and you’ve got to be reasonably fit.”

There must be something fairly addictive about Scottish Country Dancing as many of the region’s members become so engrossed in it that they travel to Melbourne on a weekly basis to participate in social dance sessions there as well.

“I’ve been going (to the Daylesford dances) now since 2016,” Creswick’s Susan Greenbank says.

“It’s not competitive. It’s all social. The thing I enjoy most about it is the fun and the laughter, especially when you mess up. You laugh your head off.”

Many of the Ballarat group members regularly travel to Daylesford to participate in the sessions at the Masonic Hall in Vincent Street as well as attending their group’s regular dance sessions on offer in Ballarat.

One of their members, Graham Gooding, says the dance form seems to particularly appeal to people with a maths or science background. Perhaps because of the repeating patterns, sequences and symmetry involved.

For these reasons it’s also recognised as being pretty good for the brain as well as the body, dancers say.

Graham is pretty clear about what the main attraction is for him – “the music and the fitness and the fun,” he says.

No partner is necessary to participate and the upcoming Daylesford dance sessions take place between 10am and 2pm with those who attend invited to bring lunch along with them, and drinks provided as part of the $10 session cost.

Heather says all newbies are more than welcome and should give her a call first on 0418-313-060.

Words & Image: Eve Lamb

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