He dances best that dances fast,
And loups at ilka reesing o’t,
And claps his hands free'hough to hough’,
And furls about the freezings o’t.”
Alexander Ross (1699-1784)
With the knowledge that the cost of the advertisement was coming
from my own pocket, its wording no doubt pandered to brevity.
Yet, over 20 souls turned up to the meeting in the ground-floor
room in the Burgh Halls to declare their commitment to the formation
of a Scottish Country Dance Club in Linlithgow. Office-bearers
were appointed, Chalmers Hall was hired, an old record player
en-route to a charity shop was given a polish and attics were
scoured for 78s irrespective of condition. The Club was in business.
I have one positive recollection of these early days, and that
was that we were determined to establish a social dancing club
and anyone referring to the Club as a class was swiftly corrected.
Of course there were new dances to be walked through and learned.
But much onus was put on individuals to learn the dances so that
the maximum amount of time could be spent doing what we were there
for, to dance and enjoy ourselves. The fact that the membership
quickly trebled, and we could afford live music once a month in
a very short time, suggested we were not wrong in our approach.
Looking back over the years one inevitably thinks fondly of individuals
and incidents. The first Hogmany Jig, the Burns Supper, the first
Ball, the night when the Lancers went down like a lead balloon.
I remember the night Margo Powers, who so beautifully at that
time led out the Edinburgh Branch Demonstration Team, came to
Linlithgow at my request to give us a few dancing hints. Margo
insisted on everyone starting with plies to get their legs supple.
I can still hear the moans and groans uttered by the older members.
The gentleman in me has long erased the memory of the thighs that
were on display.
So the memories come flooding back; Christmas parties, having
the temerity to demonstrate dances in Edinburgh, John Carswell’s
magic choreography of “Doon the Watter”, (not to mention his own
elegant dancing), the making of friendships with people who journeyed
from and beyond Edinburgh, Airdrie and Kirkcaldy to attend our
dances. And especially, the building of the Club’s reputation
as a warm friendly place where strangers are welcomed. And
of course, I remember too, that the music group Quern which occupies
so much of my time, was formed by five members of the Club while
chatting over their tea one Friday night and the Club provided
Quern’s first engagements.
I have always regarded it as a shared tribute to the Club when
John Bowie Dickson, creator of such marvellous dances as ‘Luckenbooth
Brooch’ and ‘Wind on Loch Fyne’ dedicated his dance ‘The Quern’
to my wife and I at a Club function in the Burgh Halls in 1990.
He was tremendously impressed by what the Club had achieved in
the short space of 10 years.
Wallace Lockhart Founder member and first President (extract
from the Club’s book produced in 1998)
Click here for poems about the club