The Ghillie Gazette

The May/June 2015 newsletter of the Portland Oregon Branch of the R.S.C.D.S.

SW Washington Dinner Dance

Dinner Dance in Vancouver, Wash.

From The President

by Martin Mac​Kenzie

Happy Dancing Everyone! See you on the dance floor!

Teacher’s Corner

by Linda Mae Dennis

Have Shoes, Will Travel

I had heard and read stories about the wide world of Scottish Country Dancers – their legendary friendliness and hospitality. Stories about how you could take your dancing shoes anywhere in the world and be welcomed as part of a class. Several years ago, Victoria MacKenzie came back with stories of dancing in Budapest. Just a couple of years ago Tom Halpenny contacted another Scottish Country Dancing ‘Halpenny’ in Australia, and was welcomed and treated like family when they finally met. And of course, many of us have been on the other end of it, hosting teachers and musicians travelling from various places to here, for our workshops etc.

When Patrick and I started making plans for a trip to Europe this summer, I thought I would also give this Scottish Country Dance Community thing a shot. The trip started out being partly about visiting the Mintz twins (Scottish Country Dancers from Vancouver, WA who are now living in Spain, teaching English). We have never been to Spain (nor do we speak Spanish much) but recognize the value of ‘the local guide’, and couldn’t pass up what we saw as an opportunity.

When we started making real plans, it turned out that our first flight would take us to Dublin, Ireland. Well, we have never been to Dublin either, so thought we would stay there a couple of days and check it out before heading to Spain. I found the website and contacted the Scottish Country Dance group there in Dublin to see if they would be able to recommend any entertainment. It took about a week for my request to get filtered to the right person. They have now set up a special class – because they don’t get visitors from the US just every day – with musicians and everything, have invited me to teach a dance or two, and have arranged to meet up with us during the day to show us around. Amazing!

I found the website and contacted the dance group in Barcelona, planning to dance there with them on their regular dance night, only to find out that their teacher has been ill and there have been no classes this year. I offered to teach a class there, but they haven’t taken me up on the offer yet. It could still happen. We do hope to meet some of the Barcelona dancers while we’re there.

We decided that no European trip would be complete without a trip to England – we have been there before, and just love the old world charm. So, I contacted Marilyn Watson, one of the examiners from when TAC Summer School was here in Portland, and who we hosted for a few days after Summer School was over. We got to be such good friends while she was here. I told her what we were up to in England and we were of course invited to stay at her house, she could pick us up at the bus or train station, and would we like to attend her dance class? She had just returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand, where I assume she was met with the same Scottish Country Dance Community hospitality.

If you plan to travel, do contact the SCD group where you’re going. It may come to nothing, but it may turn out to be a delightful opportunity to meet some new friends. I would also encourage you to open your homes and invite visiting dancers to stay with you at every opportunity. It’s a great way to get to know people from all over the world with our shared passion for our wonderful little hobby, Scottish Country Dancing.

Southwest Washington State Branch Dance E-books

by Tom Halpenny

With the goal to improve the awareness for five historical RSCDS Southwest Washington State Branch dance books and promote dances to be danced more widely, we can visit the Branch's "Dance Books and Items of Interest" web page to access e-book pdf files.

Visitors may download e-books, for an optional donation with PayPal, or may contact the branch Treasurer by email in order to purchase available printed dance books.

The Princess Bride Collection - 2013

Just Desserts - 2010

An International Language - 2009

A Feast of Dances - 1995

A Collection for the Washington State Centennial - 1988

We have also updated the Strathspey Scottish Country Dance Data Base so the existing dance publication web pages reference the e-book pdf files.

We hope you will enjoy visiting the web page and accessing the Branch's dance e-books.

Do You Want To Dance?

by Pat Taylor

I often wonder what motivates people to join our Scottish Country Dance class - people who, on the face of it, have no connection to Scotland or anything Scottish.

Is it simply a different form of exercise that sounds like it might be fun to try? It’s certainly both of those things - good exercise and fun - and probably more energetic (not to mention hard on the feet and knees!) than people might think.

Is it perhaps a social thing, a place to meet and make new friends? I think we’re a welcoming bunch, and the fact that anyone can come to dance without a partner is appealing. I don’t find it’s a big deal ‘being a man’ - after all, the roles of the man & lady are not so different in country dancing, and it’s not like ballroom dancing where 2 ladies would be dancing ‘bust to bust’ as in Joyce Grenfell’s wonderful song (watch her singing it on youtube - Joyce Grenfell: Old Time Dancing).

Could it be the rousing music that draws people, and the legendary swirling kilts, or maybe the fascination of discovering what Scots really wear under them! I won’t go there!

For myself, I was introduced to both English & Scottish Country Dancing in my elementary school in the north of England. My grandma knitted me a skirt which was grey with colored stripes around the hem and it was a full circle, so you can imagine how it flared when I twirled! I loved that skirt - I felt like the bee’s knees! As a side note, my grandma knitted a skirt for herself and one day got caught in the rain wearing it. As the woolen garment got wetter and therefore heavier, it stretched and stretched until it was ankle length! But, back to my first experiences with country dancing - most of the boys in my class hated it, or just weren’t interested enough to try to get the hang of it, but one boy, and I still remember his name, David Ingham, was so enthusiastic his knees seemed almost to bang his chin when he skipped! It was so embarrassing to be his partner! It’s a wonder that first exposure to reels and setting and skip change didn’t put me off for life!

Many years ago, Brian & I hosted 3 of the dancers visiting from Manchester, just a few miles from our hometown of Accrington, Lancashire. We had so much fun with them and attended the Saturday evening dance held in their honor. Incidentally, we have remained friends ever since and have got together several times either here or in England. Their love of dancing rekindled my interest and I vowed that when the opportunity arose I would give it a shot. Through the DBE I heard about these classes and when the venue moved to Lake Oswego, a few minutes from our home, I had no excuse. So now I’m hooked - it is great exercise for the body and the mind, it is a lot of fun, the music is wonderful, and the people are lovely. It’s inexpensive, I don’t need special clothing, and I can let my dancing-averse husband happily do his own thing while I do mine!

Upcoming Events

Here's a list of events coming up in the next ninety days. This calendar is kept up to date at

April 2019

Vancouver, Wash.
4/27 at 6:00pm

May 2019

Burlingame Water Tower, Portland, Ore.
5/11 at 7:30pm
Portland AGM
Burlingame Water Tower, Portland, Ore.
5/20 at 7:30pm

June 2019

Portland Class
Burlingame Water Tower, Portland, Ore.
6/3 at 7:30pm


If you want to vote in the Annual General Meeting (AGM), your membership must be renewed before the Meeting, which is the second Monday in May.

If your are not a current member, you can register here.

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Portland Ore. Branch:
Membership Form 2018-2019

Membership Type:

Note for families: Join at the family rate only if there are two adults; a single adult should join at the single rate.

A “secondary” membership is for people who already have their RSCDS membership through another branch and want to become members of our branch. The “Ghillie Gazette Only” option is for people who have not yet decided to join the branch but would like to receive the newsletter.

Please make check payable to “RSCDS Portland OR Branch” and mail or give to Sally Palmer, 1425 SE Yukon St., Portland, OR 97202-5315 . We cannot process your membership request until we receive your check.

Is Scottish Country Dance fun?