by Mel Whitson
As Scottish Country Dancers, there will be instances where we will be required to dance after only hearing a briefing of the instructions. This occurs at dance events, of course, but it also happens in classes. Sometimes when a dance is being taught, we may have the opportunity to have walked or practiced just a portion of the dance. Or perhaps we only had the chance to practice the role of the second or third couple but not of the first couple. Or maybe we were able to practice the entire dance as first couple but haven’t a clue what to do as the third couple!
When learning a dance, I think everyone (myself included) feels more comfortable with the safety net of having had the opportunity to walk or practice the dance before it is finally danced through all its “times through” by the entire set. However, in a class teachers generally prefer not to walk/practice each dancer through every position. Doing so results in a very slow paced class that many dancers find boring.
Consequently, it is helpful for dancers to develop their memory placement and retrieval skills as well as the ability to absorb information “by ear.” It is known that people have various ways of learning and of placing memories in their brains so dancing from a briefing is easier for some dancers than for others. That said, everyone should be able to improve their abilities through practice. And of course, some dances are just easier to remember because they have fewer movements occurring simultaneously and/or have fewer bits (dances with all eight bar figures can be easier to recall than those with lots of two bar and four bar parts).
Below are some tips that I hope you may find beneficial in the quest to successfully dance from verbal instructions.
- Listen with engagement and don’t let yourself get distracted.
- Think positively and make memorizing the dance a goal! When we have a goal, we tend to remember the steps to achieve it.
- Close your eyes and envision the figures in your mind’s eye. Envision the entire figure, not just first couple’s part. For example, for reels of three, picture a figure of eight with three dots simultaneously moving along the track.
- Immediately repeat the words you heard, or a summary that is meaningful to you, out loud (softly) – this is very powerful in implanting it in your short term memory.
- In your head, organize the dance into four or five chunks, such as “1. Set/cast/turn, 2. Diagonal half Reels of Four, 3. Reels of Three on the sides, 4. Circle.” Remembering fewer things is easier.
- Associate the figure names with the shape of the movements or with another memory cue that works for you such as a story. For example, you might think of Double Triangles as being two triangles or as of the shape of the St. Andrew’s Cross. If the dance has Lead Down the Middle and Up, ending ready for Double Triangles, perhaps you could think of it as taking a trip where you end up at St. Andrews.
- If you learn best by physical movement, try making small hand/arm/feet movements during the briefing, for example -
- draw a Figure of Eight with your hand and arm;
- let your fingers do the walking to symbolize Lead Down the Middle and Up;
- for Rights and Lefts, lift your right hand, then left hand, then right hand, then left hand;
- make circling motions with your right hand to signify a right hand turn;
- tap your right shoulder as a prompt for which shoulder to give in a Reel of Three;
- move your feet and body slightly to represent the figures; for example, for Set and Cast, do a small setting movement with your feet and then dip your right shoulder back slightly.
- When the dance is over, immediately recite the figures to yourself to help implant them in your long term memory.
- Make the effort to practice and develop your abilities to dance from verbal instruction; view it as another facet of Scottish Country Dancing to learn, just like the steps, phrasing, eye contact, figures, and etiquette.
Additionally for a Dance Event:
- If you learn by watching, maneuver with your partner to be fourth couple (or ask your set if you can do so) to allow yourself to watch the dance once. Of course this doesn’t work for set dances that call for exactly three/four/five dancers.
- If one couple will be walked through while the dance is being briefed, ask your set if you and your partner may be the first couple – don’t be shy or embarrassed!
- Review the cheat sheets and/or diagrams ahead of the event. Walk the dances out in your home, walking it as first couple and then as second couple and then third couple, etc. Alternatively, move small objects (salt and pepper shakers work well) around in the patterns of the dances. You may find that a dance you thought to be intimidating actually isn’t so hard after all.
- Watch Danciemaetions!
Additionally in a Class:
- If the briefing was unclear or confusing or you just got distracted and missed something, ask the teacher to repeat/clarify. Don’t be shy – others likely have the same question.
- If you feel you are really going to struggle without more practice, ask the teacher for more practice.
- Pay attention to what is practiced in class exercises that precede the dance. Teachers purposely use exercises to enable dancers to be better prepared for the dance itself. However, the practice is not always going to be identical in every way to how it will be done in the dance – be flexible and try not to learn only by rote.
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; we all make mistakes and we will laugh along with you – not at you.
RSCDS Musicians Interview
by Tom Halpenny
Musicians Scott Band and Bill Ewan were interviewed by BBC music radio programme “Take the Floor” host Anna Massie April 29, 2017. The musicians recorded the music for RSCDS Book 50 dances. We can listen to the interview and learn how Scottish country dance music differs from other dance music for ceilidh or old time dances. http://www.rscds-swws.org/news/stories/BandEwanInterview.mp3 Note, this might take a bit of time to load depending upon the speed of your Internet connection.
The current “Take the Floor” programme hosts are less aware of Scottish country dance compared with the recently retired programme host and RSCDS member Robbie Shepherd who was an enthusiasic promoter. We can recall the 2015 newletter item when he interviewed retired RSCDS Membership Secretary Elspeth Gray. http://www.rscds-swws.org/news/201503/vol31-5.htm#art.7
Linda Mae’s European Vacation, one of three
by Linda Mae Dennis
So, we all met at PDX with no difficulty, and plenty of time to wait around. Janice was kind enough to pick Patrick and me up at our house and take us to the airport, and Kathlleen and Rebecca Mintz were due to take up residence at our house for the duration, and my friend Cheryl had offered to do any watering that needed to be done, so our anxiety about leaving was at an all time low. There was a cool diorama near the restrooms closest to our gate of jellyfish suspended in a glass container – the cool thing was that they were made from fabric and felted wool, including the urchins and rocks on the “sea floor”. The flight, which left on time at 3:40pm was uneventful, but extremely long, and in brilliant sunshine the whole way to Reykjavik, which made it very difficult to sleep. Reykjavik itself was pretty fogged in. The landscape around the airport is rather flat and bleak. We were heartened by seeing familiar lupines blooming along the runways. The plane taxied seemingly randomly around the airport like it was looking for a place to park, and eventually stopped out in the middle of nowhere, so we had to take a bus to the terminal. Once there, we did a pretty decent job of running through our daily dance, Flights of Fancy, with just two couples. Some of us got a little sleep on the next leg of our journey into Amsterdam, but we were a pretty red-eyed, sorry looking lot by the time we managed our train from the airport and our walk to Conscious Hotel Vondelpark. It was about 3:30 on Wednesday by the time we got settled in. We took naps, declaring that that was the end of Tuesday, and got up around 6:00pm on our Wednesday. This caused a bit of consternation over when to take morning and evening pills, but apparently our bodies worked it out.
We wandered into Amsterdam to find some dinner, and wound up at a Thai place about two blocks from our hotel. After dinner we wandered through the large Vondelpark, that was chock full of very fit Amsterdammers, riding bikes, doing exercise classes, running, playing tennis, or just generally being outside. Our mission was to find the Van Gogh museum so we would know where to show up the next morning and how long it would take us to get there. We wandered for several hours, trying to stay awake until at least 10:30pm – Patrick’s foolproof jet lag adjustment plan. We stopped at a bar for a Heineken – cold and delicious – could have been that we were totally dehydrated, but in my estimation, it was the best Heineken ever. I’m pretty sure we walked more than 5 miles just sightseeing – very enjoyable. Eventually, Holly and Sally declared themselves done, and went to bed. Patrick and I went to a nearby pub, Raleigh and Raymonds, and had another lovely beverage before retiring. Amsterdam is truly a city of bicycles. The middle of the street is for cars, trains, and buses, the lanes outside those are for bicycles, and the lanes outside those are for pedestrians, who should be careful not to stray into the bike lanes without looking, even if there is a truck parked in the pedestrian lane.
Thursday, June 15
Patrick and I got up early to hunt down some coffee. Not before the sun came up, like Holly did, but before most of the coffee places were open. Eventually we found one, enjoyed a small, decent cup, and very much enjoyed our little wander in the cool morning air. We met up with Sally and Holly at 9:00am to retrace our steps from the previous evening to the Van Gogh museum, to arrive at 10:30, the time on our pre-paid tickets. After spending a couple of exhausting hours slowly – ever so slowly – shuffling past all the Van Gogh and friends paintings, we set off in search of lunch. We passed through a park where they were replanting a huge area with rolls of turf. I found this fascinating. We found a lunch place that served breakfast and watched a street musician play his stand up bass and sing while we enjoyed our omelets. Then we walked and walked. Patrick wanted to see “The Old Church”, which is down in the red light district. We saw several old churches, in fact, but it took us a while to find the correct Old Church. We also saw a couple of things that we can’t now unsee, which is unfortunate. We saw a lot of people on bicycles, boats on the canals, and listened to many accents and languages. After we saw The Old Church to our satisfaction, we headed back to the Rembrandt Museum, which is housed the most beautiful building! This museum was much less crowded that the Van Gogh, and the pictures were much easier to see and appreciate. After another couple of hours of art, we were glad to do something else. We had to tempt Sally back to the hotel with the promise of ice cream. There was a certain amount of grumbling about how we were promised only five miles a day and we’ve surely done twice that in each of the last two days. Ice cream is more difficult to track down in Amsterdam than one might think, though, and we ended up finding small cups of Ben & Jerry’s in a seedy little snack joint (very likely a money laundering operation) about a block from our hotel. Over our ice cream, we agreed that we would certainly lose Sally altogether if we didn’t eat down the copious amounts of food she had brought with her. We sent Patrick and Holly back to the grocery store for additional supplies (wine), while I helped Sally limp back to the hotel. We had a lovely picnic in Holly and Sally’s room, which included, but was not limited to, cheese, crackers, carrots, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, tilapia, grapes, apricots, edamame, blueberries, olives, pea crisps, and large bars of chocolate. Obviously we could not have Sally lugging all that across England and Scotland. Once fed, rested, and showered, we got a second wind. Holly went with her camera to explore nearby Rembrandt Park, and Sally, Patrick and I moseyed down to Raleigh and Raymonds, now our favorite pub in Amsterdam to socialize with the locals. We chatted for some time with Vanessa and Rick over a lovely Heineken. We learned a lot about Amsterdam, including where to find the best coffee and apple pie, and a few Dutch words, which were impossible to come by without asking, because as soon as you say “Hello”, the very accommodating locals switch seamlessly to English. We chatted with the bar tender as well – his name was Pepe, but it wasn’t his fault. His English was so good I thought he was from England. Turns out he was born and raised in Amsterdam, but he was pleased that I didn’t think so.
Friday, June 16
We met at 8:00am Friday morning to search out the ‘best coffee in Amsterdam’. It was a bit more windy and therefore more chilly than previous mornings, but having had perfect weather up to this point, we really couldn’t complain. A brisk walk through streets filled with bicycle commuters, plus a little wandering up and down because we either didn’t understand the street numbering or didn’t have the right number brought us to Lot Sixty-One. It was overflowing with people getting coffee. Patrick and I had changed some money to Euros the day before, and each got an Americano. We went outside to drink it, as there was no room in the shop. Sally did not have Euros, and tried to purchase a coffee with her credit card, which didn’t work, so she came out, resigned to a morning with no coffee, when a random guy came out of the shop and put a coffee into her hand. He had witnessed her disappointment and bought her a coffee. Pretty nice! We agreed that it was the best coffee we had had in Amsterdam, but it was not as good as or as large as the coffee we’re used to. We did not try to track down the best apple pie.
Back to the hotel to clean up, pack up, check out, and head for the bus. We had to take two buses to get from Amsterdam to IJmuden (aye moy den). I had spent a good twenty minutes the day before with the desk clerk at the hotel, and had my little card with instructions on how to make the bus transfer, etc. The bus drivers were very helpful, although they did not speak much English, taking care that we got off at the correct stops. When we eventually got to IJmuden, we wandered around the charming but deserted town to see what we could find in the way of lunch. We tried the Gastrobar, but it wasn’t open, so ended up at the Bellevue Café. The food was excellent. Then we headed over to the ferry terminal, where we were all pretty happy to sit still, out of the wind, and drowse in the chairs for an hour or so until it was time to board. Our ‘two berth outside rooms with en suite bath’ were very nice little apartments. We did a little orientation exploration, then had an hour for a proper lying down nap before the ferry actually got underway.
Patrick, Sally, and I went to a wildlife talk where we heard all about all the dolphins we might see. We didn’t go out to the prow for the watch, though, as it was quite cold and windy outside. We went to the night club instead. We watched a preview of the night club act that was due to happen at 10:30pm, listened to some live music (not too bad), had some lovely beverages, and played trivia night with our fellow passengers. We did so well, fifteen correct out of twenty questions, that we were good-naturedly accused of cheating by a raucous group of young Dutchmen at a nearby table, but we didn’t win. Holly joined us, and we went to find a quieter location. We found an almost deserted bar which wasn’t open for drinking with a small dance floor. We tried to adapt the dance A Trip to the Netherlands to a two couple set, but found it quite impossible, and the disco music being piped in overhead wasn’t helping. We wandered over to the “café” for a snack or whatever, enjoyed looking out the big window at the ocean flowing past as we made forward progress, and the gulls passing us on their way to somewhere. We all headed to bed pretty early – a nice restful day in preparation for what’s next.
Saturday, June 17
There isn’t much dark at this latitude at this time of year. I was pretty much asleep when my head hit the pillow, but I was awake again every couple of hours, thinking it was morning. I really enjoyed being out on a big ship on the big ocean, seeing just the water and the sky from my perch on the top bunk. Morning did arrive eventually – clear, chilly, and windy – and Patrick and I moseyed down to the “café” again, hunting for coffee. We ran into Sally on a similar mission. That was the best coffee we had had on that ferry so far – what I mean to say is that even though they printed “quality” on the cup, it didn’t necessarily reflect what was inside.
While we were enjoying – well, drinking – our coffee, Holly was apparently putting in 4 miles running back and forth on deck. Following the coffee, there was a good deal of wandering around on deck for all. It was very exciting to enter the mouth of the Tyne, and lots to look at once we were making our way up the river. We made landfall, got through customs, and took a cab (with 4 of us it was cheaper to take a cab than to buy 4 bus tickets) directly to our first sight-seeing opportunity in Newcastle Upon Tyne, the Millennium Bridge. It is a very cool pedestrian bridge with an arched counterweight, so that it can be raised for river traffic. We walked across and back, found out that there was a “tilt” scheduled for noon, so settled in for brunch at a nearby restaurant to wait. The food was excellent! After watching the “tilt”, we walked back across the bridge and walked along the south shore to the historic Swing Bridge, which we crossed back to the north shore, and that brought us almost directly to the castle steps. There is a very cool castle in Newcastle, and we arrived on a Free Day! Climbing up the steps to the castle on a rather warm day was quite arduous. There were a LOT of steps, and we were still carrying our packs. It was certainly worth the effort though, as there were entertainers in costume, vendors, and a fun, festival atmosphere among the stone steps, multiple alcoves, and hideaways. There was a musician playing a hurdy-gurdy, which, when I asked he was very happy to show me how it all worked – very cool.
Once we had sufficiently explored the castle, we decided we had tortured 70-pound-pack-Sally enough, good thing we had eaten most of her food, and went to look for our hotel. It turned out to be at the top of a long hill, and there was a LOT of additional grumbling about the miles we were putting in. Eventually we found it – the Grainger Hotel – in a fairly dirty part of town, got checked in, and rested for a few minutes. It was further from the city center than anticipated. We walked back into town without packs, as we had errands. We needed local money, a sim card for our local hotspot, and some decongestant. All that being accomplished – took about an hour or so – and we went to hunt down an acceptable pub. Sally pointed out a nearby pub. There was a large bouncer at the door, the hallway was painted flat black, and the stairs took us down to a lightless pit that smelled a good deal like bleached vomit. We decided this was an example of an unacceptable pub. We searched out an acceptable pub, The Charles Grey. We had a lovely snack and a restorative beverage amongst various groups of “mates”.
Upon leaving the pub, Sally wanted to go back to the hotel – by bus. No other options were acceptable. We had to walk down a longish hill to get her to a bus that we knew would go back to the hotel. Then Holly, Patrick, and I walked back up through town to a large park for a wee wander through nature before heading back. I’m afraid our impressions of Newcastle were not completely favorable. It was pretty dirty, not so charming, loud, not friendly, and the dearth of good pubs was fairly sad. After a nice shower to wash off the accumulated layer of scum, though, and a good night’s sleep, all was better again.
Sunday, June 18
We met to head for the train station at 8:00am. We all seemed to be pretty good at getting up and getting going. The walk down the hill in the cool morning air was quite nice. Sally is fine with down. Newcastle Central Station is quite spacious. We found a ticket kiosk and got tickets for the 9:10 train to Bardon Mill, which left us time for a wee coffee or juice. The train ride itself was uneventful, but it was great to finally be out in the English countryside. We were the only four people to get off at Bardon Mill – a tiny station in the middle of nowhere – completely silent once the train had pulled away. There were no signs, but only one road into town, and eventually we found the footpath with a sign pointing to Vindolanda – this is a very large ruin of a Roman Fort, with a museum of artifacts. It was a two-mile hike through very pleasant forests and fields with a great overlook of the site. There was some grumbling about climbing up, only to have to climb down, but most of us were getting immune to such things by then.
We spent about an hour and a half individually soaking up as much information about Roman Centurions and Cavalry, along with everything that went with an encampment of that size. Apparently, wives and children encamped along with their soldier husbands. There was an amazing display of leather shoes that had been preserved in layers of mud – very ghillie-esque. Also preserved in the mud were letters on tablets – thrilling to the archaeologists, as so much of the history is so well preserved. We got back together at the little café for lunch. I had a gigantic baked potato, overflowing with tuna salad and a side salad. All the food looked amazing for a museum café. We ate outdoors on the patio surrounded by charming little beggar birds, some so bold as to join us on the table!
NAMES OF CERTAIN RSCDS DANCES – bits of trivia and background
by Mel Whitson
based on the writings of George S. Emmerson in his book Scotland Through Her Country Dances
Many of the older dances that were collected and published by the Society bear intriguing or mysterious names – at least when viewed through the lens of a present day North American dancer. Here are insights into a few dance names.
- How about a dance named after an artificial fishing fly? That would be “The Duran Ranger.” The title appears to be a corruption of Durham Ranger; the latter was the name of a fly that was used by salmon fishermen and was developed by one James Wright around 1865 for the use of a group of anglers from Durham.
- This one sounds like it’s about an animal, but…. “The Crookit Horned Ewie” is another name for a whiskey still!
- And speaking of sheep, is “Lamb Skinnet” about farming or at least about lambs? Probably not. It appears to be the name of a card game of German origin circa the 1680’s.
“Corn Rigs” and “The Lea Rig” – no , these are not references to a type of conveyance. The word “rig” is thought to refer to the run-rig system of farming in which fields were divided among a number of joint tenants in the form of strips or “rigs.” And just to make it a little more confusing, the word “corn” is used as a generic term for grains, and in particular, for oats. The Scots did not grow corn (a North American native plant). From Edward Dwelly’s quintessential Gàidhlig - English dictionary, “roinn-ruithe sf Run-rig, division or common run. This system of occupying land is often spoken of as mór-earrann, (great division) or mór-fhearann, (great land). It prevailed, of old, all over the British Islands and the continent of Europe and was common in Ireland. It is now extinct in England and obsolete in Scotland except in parts of the Western Isles.” Edward Dwelly is revered to this day in the Gàidhealtachd and was quite the piper. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Dwelly ~ The Editor
- “Cadgers in the Canongate” sounds like it could be referring to pick pockets on the streets of Edinburgh. However, a cadger was a hired carrier of goods. Canongate is an historic street in Edinburgh (“gate” comes from the German word for road or way).
- So “Jenny Dang the Weaver.” Say what? Is this some old Scottish sexual innuendo? Of course not! (This dance was published by the RSCDS after all). No, “dang” means to strike or to get the better of (the back story on Jenny might be interesting to learn more about….)
- Then there’s “Jenny’s Bawbee” about which one might speculate is a reference to jewelry. Well, a bawbee can be shiny, at least in the way that a new penny is shiny, because a bawbee was a unit of money. For context and a laugh, here are relative values of old Scottish coins:
Dyot = 1 penny Boddle = 2 penny Groat or Plack = 4 penny Bawbee = 6 penny Shilling = 12 penny Merk = 13 shillings and 4 Dyot Pound = 20 shillings
- And here’s one of my favorites: “The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow.” It turns out that a “rock” is a spinning wheel and a “wee pickle” is a small piece of “tow,’ the latter being flax that has been prepared for weaving. Spinners used to take their rocks to communal gatherings/neighboring cottages to spin and socialize concurrently. Long after home spinning ceased, a Scot may have been heard to tell a neighbor that they were planning to come round with their rock – which simply meant they were coming over for a social visit.
- “Knit the Pocky” – if you are thinking knitting, at last you are on the right track! A “pocky” is a glove (presumably knitted) without the fingertips.
Growth Mindset and Identity
by Tom Halpenny
Why is it that over 95 percent of the public do no dancing of any kind? If we could learn the reasons and adapt marketing in order to address the mental blocks, then we could improve recruiting and retaining new Scottish dancers.
We observe that each folk dance form is practiced by a small fraction of one percent of the population. Yet each dance form has passionate social groups of dancers who enjoy the physical and mental health benefits that much of the public would like but most lack the curiosity to explore. I have been learning about Fixed versus Growth Mindsets, and also the Identity model, in order to improve my understanding of motivation for learning dancing and joining a social group.
People often make statements like, “I’m no good at dancing,” or, “I tried dancing and I am a klutz.” I have had the opportunity to meet around 300 people who tried square dance lessons over the past three years. Seventy percent learn about the lessons from friends and family. I am fascinated to observe fresh brains gradually learn the dance skills. New dancers are frequently nervous about trying square dance, evidenced by clammy palms or clinging grip while dancing. I scan the hall during lesson breaks for anyone who is not engaged in conversation, and I walk over to talk with them. I gesture around the hall and say that they are going to meet all these friendly people, and we will learn some square dancing as a bonus. This relaxes new dancers and helps them enjoy the lessons.
According to Stanford Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck, “Having a fixed mindset led you to be afraid of challenges that might unmask your deficiencies, made you withdraw in the face of difficulty because you felt stupid. You didn’t want to feel stupid. You didn’t want other people to think you’re stupid. Whereas having this growth mindset, the idea that your abilities could be developed, made you think, why waste my time looking smart when I could be getting smarter? And I do that through taking on challenges. I do that through seeing them through."
Professor Dweck continues, “When you call someone smart, you put them on a pedestal. And their life becomes organized around deserving the pedestal. And you can only do that by narrowing your life to include only things you’re sure you can succeed at. When we tell someone, you did that so quickly, I’m so impressed, they hear, if I didn’t do it quickly, you wouldn’t be impressed. A lot of things take a long time. Or you got an A without working, then they think, oh, if I work, you’re not going to think I’m smart at math, say. And so you’re just very subtly conveying these ideas that smart people don’t make mistakes, smart people don’t have to work hard, the most important thing in the world is to be smart and look smart at all times. And then people start narrowing their world so they can succeed within that fixed mindset."
The Fixed Mindset where people are psychologically blocked from exploring something new reminds me of my experience with fellow Hewlett Packard engineers. Liza taught a weekly lunchtime SCD class at HP, with John Shaw and myself as support members. A surprising result was that the great majority of these supposedly creative engineers lacked the curiosity to walk 100 feet to a conference room to try something new. We can read the 2006 newsletter item titled [[http://www.rscds-swws.org/news/200603/vol22-5.htm|Scottish Country Dance Comes to Hewlett Packard]].
Another psychology factor is the Identity model, compared with the Consequences model, for how people make decisions, described by the Heath Brothers in their book titled Switch. The rational side of the brain uses the Consequences model and weighs the costs and benefits of our options, and makes the choice that maximizes our satisfaction. The stronger emotional side of the brain uses the Identity model to evaluate a situation and ask, “What would someone like me do in this situation?" As we develop and grow in an identity, it becomes an increasingly important part of our self-image and influences our decision making, to join a social group for example.
We can use these concepts in order to recruit and retain dancers. Given that most people have a strong fixed mindset when they consider trying Scottish dance, we need to communicate emotionally compelling marketing messages that avoid triggering feeling or looking stupid, and instead focus on other beneficial feelings. Many people are lonely and are interested in making new friends. Some people are interested in moving to the music. Some are interested in the challenge to learn new dance skills. Some would like a lifelong activity to lose weight or remain healthy. Women are more open to trying dance compared with men; women will often bring their men with them or else they come solo and report back how much fun they had.
As new dancers continue to learn the dance skills, the teacher can communicate the Growth Mindset expectation that making a lot of mistakes is part of dancing and it’s nothing to get excited about, and teach recovery from mistakes as a useful skill. We can read the related newsletter item titled [[http://www.rscds-swws.org/news/stories/mistakes.htm|Gold Star! Recovery Is Important, Not the Mistake]].
For retaining dancers, as they continue to make friends and learn the dancing skills, they develop an identity with the dance group. The friendships build group loyalty with the dancing skill as the common interest, and some members will be keen to develop their dancing with the Growth Mindset.
Scotland 2016, Part Three
by Martin MacKenzie
With this last report, detailing what I call the third and final leg of our journey, we traveled from Aberdeen, down the eastern seaboard of Scotland towards Perth, then on to Edinburgh for two days and back to Glasgow for the final flight home.
This was to be the final leg with the rental car and to me at least, this was the most like driving in the states than most all other journeys driving around Scotland. We largely travelled down the A90, a bit like a mini-freeway that goes down the east coast. There was a somewhat familiar reader board admonishing drivers to visit a tourist web site. Out with this, I remembered very little advertising of any kind by the side of the road attempting to entice passersby. Sadly, we of need passed by famous places loaded with historical significance we had not the time to visit like Montrose, Abroath, St. Andrews and the like.
Upon arrival back at Perth to drop off the rental car and the unusable GPS, we learned from the young representative that a non functional cigarette lighter jack was not de rigueur and the odd hard starting when the vehicle was warm from a long drive wasn’t normal. Thus though this driver was just a little bit miffed, however the representative, like everyone we had met in Scotland was appropriately and sincerely apologetic thus helping to smooth over any remaining ruffled feathers. I chuckled a wee bit under my breath when I learned that the representative was from England and the car itself had been sent up from there.
After the rental agency dropped us off at Perth railway station, we headed down to Edinburgh with only minor confusion interpreting reader boards and selecting correct trains. It was also helpful to have on board WiFi so that the navigation software could be used to confirm or deny the accuracy of train selection during the journey after boarding. The train on this leg was almost empty thus there weren’t many opportunities to meet local Scots outside of the cities and towns.
Upon arrival at Haymarket station, just a short walk across the street, and many tram tracks, we make our way to the Tune Hotel. This is an Indonesian owned and run chain which is billed as inexpensive lodging, which we found to not be true during the high season of tourism in Edinburgh. This was an über modern facility with rfid card access to everything, and that means everything, including power to the room itself. The room was barely large enough for the bed, the toilet facilities, and its occupants. This was the antithesis of historic hotels, friendly B & Bs, or very fancy properties loaded with old world charm that we had experienced heretofore. However, it served us well enough and the hotel had a relationship with the restaurant next door to us called Platform 5, I believe in reference to one of the platforms at Haymarket railway station across the street. The quality was quite good, the staff friendly and helpful and this was quite handy to have access to without going out to the street when Scotland’s weather had a mood change.
Edinburgh itself, particularly at this time of the year, is chockablock with tourists, musicians, actors, comedians, buskers and poets as well as odd characters like Darth Vader and the famous alien from Ridley Scott’s Alien series. This was during the Edinburgh Fringe or Festival, known the world over. The city itself is Scotland’s capital city, its second largest, and goes back in Scottish history as far back as approximately 8500 BC. More detail can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edinburgh
Again, as in Glasgow early on in the journey, we took in a Viator hop on hop off bus tour which we gained after taking the train to Waverly station in the downtown core. It was again helpful at least in gaining a minimum understanding of the historic downtown core. Locations, sites, and statuary included the new Scottish parliament building, St. Gile’s Church and Greyfriar’s Bobby, Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, The National Museum, The Sir Walter Scott memorial, Edinburgh Castle, and a famous American Civil War president whom I’ll let the reader divine from the photos.
Out with those, I observed some rather interesting quirks and characteristics.
Waverly railway station is also a mall. Inside is a large two story McDonald’s there and this is a very popular haunt with teenagers. The day we were running about town, we stopped there for a meal and though we didn’t eat there, I scouted it out and the establishment was packed, both floors full, with teenagers.
Edinburgh is also a very diverse city with folks having settled there from all over the world.
One of our more interesting interactions was with a family run restaurant that serves Middle Eastern dishes from Iraq, their country of origin. As we’re fans of the recent series of Marvel movies, in homage to the first Avengers movie I ordered schwarma, a dish I was familiar with from having it in a restaurant in Gresham, Oregon. Their version was more sandwich like being wrapped in Pita bread as a hand held dish as opposed to what we had experienced at Gresham which was served more formally in a plate. While eating, one of the family members sat down and we had a short conversation with her and as I knew the movie reference, asked her if she had seen the Avengers movie. She replied that she had and loved it. I replied asking if she had watched it all the way to the end past the credits, where there is a scene that where all the Avengers characters are slumped around a table after the final epic battle eating schwarma at Tony Starks favorite “schwarma joint." She hadn’t and was very enthusiastic about renting the movie and seeing that. Here’s a little bit about this dish here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma
Edinburgh, with all its gravitas as the capital city of Scotland, the location of one of the most esteemed universities, the University of Edinburgh, its history as the center of activities surrounding the Scottish Enlightenment, and the stage upon which Robert Burns often plied his trade is also a town full of ordinary people who are just like folks you might encounter in the States.
The second day of our visit in Edinburgh and though I had a method planned to be transported up to the Castle Esplanade for the 2016 Edinburgh Military Tattoo, I decided to bin that in favor of taking a taxi. The cab driver that picked us up and took us up to the Esplanade area was an amiable sort who was willing to talk to American tourists and being a long time Edinburgh resident, he was full of stories about its history during his lifetime. I commented about the new Edinburgh airport tram system and how slick and beautiful it is comparing it to our own light rail system in the Portland Metropolitan area and that prompted a conversation. Though he agreed that it was nice, he was none too pleased as he remembered the days that there were electric trolleys running all over town but these were then torn up and then decades later replaced with this system which he groused, “cost £9bn for seven miles of track."
Our last event in Edinburgh before departure the next day for home was the 2016 Edinburgh Military Tattoo. If you want to experience a little flavor of what this was like, BBC Alba has posted the entire Tattoo with Gàidhlig commentary as well as English subtitles for you to enjoy at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvWGB8gDLDE We decided that our favorite was the New Zealand Army Band. Scroll to 53:50 and see if you don’t agree.
However, I want to give some more personal observations of this event here. First, Scots are very proud of their traditions, military and otherwise, and we could hear that when as they were responding to and talking amongst themselves all about us about the various events during the Tattoo. Secondly, there are bands and acts that come to participate, audience members who come to enjoy the Tattoo, and staff people from all over the world who come and work during that season. One example of the latter was a young lady from Ohio we met who helped us recover from a scheduling snafu on my part and find seats for us on ground level. Lastly, this is an event with performers of all ages, not just seasoned veterans. The Tattoo is also an event that is performed elsewhere in the Commonwealth countries of Australia and New Zealand. Here’s an example of this with the New Zealand Army Band playing in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Melbourne Australia this very year at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Aw1Q2ktDLM
Sadly, the next day after that was the final leg of our journey beginning with packing up and head back to Glasgow for our flight home. However, interesting events were to continue. After riding the train back to Glasgow, arriving at Queen Street station downtown, I whistled up the cab company to arrange transport from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Again, the Glasgwegian dialect was to play merry hob with my communications abilities. Though the call center representative was reasonably understandable, once the cab arrived, it was repeatedly necessary to use the polite phrase “I’m sorry, my hearing isn’t so good" several times as I discussed our needs with the cab driver. Of all Glaswegians, his dialect was the most opaque. Having said that, he was quite helpful and amiable and deposited us in good order at Glasgow Airport for our flight home.
Once clearing security, we found one last surprise awaiting us. There was a maze of shops arrayed along a well designed serpentine path leading from the security screening area to our gate. Everything from Scotch whiskeys to clothing to perfumes and miscellaneous Scottish tourist foofoo like pens with Scottish flags printed on them were available. Adam Smith of “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” fame would have been proud. We gawked and annoyed one shopkeeper when I inadvertently set off some kind of anti-theft alarm. However, true to Scottish reputations for thriftiness, we did not leave any more tourist dollars in Scotland.
All in all, a worthy journey for the MacKenzies of Clackamas. My only regret was not having time to fully take in everything we saw and experienced while we were there experiencing it.
Here’s something to listen to while you enjoy the final photos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vaRatJj1EQ