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Western Oz Words: Would I Do It Again?

…Dancing is one of the most primitive forms of human art and expression. Watch how even the smallest children will move into dance as soon as the music starts….

Margaret Dunn has a great night of song and dance at the Scottish Ceilidh organised by the St Andrew Society in Perth, Western Australia.

It was the Saturday night I had been looking forward to. The St Andrew Society of Western Australia in Perth was holding one of their lively social events – a Scottish Ceilidh.

This is a fairly informal party with a local band playing music for the energetic Scottish country dancing. There would be lashings of good food and enough drink to oil the throats for the vocal contribution that is part of the dance.

Location was the Carlisle Bowling Club Hall: music by the Heel and Toe Scottish Dance Band. The company was a good brew of Scots, most of the gentlemen in kilts, English, and Australians with a few other stray nationalities thrown in to spice the mixture. The friends I was with were Scots, English and Australians, all with a love for Scottish music and a willingness to join the dance.

After a few small sensations of whisky, draughts of beer and tipplings of red wine we were ready to strut our stuff. The band broke us in gently with a waltz, then the real hard yakka began – reels and jigs at high speeds which most of the company were happy to join in.

Not all of those on the floor were experienced dancers – some courageous souls were venturing into eightsome reels for the first time, which must have felt something like falling into a food mixer! But the brave Scottish lads in kilts kept them to the rhythm, gently nudging and pulling them through the intricate movements – like Celtic sheepdogs coaxing their charges into the fold. Everyone danced with energy and glee, marching forth to meet the next set of dancers, giving voice to a great heooch as they made contact.

All this activity whetted our appetites and as the band retired for an interval we headed for the splendid platters of food set out at the back of the hall. This was to give us strength for the second part of the programme. We were exchanging jokes and comments with the guests at a nearby table and found that some of them were from New Zealand.

When the band came back on it was announced that a Kiwi gentleman would give a demonstration of the Haka and one of our neighbours from the next table, a tall dark-haired man, made his way onto the floor. After some discussion, the band leader announced that some Scots would be joining in the performance. So we watched in astonishment as the Kiwi and four kilted Scots acted out the ferocious movements of this ritual. Needless to say, the Scots weren’t quite up to the standard of the chief performer, but they did manage to look fierce.

By the end of the evening, everyone was in a happy mood, moving into sleep mode and ready to go home. Dancing is one of the most primitive forms of human art and expression. Watch how even the smallest children will move into dance as soon as the music starts. In a world where massive amounts of our resources are used in the manufacture of weapons of warfare, and young boys in military schools are taught how to kill and maim each other and destroy society, perhaps a few good ceilidhs would bring some balance and make life worth living.

For my part, that evening of music, dance and good friendship gave great satisfaction.

And Would I do it again?? YES YES YES. Same Time Next Year – Same Band, Same Place.


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