Forget guidelines, ceilidhs are already insanely inclusive - Susan Morrison

​A ceilidh is a wonderful thing. Few other nations have so successfully created and then maintained the sheer madness of high-speed country dancing.
We knew what to do if we ever found ourselves in a Canadian barn whilst a dance was going on, says Susan MorrisonWe knew what to do if we ever found ourselves in a Canadian barn whilst a dance was going on, says Susan Morrison
We knew what to do if we ever found ourselves in a Canadian barn whilst a dance was going on, says Susan Morrison

Look at our poor deprived cousins in the South. All they’ve got are those Jane Austen-type dances, those delicate cotillions and quadrilles, where ladies skipped about in floaty dresses and flirted with the boys with prospects.

All terribly civilised.

They chat when they’re dancing. We scream. We hurl ourselves into our country dancing and wallop into each other like molecules in the Large Hadron Collider.

It’s not strictly dancing. It’s a contact sport.

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It’s so dangerous we train our soldiers to do it. Our troops learn not just battlefield logistics but the correct position of the foot during the Pas-de-basque.

The Reel of the 51st was actually created by the officers of the regiment being held in a World War Two prisoner of war camps.

It’s insanely complicated. They smuggled out the instructions, but the Germans intercepted the letter and spent the rest of the war trying to break what they thought was a code of some kind.

It’s an essential part of our education. The mere sight of an old-fashioned black sand-shoe, known in Glasgow as "gutties”, can trigger violent PTSD flashbacks of standing in the school gym waiting to be paired up with one of the smelly boys to learn how to Gay Gordon.

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It was possible to avoid touching them, by pulling your cardigan sleeve down over your hands, but Mrs MacIntosh was having none of that, and cardis had to be removed.

Angela Mitchell said after dancing with two different boys that she was never going near them again.

Their hands were sweaty and horrible. She had heard, she told us, of a place where you didn’t have to talk to boys, called Lesbia. She was going to live there when she grew up. Curiously enough, she did.

And on that note, I should apologise to all the boys I was paired with. You didn’t smell and were just as terrified of Mrs MacIntosh as me.

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But, by jingo, we learned just how Gay those Gordons were, we knew what to do if we ever found ourselves in a Canadian barn whilst a dance was going on, and how to treat sprained ankles at the end of a particularly wild Strip the Willow, not that there is any other kind.

Ceilidhs are gloriously mad, and so I fear that the efforts of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS) to improve reel etiquette are doomed.

They’ve issued new guidelines to make the reels less gendered and more inclusive.

News to me that they weren’t.

Yes, everyone knows a reel has a man side and woman side, but if the blokes have buckled after a Dashing White Sergeant, the gals will always make the up numbers.

Ceilidhs are insanely inclusive.

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In fact, trying to sit out a St Bernards Waltz can be a challenge, but that’s what the buffet table is for.

Few people will hassle you for a turn around the dance floor when you have a wee sausage roll in your hand.

Mind you, it came as a mild shock to me to discover there’s a sort of Ceilidh Head Office at all. I quite like the idea that the reels and the waltzes are being protected, so thank you RSCDS.

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