At the beginning of November, Perth welcomes an annual event that is pretty unique. Where else can you expect to see people from all corners of the globe, congregating in a sports coaching hall, dressed in the finest kilts and Scottish dresses, doing Strip the Willow or The Gay Gordons?
From Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th November, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society will hold its annual AGM and Conference at Bell’s Sports Centre with dances and classes open to the public to come along and enjoy. This unique event is expected to draw hundreds of Scottish country dancers from around the world, in a weekend which celebrates our country’s rich history and culture.
The event this year comes off the back of the successful ceilidh fitness classes – you may remember our ‘Cannae Beat a Ceilidh’ article which you can read here – and the man who has led the classes, Bernie Hewitt, is heavily involved in the weekend of Scottish country dancing at Bell’s.
It all kicks off with a teaching conference which is open to anybody who may be interested in starting their own Scottish country dance classes, before the annual welcoming dance and a ceilidh which is open to all, and Bernie hopes it will be well attended by the people of Perth. The weekend is great for Perth because people come here from all over the world.
“It’s a young up and coming band that always plays at the welcoming dance and this year it’s Scott Band – a fantastic accordion player. We run the ceilidh separate to the welcoming dance in the coaching hall and no previous experience is required; we’ve got one of the country’s best ceilidh callers who’ll take people through all of the dances!”
The ceilidh is a new feature for 2017 and the music will be provided by Triple Trouble Ceilidh Band. Many of the attendees of Bernie’s ceilidh fitness classes have already got their tickets for what is sure to be a fun night to kick off the weekend.
It’s a big thing for Perthshire and the region will be welcoming up to 500 dancers who’ll be around the city, with many from overseas usually making a holiday of the event. It’s sure to provide a boost to the local economy and with over 12,000 members worldwide, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and Bernie feel that Perth and in particular Bell’s Sports Centre is the perfect place for the event.
“The weekend is great for Perth because people come here from all over the world and they’re not just coming for three days and bogging off – they stay and appreciate everything the region has to offer. There are so many great bed and breakfast and accommodation providers in Perthshire, all of which help to make the experience so great for our members.
“The thing about Perth and Bell’s Sports Centre is that the facilities are just superb. To get that many people into somewhere for an entire weekend is difficult, but we can always manage it here and that’s mainly down to the members of staff who are all absolutely fantastic.
“The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is on every continent in the world apart from Antarctica. We’re strong in ex-pat countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia but believe it or not we also have branches and members where you might not expect – such as Germany, France and even Japan!
“It spreads Scottish culture and the Scottish way of doing things into all of these different countries. It’s often the locals rather than the ex-pats who get involved, try it and absolutely love it. We’re expecting people from branches of the RSCDS around the world to be in Perth at the start of November and I can’t wait!”
The weekend will include dance classes for the public as well as the AGM and Conference itself which will be held on Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening is the main event with a formal dance taking place that Bernie has assured me is worth attending for the fashion alone.
“Everyone dresses to impress and they’ll be wearing fantastic kilts and dresses – everybody comes in their absolute finery. The coaching hall will be packed with terrific dancers in the very best of Scottish dress, it’s well worth coming along!”
If you love a bit of Scottish dancing and want to get involved in a weekend of great fun and socialising then why not head down to Bell’s Sports Centre on the first weekend of November in your finest tartan and enjoy what is an action-packed schedule celebrating some of the best things about Scottish culture.
The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has 160 branches and over 300 affiliated groups worldwide. The society has been promoting Scottish country dancing and its music since 1923.
To book tickets for any of the weekend’s events, visit the RSCDS website.
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