Date: 15 February 2015.
Location: Milli Vanilli cafe, Shoreditch. Eating the best sausage roll of my life.
“The Virginia Reel!”
The emcee on the hall’s stage is, disappointingly, not kilted but is to be forgiven as he has a beautiful Scottish brogue, great lungs and a love of the dance.
We’re in the Hammersmith Town Hall at an evening hosted by London’s Cèilidh club. We’re Scottish dancing. Trying to. The room is packed and, yes, there are kilts amongst the crowd, though not as many as we girls would have liked — and none of us get cozy enough with one to work out the answer to that question.
It’s such a blast.
At the start of each new dance you grab a partner and form a set of, say 6 couples. Then you’re walked through the dance. Then there’s music and the spinning, stepping, flinging and do-se-doing gets real. Halfway through Stripping The Willow for the second time I feel a little unwell, but that’s probably more the cheap wine’s fault than the dance’s.
About ten of us have come together. All girls. All prettyish. All tipsy. All loud. We’re half of the Cèilidh club’s dream guests, and the other half’s worst nightmare. We garner a share of dirty looks from the local girls out for a night with their boyfriends. Of course, we haven’t planned this so well as it is Valentine’s Day and the likelhood of finding a single lad voluntarily at a Scottish Dance does indeed seem slim. But this doesn’t even slow us down. Half of us join mens’ lines and this, when combined with liquor consumption and general clumsiness, does make for some confusing dancing. It’s hard, after four wines, to remember to respond to directions called out for ‘Top Gentleman!’
The dancing ends too soon and, after a pit stop at a chip shop, we’re back on the Tube towards East London. We lose one tired lass at Holborn. By the time we reach Angel I’ve become the second casualty. The week — work, wines, commutes, reels — has taken its toll, it’s past midnight and I want Family Guy and bed.
The whole experience has inspired me to move Scotland higher up my ‘to see’ list. We’ve tentatively planned a summer Edinborough Fringe Festival journey (along with those to Ibiza, Munich for Octoberfest, Budapest) but I think a highlands trip may be just the thing for a crisp March weekend. And with my new skills I’ll blend right in, duh.