Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Monday, June 17, 2013

How to Dance the Gay Gordons by Robert Bayley

Welcome to History Undressed, guest blogger, Robert Bayley, who's written an awesome post today on Scottish dancing! Enjoy and seriously, practice these moves! 

How to Dance the Gay Gordons Like a Professional

by Robert Bayley

So you want to dance the Gay Gordons? Right, laddies don your kilts. For lassies long skirts and flat shoes will see you through (heels are a no-no for Scottish country dancing – many a nasty injury has been had that way on the dance floor). If you don't have a kilt then dinnie worry you'll still have a great time dancing this old-time Scottish dance.

Let's get started
First off let's see how the professionals do it, dancing along to the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.The key to this dance is getting the starting pose right with your partner. Ladies slightly to the front, right arm up holding your partner's hand that he rests on your shoulder. Left arm reaches across the front of the man to hold his right hand.

Then it's as simple as four steps forward, turn, and four steps back. Once again and then ladies, twirl under your man's arm using the pas de basque dance step for four bars. Or just hop around a little (no one will notice).  Finally polka for four bars, and repeat. Don't forget to call out 'whoop' to help whip the dancers into a frenzy of twirling tartan until you are all exhausted.

Put your dancing shoes on

The best place to dance the Gay Gordons is of course Scotland. There are plenty of ceilidhs in Edinburgh for visitors keen to try out their moves. There are also Scottish dancing societies all over the world, in fact where ever the Scottish diaspora has settled you'll find their music and dance. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society has been going strong since 1923 teaching dance and keeping Scotland's rich cultural heritage alive. They have branches on every continent – so what are you waiting for? Get searching for your nearest shindig.

Once you've mastered the Gay Gordons, the only way is up. Luckily most ceilidhs will have a caller who will explain each dance before you get started and include a short walk through. Some of the most popular dances include Strip the Willow, the Dashing White Sergeant and the Eightsome Reel. As you can see not all of these are partner dances so you don't have to worry about finding someone to dance with. The best thing to do is just wander out onto the floor at the beginning and you're bound to find your way into a friendly group. Ceilidhs are for the most part very relaxed and welcoming and an invitation to dance is usually just that and nothing more - the more people on the floor the better after all. A small dram of whisky can help warm you up for a waltz but don’t worry if you don't drink. In fact if you're going to go the distance at a ceilidh the best thing you can do is keep well hydrated with water.

Who is this Gordon chap anyway?

The title of this dance actually refers to the Gordon Highlanders, a Scottish regiment famous for their hard won battles in India, Egypt and South Africa. It's no surprise that this band of brothers have a dance named in their honour. Since the regiment was raised in 1794 the role of music, especially the pipes and drums, has been central to their identity. The Gordon Highlanders are famous for bravely playing their comrades into battle, rousing their courage as well as creating fear in the hearts of their enemies.

What's your favorite Scottish dance? 

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