A group of Angus friends are sharing their love of Scottish country dancing across the world, discovers Caroline Lindsay
Every Sunday afternoon Irene Geoghegan and husband Tom get together with a group of friends in an Angus village hall to practise Scottish country dancing.
Known collectively as the Tay Dancers, they’re not just reaping the benefits of burning calories, keeping fit, reducing stress and making chums for life – they regularly share videos of their dances online to encourage people young and old to go along to organised Scottish country dances or ceilidhs.
Irene, head of research and development for a soft fruit company, explains: “Most of the Scottish Country dances have written cribs (instructions) and these can be found on scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com
“However, many of the dances don’t have videos attached and because most people feel more comfortable being able to physically see the pattern of the dance before going along, we always produce a programme prior to an event.”
The group is now so sought after that they have followers from not just the UK but 50 different countries from around the world, including the Far East and Australia.
“We’ve had people sending emails asking for us to perform and upload specific dances and to date we have had well over 200,000 views,” smiles Irene.
“They have been praised on the clarity of their filming which makes it so much easier to follow the pattern of the dances.
“What started off as a bit of amusement has ended up being a fantastic dancing aid to thousands of people.”
In a bid to bring Scottish country dancing to a wider audience in Courier Country, Irene and another member of the group contacted the Dundee group of the University of the Third Age (U3A) to ask if they offered Scottish country dancing.
“The answer was no but if we wanted to start a new group then they would provide the backing,” says Irene. “So we started just over three years ago in Ardler Complex in Dundee, every fortnight from 2-4pm on a Monday, starting with eight interested people.
“Now we have approximately 60 people on the books, and as everyone is just starting out, there is much less pressure to be perfect and everyone can learn and have a few laughs in the process,” she continues.
New members are always welcome at the U3A group. as long as they fit the criteria of the U3A (see u3asites.org.uk for details).
“It is suitable for both men and women, no dance partner is necessary and no dancing experience is required,” says Irene.
“We do easy Scottish country and ceilidh dances, and all the dances are ‘walked through’.
“The aims of the class are to have some fun, meet new friends and get a bit of exercise, all in a stress-free environment. It doesn’t matter whether you’re eight or 80 – just get up and dance.”