Elena: Dancing in North America

During her travels to North America in December 2019, club member Elena Lark found some welcoming groups to dance with. She tells us about her experiences below.

Greensboro, North Carolina

First my work took me to Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. There is one group in Greensboro (the city population is about 290,000), the Greensboro Scottish Country Dance Society

Mary McConnell, the tutor of many years, was very welcoming. The format of the night, as expected, was familiar, similar to what we are used to in Johnsonville. Though most of the dances were new to me, all the formations were familiar.

Elena, third from right, with dancers in Greensboro

There were two sets on the floor. Among interesting things, there were three students from the local university attending the club within a ‘study dancing of the world’ programme, where they visit various dancing groups and participate. The night started with a couple of ceilidh dances to get the new students involved.

Another interesting thing the club is practicing – a few of more experienced dancers take turns in teaching one dance a night for the rest of the group. This way, Mary can have some rest and the other dancers have a chance to practice their teaching skills.

The members of the club were surprised to hear that we have supper in the middle of the dance night, though they did appreciate New Zealand chocolate!

Toronto, Canada

After North Carolina, I went to Toronto for about a week. I googled Toronto Scottish Country Dancing in advance and was surprised by the number of events – there are 2-3 options for dancing every night of the week.

Elena, second from left, with the Shiftin’ Bobbins dancers

I landed on Saturday and the first event on was at a Shiftin’ Bobbins Scottish Country Dancing Social Group. They dance at the Grace Church on-the Hill and I managed to travel there on the Toronto underground and through the snow.

This social group turned out to be at quite an advanced level. It was a challenge to keep up, especially with unfamiliar square-set dances, like the Twelvesome Reel. But the group was very welcoming and patient with me. They invited me to a few other events over the week.

I can only recommend joining Scottish Country Dancing groups wherever you are travelling! It is a great way to feel welcome in a new place and to meet the locals as well as doing something you like.

from Elena Lark

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