Cape Town Callies St Andrews Nicht - 2014


Dancing was a key component of our recent St Andrew’s Nicht ceilidh with Highland dancing and Scottish Country dancing both included in the celebrations.

First up was the popular ceilidh dance for all, the Gay Gordons. The Cape Field Artillery Pipes and Drums provided a stirring set of tunes including Scotland the Brave and Sarie Marias for guests to dance to.

The next dancing item on the programme was a display of Highland dancing performed by Caitlin Foley from the Claddagh Studio and Shona McLean from the Celtic Dance Tapestry. The energetic piece was choreographed by Caitlin and was a combination of a sword dance and a Half Reel of Tulloch.

The eight Scottish Country dancers then took the audience on a journey in the footsteps of Flora McDonald. Flora is famous for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland after the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Flora and the Prince set sail in a small boat from Benbecula on 27th June 1746, to Skye. From Skye the Prince was able to get a boat to the island of Raasay and then a passage back to France.

Benbecula is a small island between North and South Uist in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The first dance was a strathspey called Culla Bay which is a bay found on this island of Benbecula after which we travelled 'over the sea to Skye’. The second dance was a reel, Macleod's Tables. Macleod’s Tables are two flat-topped mountains that dominate the landscape of the Duirinish peninsula in the north-west of Skye. Their Gaelic names are Healabhal Mhòr and Healabhal Bheag. This dance rather appropriately included a link to St Andrew, sire of the Saltire, as the dancers formed the pattern of a St Andrew’s cross a couple of times during the dance.

After the supper break and the toast to Saint Andrew it was time for the audience to shed their heels and put on their dancing pumps and ghillies for dancing led by Heather Hodgson. I like to think that some of the guests learnt “There are shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them!” ― Vicki Baum, Ballerina.

The evening also saw the debut of a new dance in support of DAN: the marching Rhino. DAN is an affectionate character whose name sadly stands for Days Are Numbered. DAN was created to raise awareness and funds for the plight of our Rhino. Members of the Cape Field Artillery (CFA) Pipes and Drums have adopted DAN as a cause and all proudly sport a rhino lapel badge on their waistcoats. Guests at the St Andrews night event were offered the opportunity to show their support for this conservation initiative and purchase a badge for just R30 to wear on their sash or jacket and help stamp out poaching.

DAN: the dancing Rhino is a 32 bar reel. It is an easy round the room dance for couples devised by Heather Hodgson and tells the story of the fight against Rhino poaching and aims to draw awareness to this campaign.


1 - 8 All take hands to support cause and work together as dance four hands round and back.

9 - 16 All dance right hands across and back with the left. (We are cross X, we are against poaching, we say no X to poaching; we have poachers in our cross-hairs.)

17 - 24 All turn right hand with the dancer opposite; all dance back to back with partner. (Make new partnerships, get back to basics; dance shape of rhino horn.)

25 – 32 1st and 2nd couples advance and retire; all pass dancer opposite right shoulder to dance on to meet a new couple. All stamp twice. (Sometimes two steps forward, two steps backward but we move on to stamp out poaching.)

If you enjoyed the Scottish Country dancing in the ceilidh portion of the evening then perhaps you’d like to sign-up for the next introductory course starting in February 2015. It is a great way to exercise and burn off calories. Email for further details or follow us on Twitter -@RSCDSCapeTown. Newcomers are always welcome on the dance floor.