Good-natured confusion is key to ceilidh

A Scottish dancing group is keen to welcome new members.

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The club, in Vernet-les-Bains, Pyrénées-Orientales, is run by Derek Taylor, who said: “We always have an open door.

“We are not an association, as I did not want committees and payments, but run it under the auspices of Le Casino, where it is held, and anyone can come and join in when they wish to. There’s nothing to pay.”

It is all about everybody enjoying themselves: “I keep a fun atmosphere, with the emphasis being on participation rather than perfection.”

Ceilidh dancing is generally accepted as the beginners’ version of Scottish dancing and sessions are aimed at newcomers.

“Each dance begins with one or more instructed ‘walk-throughs’ before we dance together to the music,” said Mr Taylor.

“Although we have a mix of French and English speakers, the instructions are easy to follow, whatever language you speak. We often start with something like the St Bernard’s Waltz, which is very simple, and end with the more complicated Strip the Willow, which often ends up in a bit of good-natured confusion.”

Mr Taylor has lived in France for 17 years and is married to a Frenchwoman, so speaks good French.

He did country dancing when living in the UK, but learned Scottish dancing when he moved to Vernet-les-Bains.

He was persuaded to start a group about two years ago by a local Scottish friend.

“I had done some line-dancing here and, as I can speak French, I agreed to do it,” said Mr Taylor.

“I was sceptical that it would last, but people enjoy it and keep turning up and we have even put on a show in my local village hall at Estoher.

“I have good connections with Le Casino, as I play in a band for them sometimes, and they are delighted to let us into their premises.

“The bar is separate from the casino, so people can buy a drink there. It is a good way to get some exercise and, as we are all getting a bit older, we like to stop for a biscuit and a natter, as the social side is important to us.”

Introduction to Scottish Ceilidh Dancing is held on the last Friday of the month at Le Casino, Vernet-les-Bains, from 14.30-16.30.

Contact Derek Taylor on 04 68 05 91 81.

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