Winter School 2022 - Reliving the experience
March 14, 2022
"We're back", William Williamson's opening words at Sunday evening’s welcome reception to the 2022 RSCDS Winter School in Pitlochry, Perthshire. Those two words summed up this year's Winter School perfectly, as the atmosphere all week was one of joy at being able to dance with friends old and new.
Approximately 120 of us gathered at the Atholl Palace Hotel, including over 30 first-time participants. The hotel staff were pleased to see us return and the overall service was excellent.
Classes were planned for four days, with us experiencing the different styles of the four teachers, Sue Porter, Fiona Mackie, David Hall and this year's coordinator William Williamson, all supported by the musicians Mo Rutherford, Shona Macfadyen, Adam Brady and Neil Copland.
However, the weather took a turn and decided to cover Pitlochry with a winter blanket on the last day resulting in a quick rethink by the teachers and musicians and in the final general morning class we got off to a fun start with a set of winter and Christmas tunes!
Afternoon activities were kept simple with approximately 30 participants taking a guided walking tour of the town on Monday, Tuesday saw a well-attended talk about 18th century fiddle music by American Scottish country dancer and fiddler Tim Macdonald. Wednesday saw a slight change with a gin rather than a whisky tasting. Nearly 50 people enjoyed Ewan McIlwraiths (from Robertsons of Pitlochry) entertaining talk whilst sampling some Scottish gins.
Accessible programmes with clear recaps for the evening social dances and the ball at Blair Castle enabled a relaxed and happy atmosphere on the dance floor without people burying their heads in cribs trying to work out complicated “whilst” dances. The lounge formed the focal point for the sociable evening soirees with entertainment provided by the musicians and others.
Wednesday evening’s dress down ceilidh continued the relaxed atmosphere with social dancing led by Sue and Gordon Porter, musical items from the musicians and a singalong led by William Williamson.
Blair Castle never fails to impress as you enter the ballroom, be it your first or 15th visit! A happy evening was spent dancing to great music with lots of laughter, then weary feet took us back to the coaches and the final gathering of tired and happy dancers in the lounge before wending our separate ways for another year.
Everything ran smoothly (or appeared to), this in a large part was due to Linda Williamson supporting behind the scenes, thank you Linda!
On behalf of the dancers I would like to thank the team for having faith to go ahead with Winter School 2022 and providing us with a satisfying dancing experience. I would recommend Winter School to all dancers and we are already planning next year's trip.
Many thanks to Brian Rose for this report on Winter School 2022. It's great to see events returning and everyone having a wonderful time.