It’s still not too late to try something new this year. Deputy Events Editor Jack Angus Nevin explains the ins and outs of reeling and how you can get involved with securing yourself a spot at the only white tie ball in St Andrews.
Think Pride and Prejudice style dancing.
Think the most formal event in St Andrews.
Think lots and lots of spinning.
You might have a good picture of reeling at St. Andrews by now, but I’m not sure it can fully be understood unless you have some first hand experience with it.
Simply put, nearly every country in Europe has a ‘court’ and a ‘common’ dance. In Scotland, the ceilidh is the common dance and reeling is the court dance. Essentially it’s a more poised version of a ceilidh, where the dance moves are learned beforehand and not called out at balls.
Gentlemen and Ladies pair up using dance cards and perform routines which have been regularly performed for hundreds of years both by Scots and acolytes across the world who choose to join Caledonian societies.
Predictably, St. Andrews has a rich history of reels and traditional Scottish dance. Annually, the Reeling Society hosts two balls a year – a white tie and a black tie (the white tie being St. Andrews only white tie, and therefore most formal event). Weekly practices are held throughout first semester, at which older, more practiced students instruct those less versed in the art of traditional Scottish reels.
Reelers from across the country journey up North to join us for our balls, just as we as a university send our best to balls elsewhere throughout the year. St. Andrews, through the dedication of the committee and the fervour of the students, has earned a reputation for commitment to detail and expertise at reeling.
This Thursday, 20 September from 6-8, will see the first reeling practice of the year. Held at 601 and acting as a free “give-it-a-go” style event, this first practice will give those curious an opportunity to see exactly what reeling is all about and determine whether they would like to apply for either of the balls, held in November and April respectively.
Those interested must show dedication as attendees at the balls must apply as sets of pairs and are judged on their skill and assiduity to reeling.
Membership is £15 annually and gets you access to all the weekly practices as well as a discount on both the white and black tie tickets.