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An Amazing Year for the Milan Scottish Country Dancers

An Amazing Year for the Milan Scottish Country Dancers

The main reason why this has been an amazing year for the Milan Scottish Country Dancers (MSCD) is obvious: 2022-2023 was the first complete period of normal activity after the tiresome Covid restrictions. The second half of 2022 was the time that we (Italy, Europe, the World, with the possible exception of China) felt much better about socialising again. And Scottish Country Dancing is nothing if not socialising. In fact, often it is called “social dancing” as opposed to “exhibition” or “competition dancing”, which is what Highland Dancing or Irish Step Dancing are.

Certainly, bold attempts were made by SCD teachers to continue doing their stuff online via Zoom or social media, but nobody could say it was the same thing as actually meeting and dancing together. Mancava il calore umano, as they say here.

That’s the main thing we’ve recovered. Along with our traditional events: St Andrew’s Night (see photos) in November, Burns Night in January and (at long last) our 3rd Milan Highland Ball in June 2023, after having to cancel it in 2020 and 2021. Each event had its own challenges.

St Andrew’s Night was held according to custom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Donato Milanese, chosen above all for its wooden floor, but with a new formula: a sit-down buffet supper instead of a served meal. This allowed us (thanks to superb cooperation on the part of the hotel, it must be said) to lower the price and speed up the evening. And with music played live, as usual, by Michael Philip (accordion), Paul Clancy (keyboard) and Colin Jamieson (drums), it was a huge success.

This success was also thanks to a substantial intake in September 2022 for our Level 1 (Beginners) Class (L1), helped by our articles and advertising here in Easy Milano, which obviously reaches not just the Expat Community, but well beyond. The grapevine (nowadays called “social media”) also helps, so you too can do your bit by passing on this information to anyone you think might be interested.

The main problem with our Burns Night was that it had become impossible to import haggis from Scotland, thanks to Brexit. A German solution seemed possible but then fell through. Rising to the occasion was the chef of the Old Fox Pub in Milan, who made us a very passable version. So again, a very successful evening.

May saw a new, one-off excuse to celebrate. In the same way that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had given us a reason to celebrate, so did King Charles’ Coronation. In fact, we celebrated it twice on the same day: firstly, 70 of us met in the morning with a Coronation Brunch at the King’s Pub on Milan’s Naviglio Pavese to watch the Coronation Procession and Ceremony on the pub’s numerous maxi screens (enjoying a wonderful spread of food and an amazing selection of beers).

Then, in the evening, we met in Via Solferino for our Coronation Ceilidh, suitably decorated by red, white and blue bunting, a myriad of balloons with or without Charles’ face on them, Union Jacks and a life-size cut-out of Charles himself in a kilt. Great work on the decorations by Sara and her helpers.

Not long after, on 6 June, the British Embassy and Consulate General in Milan organised a garden party for King Charles’ Official Birthday. And we were invited to dance at it! That was another first, because we’ve never gone in for exhibition dances. But we filled our 15-minute slot with Johnnie Walker, Streets of Milan and the brand-new San Siro Reel (devised by yours truly). Guest of honour was Milan’s Mayor, Beppe Sala, who unfortunately slipped away before he could hear my appeal for him not to demolish this iconic stadium. Last but not least, we rounded off our year (which runs from 1 July to 30 June) with our 3rd Milan Highland Ball, held in the magnificant 17-18th century surroundings of Villa Medici Giulini in Briosco (NB). Everything went smoothly, barring Ryanair’s contribution. The plane that was meant to arrive at 16.20 did so at 18.40. So it was a mighty rush to get the musicians to the venue, changed into their kilts, fed and on stage to start playing at 20.45. But we managed!

Looking forward to the “new year”, our classes will start again in September, with one major change. Providing we have enough newcomers, we are planning to hold a new L1 class with an Open Day on Thursday, 14 September. For full details, consult the September issue of Easy Milano or our website: www.milanscd.it.


John Murphy

President, Milan Scottish Country Dancers

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