It is now over three years since I first joined the board of the TDFS, and more recently was asked to take on the role of secretary and treasurer. As all the minute taking and record keeping is done very efficiently by our full-time staff member, my emphasis has been on trying to identify ways of increasing our membership. This is not proving to be an easy task.
My background is more as musician than a dancer. Before retiring (for the first time!) my job took me to many different parts of the world and playing traditional Scottish dance music on the accordion was an amazingly easy way to make contact with the local Caledonian Society, which exists everywhere. Playing for country dances and ceilidhs, just about one and the same anywhere outside Scotland, was a great way to meet both the expatriate community and local people. On relocating to Scotland in 2002 I was invited by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society to their summer school as a class musician (that was a real eye-opener) and started playing for local country dances and ceilidhs. I was also booked with big function bands to do a solo ceilidh set at weddings, along with the occasional birthday party and corporate events.
More recently I have been running ceilidh dance sessions as exercise classes in fitness centres, all of which have now obviously stopped. To try to maintain contact with people who came to these I now a weekly online session each week (10:30am on Mondays https://www.facebook.com/berniehewitt.music/), each of which includes a short warm up and one simple couple dance. The level of interest in these comes and goes. To be very open about it I cannot see how one can generate the same atmosphere that you get in a class or at a function when everyone is confined to their living room (with, hopefully, some furniture pushed back) and (at most) just one other person to dance with. All of my ceilidh playing has been based around the idea of “fitness, fun and friendship” and I firmly believe that you cannot dance with someone by email. So, any ideas to bring more people on board would be very welcome.