Good Gracious Gordons, take your protein pills and put your helmets on, strap in because we are about to launch ourselves into another fascinating aspect of Clan Gordon's history and culture.
The Gay GordonsLadies and Gents, welcome back to the Clan Gordon blog series. It was my older brother’s stag do the other day and amid the celebrations I got to thinking about how much I love a good wedding (we are currently running a wedding competition by the way, click here to enter, you could win £100). What I love most about weddings is getting the chance to cut a rug with my friends and family during the ceilidh, although I am a terrible dancer, I love it all the same. As the bachelor party celebrations drew to a close and everybody made their way home, I was hit by a terrifying realization, I had a Clan Gordon blog to write this week and no idea what to write about when it came to me, of course, write about the Gay Gordons. After hurriedly sending out emails to some of Scotland’s leading authorities on country dance, this is what I have l found out. Alan MacPherson of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was kind enough to inform me that "the 'Gay Gordons' is not a 'country dance' but what is known as an 'old-time' couple dance (a repeated sequence danced in a circular manner around the ballroom)" and that although the person who came up with the dance is unknown, the music was written by J Scott Skinner sometime in the late nineteenth century (between 1880 and 1900) and is a reference to the Gordon Highlanders.
The Gordon HighlandersThe Gordon Highlanders were a regiment in the British army, it existed for a little over a hundred years before being merged with the Queen’s Own Highlanders in 1994. The regiment gained distinction in many military campaigns throughout their history from North Africa, France and Italy all the way to Singapore, India and Burma. Perhaps the most famous story from the annals of Gordon Highlander history is the story of George Findlater, a junior piper in the regiment. During an assault in what today is Pakistan, Findlater was shot in both legs and stranded in the middle of the battlefield. In order to keep his regiment inspired, Findlater continued playing the pipes – The Haugh’s O’Cromdale apparently. Findlater was awarded the VC for gallantry and became something of a national hero. But let’s leave discussions of war for another day, we have dancing to talk about.
More About the Gay GordonsI was put in touch with Ian Lowthian, a fantastic accordion player based in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. I asked Ian why the Gay Gordons is such a popular dance, he told me “The Gay Gordons is the one dance that most people in Scotland are most likely to know without needing any help!” Ian went on to say that the Gay Gordons is fairly easy for beginners to pick up as, “once they get the first hold correct the dance is very easy to learn.” Ian usually plays the Gay Gordons to kick off his ceilidhs because as everybody knows it (or lots of people, at least) it gets people up onto the floor from the start. Ian will also play it at the start of the second half of the night or any other time the crowd needs to be brought back out onto the floor. If you have never attended a Scottish ceilidh, it is definitely worth a shot. Whether you live in Scotland or are visiting, there are some great places to give it a go. I personally like the Ghillie Dhu in Edinburgh, however, there are many clubs about the country and Ian also puts on ceilidhs on a regular basis, check out his Facebook page for details. Remember, a ceilidh is a great opportunity to dress to impress, especially with a touch of tartan, check out some of our Clan Gordon pieces for some inspiration.
If you have any Clan Gordon stories you want to share, or you want to tell me what to do (it's OK really) feel free to drop me an email anytime you like - Jack