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Meet the Grantham man who has done Scottish Country Dancing all over the world and grown the tradition in the area

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A Grantham man who teaches Scottish Country Dancing locally has helped grow the tradition in the area over the last few years.

John Aitken teaches traditional Scottish Country Dancing on a weekly basis and has danced all over the world, in countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Finland.

Five years ago, John started a U3A class in Grantham for Scottish Country Dancing, and that has since thrived, with many of the 20 or so members also joining other local dancing groups.

John (closest to the camera) dancing in Finland. (49676594)
John (closest to the camera) dancing in Finland. (49676594)

John, who also teaches dancing in Waltham and sometimes Newark, got into Scottish Country Dancing after he joined the Celtic Society in his third year at St Andrew’s University.

After that, John said: “I danced whenever I could, weekly at classes but also around Dundee and Edinburgh Universities, attending dance festivals when possible.

“Work then took me to Lincolnshire and a growing family meant there was a break from dancing for a few years, before looking to see what dancing was around.”

John joined the Newark Scottish Country Dance Society and then the group in Waltham soon after, spending many years on both committees, before starting classes in Grantham.

John continued: “I know many dancers who first tried Scottish Country Dancing around retirement age and a remarkable proportion soon say they wish they had discovered it years before because they find it so enjoyable.

“There are several thousand different dances though only a few hundred are regularly danced. There are dance groups around the world and many dancers take a pair of shoes on holiday in case they come across a local groups.

“Visitors are always welcome irrespective of the country, and as the same dances are used everywhere, it is easy to join in. It is very sociable and it is normal to dance with a different partner for each dance in an evening, so there is no need to feel that a partner is needed before going to class for the first time.

“My wife and I have gone to classes while on holiday, unannounced, in places a far apart as Stanley Park in Vancouver, Auckland in New Zealand and Paphos in Cyprus. We have also danced at International Festivals in Hungary, Czech Republic and Finland where we had the opportunity to dance in the 1250 seat Sibelius Concert Hall, and made the national press!”

John says that all you need for Scottish Country Dancing is a pair of soft soled shoes.

He added: “Anyone who has been to a Scottish wedding, a Hogmanay party or a Burns Night event will have tapped their feet to the music and watched and possibly tried dancing, sometimes Ceilidh Dances and sometime Country Dancing.

“Don’t come home thinking you need to wait for the next such event - you can come and enjoy the fun close to home - Grantham U3A, Newark (which also has a class in Bingham) or Waltham.”

For more information, visit the Grantham U3A website and find the Scottish Dancing

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