Line dancers, make way for a Scottish jig

IT'S known as the birthplace of karate and Kawasaki but Japan will soon be the home of a new cultural phenomenon — Scottish country dancing.

The island nation is fast becoming the dance's biggest growing market.

Mount Waverley's Sheena McLatchie — she has the name for it and the background — says Scottish country dancing is becoming increasingly popular across the globe.

"You can dance Scottish in almost any country in the world," Mrs McLatchie says.

The 78-year-old Scot is a life member and teacher at the Waverley Scottish Society, which hopes to keep the dancing style alive. She came over to Australia from Scotland in 1962. The organisation started in Glen Waverley in 1968 when a group of parents decided to start a pipe band for their children. Founder Frank Kennedy suggested that parents learn to dance as their children played their instruments.

"It just kind of snowballed from there. Forty-five years later, the classes are still continuing and they are at St John's church in Virginia street," Mrs McLatchie says.

The society meets every Monday and has about 40 members. Mrs McLatchie started Scottish country dancing about 26 years ago after hearing about an adult class.

"I wanted something to get me out of the house and (away from) television because I had a family and I was working," she says.

She has been teaching the art for 20 years now. "Without it I think I would die, to be honest.

"It's just so much fun and it gets you out of bed in the morning. It keeps my mind ticking along nicely."

In recent years, Scottish country dancing has spread across the globe, much like it did in the 1970s in Monash due to a pronounced British, Scottish and Irish influence.

"I don't think it has dwindled. It has just changed direction or changed shape or something, but the dancing is still the same," Mrs McLatchie says.

The Waverley Scottish Society will be running an introductory course for beginners from next month.

The course will be held at St John's Hall, at 37 Virginia Street in Mount Waverley from 7.30pm on March 4, 11 and 18. Beginners will learn the basic steps over three weeks. No partner or special clothes are necessary, only soft shoes. Details: 9802 4464.

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