In 2007 I was introduced to Scottish Country Dancing by MarcMagus, due to the juxtaposition of a fried hard drive and a shitty breakup. This is flat out the most important thing to ever happen to and shape my life.

Somewhere in the 2012ish range, I decided I actually wanted to get actually serious about being a good dancer, and started conspiring to get onto the demo team, where I would get a chance to further refine my footwork. That summer, I determined that the way to do it was, in fact, to ask the ladies who are in charge of the demo team if I could join.

I am not exactly sure when the rumblings started, but in late 2013/early 2014, there were all these mutterings going around about candidate class and training up some more teachers. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is delightfully bureaucratic, and so there is an actual double-leveled certification process to become a teacher. By Pinewoods 2014, it was confirmed that I was gonna be in the class, we had had our initial interest meeting, and I was beginning to _no really_ start looking at my footwork.

The first level of the certification is three units. Unit 1 is a written exam on the manual of the RSCDS, it includes questions on history, music, footwork, and figures. Unit 2 is a dancing exam, where we have to show ability to talk through and perform 12 pre-selected dances. Unit 3 is a teaching exam, where we are given a 16-bar lesson plan to teach.

From September to now, I have been dancing at least every other Saturday, for five(plus) hours, to prepare. This was an 80+ hour course, not counting time spent practicing, writing lesson plans, rehearsing dances, doing homework, and driving. It is one of the most intense things I have ever done in my life, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Scottish Country Dancing is a hugely important part of my social life and my emotional happiness. It is the number one thing keeping my in the Boston area right now --if I want to have remotely the same level of competence and options as I do here, I can go to Philly, SF, or Seattle. That's it. No where else has the music (live music every week, at least in Watertown!) or the teachers (so many, and soon some new ones!), or the dancers (we actually have young dancers participating!)

When it's working right, it feels like flying.

It's a puzzle to be solved, and a flirtation to be winked, and a physical challenge to be overcome. And one of my base states is "teacher", it is important to me to be able to share this joy with the rest of the world. So there's a system to become thus officially? Great, that recognition can only make it easier to accomplish what I want.

Unit 1 was in October for 4/5ths of us, and February for the last. We've all five passed, yay!

Units 2 and 3 were today. Our examiners were a pair of women, one from Seattle (who I hear is guest-teaching at Monday night Scottish in Watertown, oooo!) and one from Aberdeen, yes, the one in Scotland. They sat at a table at the top of the hall and assessed us cooly as we demonstrated our dances, as we demonstrated our teaching.

(They stared with some amusement when we presented our gifts to our tutors, a pair of dances we had written.)


Now we wait.

Seriously. Six to eight weeks, we wait. We should all know by Pinewoods, and it sounds like Susie (the last of the five) is gonna come to ESC1 week with us (yay!) so we can have a congratulations/commiserations party then.

But six weeks is a damn long time. More than enough time to go through every possible combination in my head of "which of us failed which units?". More than enough time to review my entire lesson, in meticulous detail, and cringe at the bits I forgot.

(I have not read an assessment sheet while thinking about it yet. I'm a bit scared to do so.)

Eventually we find out we all passed everything (THIS WILL OCCUR, DAMNIT. BRAINWEASELS CAN BE STOMPED.) and then we begin teaching beginner classes and easy level dances and keeping perfect track of everything. Why? Because in about a year, we'll be submitting our Unit 4 portfolios of lesson plans. Registered mail to Scotland, obviously.

And two years from now, I'll be sitting in this same anxious stir, waiting to hear back about my Unit 5, the second-level teaching exam. At that point, I will be finished forever, because despite all these stringent guidelines about who can teach in the first place, once your in, you're never evaluated or retrained or checked up on.

And then, you know, I can start a class of Scottish Country Dancers whereever I go. No matter where I am located otherwise, I will lead the dance.

It's a good feeling.

1: Quick shill: Do you like English, Scottish, and or Contra dancing? Do you like relaxing in the woods and swimming in ponds? ESCape to Pinewoods this summer, for a session full of ridiculous young things being wonderful!

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