Thursday August 22 1957

Dark Clouds hung over Highland Dance Competitions when a piece of paper, lost from a pocket of a Cowal Judge, was found by Catriona Buchanan. The paper indicated that the results of the final day of the 1956 Open World Championship had been decided one day before the final Heats had been danced.

It was this historic event which heralded the furtherance of the S.O.B.H.D., founded in 1950, and the end of the "Open" aspect of the World Championship in 1971 which became "Confined" from there on. Whilst this change did not make a guarantee of fairness at least it became a little nearer, but still more work to be done.


In the 1960s any "newcomer" dancer, especially from South of the Border, competing in the adult open classes would need to spend a couple of years to be recognised by the judges and during that time observe what each judge liked and dance accordingly. An hard and difficult "apprenticeship" which was not eased by the hostility exhibited by the other competitors. I recall, now with some humor, several occasions when I was victim of such hostility - When I asked a fellow competitor if "The Scotch Reel" was infact the Strathspey and Highland Reel the response was "Oh, you'll find out when we start". On another occasion the steward called for the first four competitors for the Sword Dance. No one moved so I, in ignorance, started to walk towards the heap of swords on the dance board. No sooner than I had taken a couple of steps than I was overtaken by three competitors who were running, flat out, towards the swords. By the time I arrived all the swords had been taken leaving the swords with the largest basket hilts fo me!! I note with some amusement that many of the "hostile" competitors have become highly respected and well thought of in the S.O.B.H.D. Oh, Happy Days!!

Most of these discrepancies have been eliminated organisationally and, dance wise, with the standardisation provided by the S.O.B.H.D. Textbook, which unfortunately has ignored so many aspects of the "Highland Dance" character.

It is interesting to note that many great names such as J L McKenzie, Bobby Watson, Bobby Cuthbertson, William Sutherland and others would stand zero chance of winning any competition, even in their prime, with the move from artistry to sport which has changed the appearance of Highland Dance.