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Month: February 2014

Happy Founders’ Day!



Today — February 22 — is Founders’ Day, and scouts and guides worldwide celebrate the shared birthday of their founders Robert Baden-Powell and his wife Olave Baden-Powell.

An excellent occasion to post a photo of me wearing my kilt with my scout uniform and explain a little about the link between scouting and the Clan MacLaren, of which I am a member.

Firstly, Major Kenneth MacLaren was a friend of Robert Baden-Powell and assisted him in 1907 at the Brownsea Island Scout camp, considered to be the beginning of scouting as we know it today. After that camp, Kenneth MacLaren became the first secretary of the Scout Association.

A couple of years later, in 1919, William F. de Bois MacLaren, a scout commissioner from Rosneath, near Glasgow, financed the purchase of Gilwell Park, thereby giving the Scout Association the leader training facility they were still lacking at the time. To this day, when leaders successfully complete their Wood Badge training — anywhere in the world — they receive a neckerchief with a patch of MacLaren tartan, put there as a little thank you for the generous gift of William de Bois MacLaren.


Supposedly, this same William de Bois MacLaren, after noticing some bullying of Scottish scouts who didn’t have a kilt to wear with their uniform because their family didn’t have a tartan, invited all tartanless scouts to wear the MacLaren tartan. After all, scouting is a brotherhood, making all scouts his family.
However, I’ve failed to find any reliable sources for this story, and I can’t even find back the forum where I read it! If anyone knows more about it, please let me know!

The first photo was taken at a wreath laying at the Menin Gate, where I was on of the persons representing the Clan MacLaren. Since the scouting link is my only link to the clan, wearing the uniform was deemed appropriate.
For those familiar with scouting in Belgium, I should clarify that it isn’t the uniform of Scouts & Gidsen Vlaanderen I’m wearing, but the uniform of Boy Scouts of Belgium. They were the predecessors of FOS Open Scouting, and their uniform is still being worn by 17 BSB Prins Albert, of which I am a member. Usually it is worn with a navy blue corduroy pair of shorts, though.

Happy Founders’ Day!


Ceilidh vs Boombal

imageLast night I went to my first Boombal: a popular Flemish folk dance event. The first two dances they taught us—the tovercirkel (‘magic circle’) and the chapelloise or gigue—were remarkably similar to respectively the Circassian Circle and Gay Gordons (described below)… These Boombal versions were both ‘mixer’ dances, changing partners all the time, while this isn’t very common for the Gay Gordons.
Other dances were less familiar.

imageA Boombal apparently usually starts with an initiation, with just one instrument on stage, and an instructing couple in the middle, taking you through each dance step by step, and practicing each step before moving on to the next one. Quite a bit more extensive than the explanations I had at ceilidhs so far, but basically the same principle.
After the initiation — the first hour or so — the ‘real’ band gets started, and unlike ceilidhs, there are no more instructions or calls. I even didn’t always hear the band announce the dance, but that could have been just me…
So if you’ve never been to a Boombal, better come early!

Oh, I was—not surprisingly—the only guy in a kilt, but some really did seem to appreciate it!

The Circassian Circle

Formation: Large circle round the room, ladies on the right of their partner.
Music: 32 bar Reels.

Bars 1-4: Hands joined in a circle, all advance for four steps, retire for four steps.
Bars 5-8: Repeat.
Bars 9-12: Drop hands, ladies advance and retire.
Bars 13-16: Men advance, turn round and walk out to the next lady clockwise (the one who was on their left; the one who is now to the right of their partner as they view).
Bars 17-24: All spin with new partners
Bars 25-32: Hands crossed in front (right to right and left to left), ladies on the outside, promenade anti-clockwise around the room.

Repeat ad lib.

The Gay Gordons

Formation: couples around the room facing anti-clockwise, ladies on the right.
Music: 2/4 or 4/4 march. E.g. “Scotland the Brave”, “The Gay Gordons”.

Bars 1-2: Right hands joined over lady’s shoulder (man’s arm behind her back) and left hands joined in front (allemande hold), walk forward for four steps, starting on the right foot.
Bars 3-4: Still moving in the same direction, and without letting go, pivot on the spot (so left hand is behind lady and right hand is in front) and take four steps backwards.
Bars 5-8: Repeat in the opposite direction.
Bars 9-12: Drop left hands, raise right hands above lady’s head. Lady pivots on the spot. (The man may set).
Bars 13-16: Joining hands in ballroom hold, polka round the room.

Repeat ad lib.