In 1978, a group of ex-patriate Scots living in New York decided to organize a party to teach reels to their American friends. The combination of a piper, a small band, potluck dinner together with Scottish country dancing generated an enthusiastic response and the event became an annual affair.
Although most of the original founders of the Ball have moved away, many of the traditions they established have been retained. Reeling practices are held for several evenings and on the day of the ball to provide newcomers with instruction as well as an opportunity to meet other Ball-goers. On the night of the Ball, the guests enter the party to the welcoming sounds of bagpipe music. During the cocktail hour, prospective reelers enjoy a whisky tasting as they sign each other’s dance cards.
The dance cards are filled with standards of Scottish country dancing: The Dashing White Sergeant, the Eightsome Reel, The Gay Gordons, and the Reel of the 51st Division are danced prior to dinner. Afterwards, we continue with the Hamilton House, the Duke of Perth and the Inverness Country Dance. The Gallop and singing of Auld Lang Syne conclude the evening.
The ball enjoyed a renaissance 20 years ago, under the leadership of Christopher Gow and Nan Chisolm. We are indebted to them for their vision and energy in keeping the Ball thriving. We are also grateful to our Master of Whisky, Spike McClure, and to the many volunteers who work to make the Ball a unique and wonderful event. Many of the attendees of the Scottish Ball share a common interest in Scotland either through their ancestry or friends. However, the Scottish Ball is not limited to those of Celtic descent; we welcome all who enjoy an evening of music, dance, good food and fine whisky!
2023 Ball Committee
Mary Ellen Scullard
Jaye & Spike McClure